to hold first parliament session under new leader
Mar 24: North Korea today said it will hold
an annual parliamentary session next month during
which the reclusive countrys new young
leader, Kim Jong-un, is expected to be appointed
officially to top posts of the state.
by the Norths state news agency that the
session will be on April 13 came as concern grew
over a decision by the North to launch a rocket
next month marking the centenary of founder Kim
The rocket launch,
which the United States and other countries say
is the same as a ballistic missile test, which is
banned under UN resolutions, could coincide with
the promotion of the young Kim to the top posts.
Even China, North
Koreas main ally, has expressed its worry
over the rocket launch, scheduled for between
April 12 and April 16, and has urged the North to
stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid
North has twice tested a nuclear device, but
experts doubt whether it yet has the ability to
miniaturise an atomic bomb to fit inside a
Many North Korea
watchers expect the junior Kim, who is in his
late 20s, to be appointed at the assembly to the
posts his late father, Kim Jong-il, held.
The father was
chief commander of the 1.2 million-strong armed
forces and general secretary of the ruling Korean
The young Kim took
power after his father died in December and many
analysts had feared a chaotic succession.
His appointment to
the top posts would appear to cement his position
as paramount leader and ease lingering fears of a
power struggle plunging the country into turmoil.
The young Kim has
only been named vice chairman of the powerful
National Defence Commission, one of the top
ruling bodies in North Korea.
in crime-plagued El Salvador call a truce
SALVADOR, Mar 24: Rival gangs operating in El Salvador
have called a truce as the Central American
country confronts a plague of violent crime,
according to a statement issued by the gangs and
endorsed by local Roman Catholic church leaders.
signed by representatives of the countrys
two most powerful gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and
gang Mara 18, was delivered to various media and
has been endorsed by the Salvadoran Catholic
Church, local church leaders said.
reports based on interviews with gang leaders say
the truce began this week.
The gangs have
been in a period of reflection since
last year as they considered the toll of crime in
the country, according to the statement.
much of it linked to local gangs, fueled a 9 per
cent jump in the countrys murder rate last
According to data
published by the United Nations, El Salvador has
a homicide rate of 66 per 100,000 people, one of
the highest in the world.
Much of that
violence is blamed on Mexican drug cartels that
use the country as a transit point.
the pain it causes, to our families and
ourselves, we have taken this decision (to call a
truce), because we are all aware that many dead
are our own, the statement said.
The statement says
that it speaks for more than 100,000 gang members
who do not want to wage war.
Killings in El
Salvador, which can average more than 12 a day,
do seem to have abated in recent days.
rejected media reports that the gangs were paid
off by the government in exchange for putting
down their weapons.
representative in El Salvador, Archbishop Luigi
Pezzuto, is due to celebrate a prison Mass on
Monday. Pope Benedict arrived in Mexico yesterday
speaking against drug traffickers.
gunmen kill father-son duo in Karachi
Mar 24: Unidentified gunmen today shot dead
a senior lawyer and his son in the Pakistani port
city of Karachi in an apparent sectarian attack,
Jafri, a former president of the local lawyers
association, and his son Ali Haider Jafri were
heading to office from home when gunmen sprayed
bullets at their car in Landhi area.
Witnesses said the
father and son were critically injured and died
on the way to a nearby hospital.
The gunmen, who
were riding a motorcycle, fled after the attack,
police officials said.
No group claimed
responsibility for the incident.
the incident as an act of terrorism and said
sectarian motives could be behind the attack as
the slain men belong to the minority Shia
A large number of
lawyers gathered at the hospital and shouted
slogans against the police for their failure to
arrest the gunmen.
announced they would boycott courts to protest
the attack and demanded the arrest of the
Minister Manzoor Wasan condemned the murder and
ordered an inquiry.
capital of southern Sindh province and the
countrys financial hub, has been hit by
sectarian and political violence, with extremist
and banned groups targeting Shias though there
are no tensions between the majority Sunni and
In a separate
incident, gunmen fired at the police guards of a
political leader in Landhi area, police officials
protecting the head of the Muhajir Qaumi
Movement-Haqqaqi, Afaq Ahmad Khan, and another
man were injured. The injured were taken to a
A spokesman for
the MQM-Haqqaqi said Khan was heading to
Hyderabad, the second largest city in Sindh, when
his police escort was attacked.
unhurt in the incident, he said.
Mirza Majeed said the attack was a terrorist act
aimed at creating law and order problems in
No group claimed
responsibility for this attack and the
MQM-Haqqaqi spokesman demanded the government
should investigate the incident.
MQM-Haqqaqi is a
splinter group of the powerful Muttahida Qaumi
Movement and both parties routinely accuse each
other of attacks.
The MQM is largely
supported by Urdu-speaking migrants from India
who settled in Karachi and several other cities
after independence from British colonial rule in
give drugmakers the blues
Mar 24: - The development of a novel
antidepressant ground to a halt this week when
researchers found it did not make patients feel
any better than the pills they were already
taking. The drug firms took the hit, with shares
tumbling in Targacept, while AstraZeneca wrote
off a total of 146.5 million dollars for the
drugs failure. (agencies)
US breast cancer fundraising
lags after abortion dispute
Mar 24: US breast cancer charity Susan G.
Komen for the Cure is feeling a pinch on
donations following a controversy over its
funding for Planned Parenthood, a leading
provider of birth-control and abortion services.
A few of the groups flagship Race for
the Cure fundraising events have failed to
meet targets, a Komen spokeswoman said yesterday.
Separately, at least five of the groups
leaders have stepped down in recent weeks.
supporters to face off outside high court
Mar 24: A battle for American hearts and
minds will rage outside the Supreme Court next
week as justices inside hear arguments on
President Barack Obamas signature
healthcare law. An opposition rally, news
conferences, squads of talk radio hosts, doctors
in scrubs and Republican opponents by the busload
will all be part of the furor surrounding
proceedings on the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act. (agencies)
US panel rejects wider use
of Stryker brain stent
MARYLAND, Mar 24: US advisers yesterday said Stryker
Corps <SYK.N> artery-opening stent
for the brain should not be used in most
patients, based on new data showing the device
caused more harm than anti-clotting drugs. Most
of about 16 advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration recommended that the stent, called
the Wingspan system, should no longer be
available in the market, where it has been sold
since 2005. (agencies)
reviewing traumatic stress diagnostic practices
Mar 24: The US Army has started a
system-wide review to ensure its mental
healthcare facilities are not engaging in the
Âunacceptable practice of considering
treatment costs in making a diagnosis, Army
Secretary John McHugh told a US Senate hearing on
Wednesday. Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho,
the Army surgeon general, initiated the review in
response to the discovery that hundreds of
soldiers being treated for post-traumatic stress
disorder had their diagnoses reversed after being
seen by psychiatrists at the Madigan Army Medical
Center in Washington State. (agencies)
headaches common in soldiers after concussion
YORK, Mar 24: One in five soldiers who returns
from Iraq or Afghanistan having suffered a
concussion develops chronic headaches that occur
at least half the days of each month, according
to a new survey. Army researchers examined nearly
1,000 soldiers with a history of
deployment-related concussion and found 20
percent had suffered the frequent headaches
diagnosed as chronic daily headache
for three months or more. Of those, a quarter
literally had the headaches every day. (agencies)
C-sections could save countries billions
YORK, Mar 24: Putting a halt to medically
unnecessary cesarean sections could save more
than 2 billion dollar a year worldwide, a new
study estimates. It has long been recognized that
many countries have high C-section rates. In the
US, C-sections now account for one-third of all
deliveriesan all-time high. (agencies)
Swapping protein for sugar
may help blood pressure
YORK, Mar 24: Overweight adults who replaced some
of the sugar in their diets with protein saw
their high blood pressure drop slightly in a new
study that leaves open the question of whether
the cut carbs or the added protein produced the
effect. Dutch researchers found that when they
gave participants either a protein supplement or
a supplement with the sweet carbohydrate
maltodextrin, people on the protein drink lost an
average of 5 points from their systolic blood
pressure (the top number in a blood pressure
reading), compared with people on the carb-heavy
fitness improves with anti-obesity program
YORK, Mar 24: Obesity rates continue to climb in
California schools, but exercise and nutrition
programs may be having a positive effect on
student health, a new study suggests. Kids
entered fifth grade more obese every year, but
they did not gain more weight and their overall
fitness improved as they moved to higher grades.