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NKorea to hold first parliament session under new leader

SEOUL, Mar 24: North Korea today said it will hold an annual parliamentary session next month during which the reclusive country’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, is expected to be appointed officially to top posts of the state..... ....more

Gangs in crime-plagued El Salvador call a truce

SAN 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 .......more

Unidentified gunmen kill father-son duo in Karachi

ISLAMABAD, 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, police said.Salahuddin Haider 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....more.

Insight: Antidepressants give drugmakers the blues

LONDON, 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 ......more

US breast cancer fundraising lags after abortion dispute

WASHINGTON, 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 a.......more

Opponents, supporters to face off outside high court healthcare hearings

WASHINGTON, 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 Obama’s signature ..more

US panel rejects wider use of Stryker brain stent

GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, Mar 24: US advisers yesterday said Stryker Corp’s <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 ......more

Army reviewing traumatic stress diagnostic practices

WASHINGTON, 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....more

   

NKorea to hold first parliament session under new leader

SEOUL, Mar 24: North Korea today said it will hold an annual parliamentary session next month during which the reclusive country’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, is expected to be appointed officially to top posts of the state.

The announcement by the North’s 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 Il-sung’s birth.

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 Korea’s 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 escalation’.

The secretive 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 warhead.

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 Workers’ Party.

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.

(AGENCIES)

Gangs in crime-plagued El Salvador call a truce

SAN 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.

The document, signed by representatives of the country’s 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.

Local media 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.

Rising violence, much of it linked to local gangs, fueled a 9 per cent jump in the country’s murder rate last year.

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.

‘Considering 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.

The statement rejected media reports that the gangs were paid off by the government in exchange for putting down their weapons.

The Vatican 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.

(AGENCIES)

Unidentified gunmen kill father-son duo in Karachi

ISLAMABAD, 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, police said.

Salahuddin Haider 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.

Police described 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 community.

A large number of lawyers gathered at the hospital and shouted slogans against the police for their failure to arrest the gunmen.

The lawyers announced they would boycott courts to protest the attack and demanded the arrest of the killers.

Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan condemned the murder and ordered an inquiry.

Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province and the country’s 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 Shias.

In a separate incident, gunmen fired at the police guards of a political leader in Landhi area, police officials said.

Two policemen protecting the head of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement-Haqqaqi, Afaq Ahmad Khan, and another man were injured. The injured were taken to a local hospital.

A spokesman for the MQM-Haqqaqi said Khan was heading to Hyderabad, the second largest city in Sindh, when his police escort was attacked.

Khan escaped unhurt in the incident, he said.

Police officer Mirza Majeed said the attack was a terrorist act aimed at creating law and order problems in Karachi.

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 1947. (PTI)

Insight: Antidepressants give drugmakers the blues

LONDON, 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 drug’s failure. (agencies)

US breast cancer fundraising lags after abortion dispute

WASHINGTON, 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 group’s flagship ‘Race for the Cure’ fundraising events have failed to meet targets, a Komen spokeswoman said yesterday. Separately, at least five of the group’s leaders have stepped down in recent weeks. (agencies)

Opponents, supporters to face off outside high court healthcare hearings

WASHINGTON, 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 Obama’s 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

GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, Mar 24: US advisers yesterday said Stryker Corp’s <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)

Army reviewing traumatic stress diagnostic practices

WASHINGTON, 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)

Daily headaches common in soldiers after concussion

NEW 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)

Curbing C-sections could save countries billions

NEW 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 deliveries—an all-time high. (agencies)

Swapping protein for sugar may help blood pressure

NEW 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 supplement. (agencies)

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Student fitness improves with anti-obesity program

NEW 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. (agencies)



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