Pakistan criticizes Sharon’s visit to India

NEW DELHI, India

Ariel Sharon began a landmark visit to India yesterday, intent
on cementing defense deals and fortifying his country’s friendship
with a longtime Palestinian ally during the first visit here by an
Israeli prime minister.

Pakistan, India’s neighbor and chief rival, immediately warned
of the “dangerous consequences” of a military alliance between
Israel and India, knowing Sharon hopes to seal the $1 billion sale
of an advanced airborne radar package.

“I think such a collaboration should be avoided at all costs,”
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told reporters
yesterday, adding it would hurt peace in the region.

The United States is applauding the three-day state visit, the
first by an Israeli leader since India opened ties with the Jewish
state in 1992, and may be looking toward a three-way strategic
alliance in the region.

In the long term, however, Washington might oppose Israeli
efforts to provide India with technology – some developed jointly
with the United States – that could tilt the military balance in
the region and upset U.S. allies, such as Pakistan, in the global
war on terrorism.

India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population and New
Delhi does not want the Sharon visit to re-ignite riots between
Hindus and Muslims, violence which has claimed thousands of lives
in the last two years.

Sharon’s entourage of three Cabinet ministers and more than 30
business and defense leaders can expect street protests by leftist
and Muslim groups who note Indian leaders have always supported the
Palestinian struggle for self-rule, long before India and Israel
gained independence from Britain more than half a century ago.

The country’s major Muslim organizations have called for street
protests, accusing the Israeli leader of being a “war criminal.” In
a statement yesterday, the Muslim leaders said the visit was an
“official seal on the reversal of India’s traditional support for
the Palestinian people.”

Group files 261 lawsuits against file sharers

WASHINGTON

The music industry’s largest trade group filed 261 copyright
lawsuits across the country yesterday against Internet users who
trade songs online, an aggressive campaign to discourage piracy
through fears of expensive civil penalties or settlements.

The Recording Industry Association of America warned it
ultimately may file thousands of cases. Its first round was aimed
at what it described as “major offenders” illegally distributing on
average more than 1,000 copyrighted music files each.

“Some of my grandkids got in there,” said Durwood Pickle, 71, of
Richardson, Texas, who said his son had explained the situation in
an e-mail to the recording industry association. “I didn’t do it,
and I don’t feel like I’m responsible. It’s been stopped now, I
guarantee you that.”

Pickle said his teen-aged grandchildren used his computer during
visits to his home.

“I’m not a computer-type person,” Pickle said. “They come in and
get on the computer. How do I get out of this? Dadgum it, got to
get a lawyer on this.”

An estimated 60 million Americans participate in file-sharing
networks, using software that makes it simple for computer users to
locate and retrieve for free virtually any song by any artists
within moments. Internet users broadly acknowledge music-trading is
illegal, but the practice has flourished in recent years since
copyright statutes are among the most popularly flouted laws
online.

“Nobody likes playing the heavy,” said RIAA President Cary
Sherman, who compared illegal music downloads to shoplifting.
“There comes a time when you have to stand up and take appropriate
action.”

French report blasts understaffed hospitals

PARIS

A scathing French government report yesterday blamed hospital
understaffing during summer holidays, chronic bureaucratic snags
and a dearth of elderly care for the 11,400-plus death toll in this
summer’s brutal heat wave.

Also yesterday, the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics
estimated 1,000 to 1,400 people died in the Netherlands from the
heat that gripped Europe this summer – higher than an earlier
projection of 500 to 1,000.

The French report, ordered by the Health Ministry, pointed to
disarray and lack of communication between weather officials,
emergency services and hospitals, and said that a “massive” exodus
of doctors on August vacation left many elderly to fend for
themselves.

“Hospitals found themselves in growing difficulties to provide
personnel in a sufficient number,” said the 47-page report, with
some 100 additional pages of graphs and charts.

The study also said France’s 35-hour workweek had cut into
hospital staffing.

Michel Combier, president of the National General Practitioners
Union, said it was unfair to blame doctors and other health care
workers for going on vacation at the same time as everyone
else.

“The problem wasn’t that everyone was on vacation, but that the
alert system was too weak to allow for hospitals to get everyone
back working,” Combier told The Associated Press. “And the
catastrophe, of course, was totally unpredictable and out of the
ordinary.”

The government has put the provisional death toll at 11,435 from
the heat wave, which brought choking temperatures of up to 104 in
the first two weeks of August in a country where air conditioning
is rare. The heat baked many parts of Europe, killing livestock and
fanning forest fires.

Southerners push for military school of old

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn.

Disgusted by what they see as the extinction of the all-male
Southern military college, some graduates want to build one of
their own, based on the way The Citadel and Virginia Military
Institute used to be.

That is, they say, before those schools started admitting women,
before they stopped saying mealtime prayers and before the winds of
political correctness swept aside many of the reminders of the
Confederacy.

“Southern traditions that have been tarnished and almost lost
will live again,” backers of the planned Southern Military
Institute say on their Web site. “The concept of an officer and a
Southern gentleman will be the standard, not the exception.”

The nonprofit group headed by Michael Guthrie of Madison, Ala.,
is planning to purchase a 450-acre farm in Tennessee and hopes to
open with a first class of about 30 cadets in the fall of 2004.

It will be the nation’s only private, all-male four-year
military college.

Backers say it will extol the virtues of military discipline and
the legacy of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Confederate symbols, including
the first national Confederate flag, are included in the school’s
promotional materials. Guthrie said blacks are welcome to
attend.

“We have been villainized, especially Southern Christian
heritage has been villainized as racist,” Guthrie said. “I think
there are a lot of conservative blacks who would understand the
issues that revolved around the Civil War. There will also be
people who oppose us. The very reason we are having to start this
school – we have become a minority in this country.”

Guthrie, an engineer for a defense contractor and a 1977 VMI
graduate, is a former member of the League of the South, a group
that the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., has
identified as racist.

As owners gain more weight, so do pets

WASHINGTON

The old wives’ tale holds that people start to look like their
pets. Turns out it’s the other way around: America’s pets are
starting to look like Americans – overweight.

Whether it’s round hounds or corpulent cats, as many as
one-fourth of cats and dogs in the Western world are overweight,
according to the National Research Council, an arm of the National
Academies.

It’s the council’s first update since 1986 of its “Nutrient
Requirements of Dogs and Cats” and, while aimed at veterinarians,
pet food makers and scientists, the 500-page report also contains
useful pointers for people with pets.

Kathryn Michel, a veterinary nutritionist at the University of
Pennsylvania, said she has noted more overweight pets in recent
years, particularly cats, and the problem seems to occur at younger
ages than in the past.

“A big problem that people don’t always recognize,” she said, is
that pets “are members of our families, we show them affection, and
one way is by sharing food and giving treats.”

People don’t have to ignore those hopeful eyes looking up, she
says, just be careful. A piece of a biscuit will help bond with the
animal just as much as the whole biscuit.

Like people, obese pets have a greater risk of developing such
diseases as diabetes, heart disease and other health problems, said
Donald C. Beitz, chairman of the committee that prepared the
report.

Beitz, a professor of animal science at Iowa State University,
said the new study adds a chapter on physical activity for pets and
points out that the council has established a Web site for pet
owners to learn more about nutrition for their animals, how to
determine if they are overweight and suggestions for helping them
lose weight.

The Web site can be accessed at
http://national-academies.org/petdoor.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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