U.S. still plans for June 30 Iraq turnover date

BAGHDAD – The top U.S. administrator in Iraq insisted yesterday
there are many ways to choose a new Iraqi government, but a June 30
deadline for handing over power remains firm. Hours later, the
United Nations backed Washington’s claims that a direct vote
before then is impossible.

The U.N. judgment on elections throws open the debate over how
to transfer sovereignty and end the U.S. occupation — though
not the U.S. military presence — among Americans,
Iraq’s Governing Council and powerful Shiite Muslim clerics,
who derailed U.S. plans by demanding an early direct vote.

Iraqi leaders have largely turned against the original American
plan to use regional caucuses as the basis for the new government.
The Bush administration hopes that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan will now endorse an alternative that would expand the
Governing Council and hand it power to rule until elections, a U.S.
official told The Associated Press.

Support is growing within the U.S.-appointed council for
expanding the body, several members said yesterday.

Israeli man accused of nuclear marketing

WASHINGTON – An Israeli businessman accused of being a middleman
in the nuclear black market worked to supply not only Pakistan but
also its archrival India, court records indicate.

South Africa-based Asher Karni faces felony charges of exporting
nuclear bomb triggers to Pakistan.

But court files in the case also include e-mail exchanges
between Karni and an Indian businessman who was trying secretly to
buy material for two Indian rocket factories. “Be careful to
avoid any reference to the customer name,” warned one message
from Karni’s Indian contact, Raghavendra “Ragu”
Rao of Foretek Marketing (Pvt.) Ltd.

The messages offer a rare glimpse into such dealings. Federal
prosecutors filed them in court as part of their attempts to
persuade a judge to keep Karni behind bars before his trial.

Poll: Most people favor do-not-call list

WASHINGTON – The government’s do-not-call registry is a
resounding success, according to an Associated Press poll that
found three-quarters of the people who signed up reported fewer
telemarketing calls.

The news was not so good for the government’s efforts to
reduce unwanted e-mail. The poll found few people noticed any
difference in the six weeks since a law against “spam”
took effect.

More than 57 million phone numbers have been placed on the
do-not-call list since it was established in October, according to
the Federal Trade Commission. Because many of the numbers may be
cell phones or multiple phones within the same household, the FTC
does not claim to know what percentage of the population has
registered.

Optimism may help people feel better

WASHINGTON – Just thinking a medicine will make you feel better
actually may — even if it’s fake, according to new
research examining the placebo effect.

One region of the brain is activated by the expectation of pain
relief, researchers said. This, in turn, leads to a reduction of
activity in the portion of the brain that senses pain.

In a second study, researchers showed that some of the brain
regions involved in feeling physical pain become activated when
someone empathizes with another’s pain. Both studies were
published in today’s edition of the journal Science. In the
placebo study, volunteers put inside MRI machines had either
electric shocks or heat applied to the arm.

—Compiled from Daily wire reports

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