Monday, March 27, 2006

Two-head girl dies of infection

An Egyptian girl who survived an operation to remove a second head has died from a brain infection.

Manar Maged suffered from a rare condition that occurs when an embryo splits in the womb but does not develop fully into a twin.

Her second head could smile and blink, but could not survive independently.

Doctors in Cairo operated on Manar in February 2005, when she was aged just 10 months. She died, aged two, after being rushed to hospital with a fever.

"She was admitted to hospital in a very bad way," said Abla el-Alfy, a consultant paediatrician involved in her care.

"She had a very severe infection in the brain and she wasn't able to fight it."

Doctors at the Benha Children's Hospital had regarded the fact that Manar survived the initial 13-hour operation as a success.

Her condition improved after the surgery, but she continued to suffer regular infections, Mr Alfy told Reuters news agency.

The second head contained eyes, a nose and a mouth, but was not connected to any internal organs and was not capable of independent thought.

Known as craniopagus parasiticus, the condition is one of the rarest forms of birth defects.

Iraqi PM concerned over killings

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has expressed concern to US military authorities about a clash near a mosque in a Shia area of Baghdad on Sunday.

Accounts of the raid, in which about 20 people were killed, remain confused with disagreement about the role of US forces and the identity of the dead.

US officials say Iraqi special forces led the raid, backed by US advisors, to disrupt an armed insurgents' cell.

Angry local residents say many of the dead were unarmed Muslim worshippers.

A spokesperson for Mr Jaafari said he was "deeply concerned" and had telephoned US military commander General George Casey, who had promised a full inquiry.

We saw unarmed worshippers and we didn't find any Iraqi weapons. This place was just for praying and worshipping
Sadr aide Hazim al-Araji
Relatives have begun burying the bodies in funerals marked by anger and bitterness.

"No one is protecting us," shouted one distraught mourner, Hamid Taayab, who said only radical cleric Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army militia prevented Iraqis "being slaughtered in our homes".

Joint operation

Iraqi television has been showing footage of bloody corpses at what was said to be Sadr City's Mustafa mosque.

Many of the dead were elderly and their identity papers indicated they were members of prominent political parties, according to the TV footage.

The US military said the bloodshed happened after Iraqi commandos and soldiers from the Iraqi counter-terrorism force came under fire during a house-to-house search for insurgents.

Members of the US special forces were said to be present "in an advisory capacity". The fighting took place in an office adjacent to the mosque, and the US military insisted no religious site was entered or damaged.

Initial reports had characterised the violence as a clash between forces loyal to Mr Sadr's and US forces, and then as a massacre inside the Mustafa mosque.

Large numbers of weapons were found, the US military said, and an abducted employee of the ministry of health was freed, after a 12-hour ordeal of beating.

A senior supporter of Mr Sadr rejected the US account, saying: "This is a lie, we saw unarmed worshippers and we didn't find any Iraqi weapons. This place was just for praying and worshipping."

Bodies found

Separately, police say nine more bodies with signs of torture and strangulation have been discovered in Baghdad.

The bodies were discovered dumped in empty ground used to sell used cars in the west of the city.

Three other bodies, two male and one female, were found shot in the head in east Baghdad late on Sunday, police said.

Earlier the bodies of 30 men, most of them decapitated, had been found in Baqouba north-east of the capital.

Only 18 of the bodies were reported to have been recovered after the grim find at dusk on Sunday in Mullah Eid village.

Reports say that initial recovery operations were difficult in the gathering darkness and the insecure conditions prevailing in that part of Diyala province.

Scores of corpses have been turning up daily in and around Baghdad in a wave of sectarian killing since the destruction of an important Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February.

Moscow synagogue attacker jailed

A 21-year-old man who went on a knife-wielding rampage at a Moscow synagogue, injuring eight people, has been sentenced to 13 years in jail.

Alexander Koptsev was found guilty of attempting to murder Jewish worshippers during the incident on 11 January.

After bursting into the building he lashed out at random before being wrestled to the ground by the rabbi and his son, witnesses said.

Charges against him included attempted murder "motivated by racial hatred".

Investigators found anti-Semitic pamphlets at Koptsev's home.

They say he believed Jews were the enemies of the Russian nation. But they insist he was acting alone.

Koptsev was diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder, but prosecutors said he was still fit to stand trial.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hussey ton keeps Windies at bay

Third Test, Adelaide, day three (stumps): West Indies 405 & 68-2; Australia 428
Mike Hussey smashed an unbeaten 133 to help Australia recover from a batting collapse against the West Indies in the final Test at Adelaide.
The hosts slumped to 295-8 thanks to explosive bowling from all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who claimed 6-84.
But Hussey and Stuart MacGill (22 not out) piled on 93 for the ninth wicket to steer Australia to 428 all out
By stumps, West Indies were 68-2 in their second innings, with a lead of 45 and Ramnaresh Sarwan unbeaten on 53.
West Indies made a terrible start to their reply when Devon Smith, who has made just 22 runs in his last five innings, was caught by Ricky Ponting at second slip with the total on two.
Then Wavell Hinds was stumped by Adam Gilchrist off Shane Warne shortly before the close of play, leaving Sarwan and nightwatchman Daren Powell to survive through to stumps.
Bravo dominated in the morning session, taking three quick wickets after Fidel Edwards had dismissed Brad Hodge for 18.
He bowled Andrew Symonds for nine with a ball that darted back in and had the dangerous Gilchrist caught by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at cover.
And Bravo's dismissal of Warne came from a sensational diving catch from his own bowling after two close lbw shouts had been turned down.
Australia were left reeling until Hussey steadied the lower order with some fine shots.
The guys bowled well with the old ball but I think we let them off the hook when we took the new ball Dwayne Bravo
Hussey batted for nearly five hours, faced 215 balls and hit 13 boundaries and three sixes to register his second Test century in just his third match, and his first in the middle order.
He was dropped by Sarwan at slip on 88 and by Bravo on 116 when he drove the ball firmly back to the bowler but was otherwise untroubled on a flat pitch.
Hussey thanked MacGill for helping him to a century.
"I honestly didn't think I had the chance to score a hundred but I have to give a lot of the credit to Stuart MacGill," he said.
"I wasn't really sure which direction which we were going to go.
"He really grabbed the situation, grabbed the game and gave us a very clear focus on exactly how we were going to go about it."
Six-wicket hero Bravo said the tourists tried too hard to finish Australia off.
"I didn't think I was going to get six wickets but I knew I was going to do something spectacular today," he said.
"The guys bowled well with the old ball but I think we let them off the hook when we took the new ball.
"We let it slip but we are batting in the second innings now so we have to try our best to put a good total on the scoreboard and make it game on."
Story from BBC SPORT: 2005/11/27 08:10:16 GMT© BBC MMV

Japanese deflation appears to end

Japanese consumer prices failed to fall for the first time in five months in October, fanning optimism that the long period of deflation is set to end.
However, policymakers warned that it was too early to say for certain that prices would now start to rise.
The government has been urging the Bank of Japan not to change its zero-interest rate policy for fear of snuffing out an economic rebound.
It said the central bank needs to work with the government to end deflation.
Steady hand
The world's second-largest economy is slowly emerging from recession and deflation that has eroded wages, corporate earnings and consumer confidence.
"Before we make various policies, including the budget, based on this, we must determine whether this will continue," said Economy and Banking Minister Kaoru Yosano.
While the core inflation figure was unchanged, prices overall - including fresh foods, which are omitted from the headline calculation - fell 0.7% in October, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.
The Bank of Japan has had a policy of low interest rates for almost five years in an effort to breathe life into the economy.
However, recently it has hinted that it would move to raise rates should price growth pick up.
Good six months?
Analysts said that they expect the bank to hike borrowing costs in the second quarter - which runs from April to June - of next year.
"At this rate, we could see six months of flat or positive core consumer price figures by March," said Seiji Adachi, an analyst at Deutsche Securities.
Government figures showed that Japan's economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 0.4% in the third quarter, boosted by strong domestic demand.
That brought Japan's growth rate for the year to an annualised 1.7%, well above forecasts which predicted a figure of 1%.
Speaking earlier this month, Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui said that "rises in prices may not accelerate, but it's unlikely that they will fall back into negative territory once they start rising".
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/25 07:37:12 GMT© BBC MMV

Chinese 'deliver arms to Nepal'

Eighteen trucks of arms and ammunition have been delivered to Nepal from China, media reports in Nepal say.
The Kantipur newspaper said the Chinese army escorted the trucks to the Tibet border on Tuesday and Wednesday where plain-clothed Nepali troops took over.
Nepal has looked to China for arms since the US, UK and India suspended military aid after King Gyanendra's takeover of power in February.
There has been no official confirmation of the delivery by Nepal's government.
The BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says external assistance is crucial for Nepal's army in its fight against the rebels, who want a communist republic.
Personnel carriers
China last month agreed to provide $1m in military aid to Nepal following a visit by the chief of the Royal Nepalese Army, Pyar Jung Thapa.
The independent Nepali-language Kantipur daily said 12 trucks crossed on Tuesday and another six on Wednesday, quoting unidentified sources.
Kantipur said it was the first time China had provided guns and ammunition to Nepal.
China reportedly supplied Nepal with five armoured personnel carriers in June.
Nepal's traditional military suppliers suspended aid after the king took over direct power. He said politicians were corrupt and had failed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.
Some 12,000 people have died in Nepal's 10-year civil war.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/25 10:57:30 GMT© BBC MMV

Probe 'gathers asteroid material'

A Japanese probe has become the first craft to collect samples from the surface of an asteroid, scientists say.
The probe, called Hayabusa - Japanese for "falcon" - briefly touched down on the Itokawa asteroid and fired a projectile to loosen surface material.
Scientists believe it collected the debris, but will only be sure when Hayabusa returns to Earth in 2007.
Moon rocks have been analysed before, but asteroids could contain material from the birth of the Solar System.
Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed that Hayabusa touched down on Itokawa for a few seconds.
Touching down on the asteroid, which is 290 million km (180 million miles) from Earth, was as tough as landing a jumbo jet in the Grand Canyon, a Jaxa spokesman added.
The probe fired a small metal ball into the surface and apparently collected the resulting powdery debris.
"The process of sampling also seems to have gone very well," said Jaxa's Kiyotaka Yashiro.
Japan's Science and Technology Minister Iwao Matsuda praised the effort.
"I am delighted to hear that it has collected the samples. It is the world's first such feat and it will contribute greatly to mankind's exploration of space."
Celestial secrets
Saturday's announcement by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) came after a series of problems with the spacecraft.
Last Sunday, Hayabusa made a first touchdown on the rotating asteroid - but it failed to collect material after temporarily losing contact with Earth.
A separate attempt to land a miniature robot on the asteroid was also unsuccessful.
Hayabusa was launched in May 2003 and has until early December before it must leave orbit and begin its journey home. It is expected to return to Earth and land in the Australian outback in June 2007.
Examining asteroid samples is expected to help unlock secrets of how celestial bodies were formed because their surfaces are believed to have remained relatively unchanged over the ages, unlike those of larger bodies such the planets or moons.
Itokawa, named after the Japanese rocket scientist Hideo Itokawa, is 690m (2,300 ft) long and 300m (1,000 ft) wide and has a gravitational pull only 1/100,000th that of Earth's.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/26 10:07:10 GMT© BBC MMV

Rescuers sent to China quake zone

Rescuers sent to China quake zone Chinese rescue workers have been sent to areas worst hit by Saturday's magnitude 5.7 earthquake that left at least 14 people dead.
The teams were bringing food, water and tents to thousands of people whose their homes were flattened in the central province of Jiangxi.
Hundreds were injured in the earthquake and aftershocks have been reported.
The epicentre was near the city of Ruichang, where about 420,000 people left their homes fearing more tremors.
A total of 30,000 boxes of food and water have been delivered to the worst-hit areas, officials said.
The International Red Cross has sent 500 tents, and is expected to dispatch another 2,000 on Sunday.
About 8,000 homes have been destroyed.
"Basically, everyone in Ruichang is huddling in the street," a civil affairs official told AFP news agency.
Doctors treated people outside hospitals in case of new tremors, Xinhua news agency reported.
In nearby Jiujiang, thousands of people crowded the streets, following a series of aftershocks and fearing another strong quake.
Some wrapped themselves in blankets, with temperatures hovering at about 10C.
Zhang Xuping, 42, said his home in a village near Ruichang had cracks running down the walls.
Local officials told villagers not to stay indoors but had not provided any more information or assistance since, he said.
"We cut wood to build shelters," Mr Zhang said. "All of the people in the village stayed outdoors last night."
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Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/27 06:57:02 GMT© BBC MMV