News 25/07/06 India/World

30,000 Punjabis still ‘stranded’ in Lebanon
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 24
As many as 30,000 Punjabis were still stranded in Lebanon, claimed one of the evacuees who reached his Kalsian village near the last night. Un-remunerative forming was forcing Punjabi youth to countries like Lebanon, some of whom have been evacuated by the Indian Embassy in that country.
Now when that region has become war-ravaged parents of evacuated youths feel scared to send them again there. However the evacuees were still ready to return if conditions improved in that country.
According to Mr Joginder Singh of Kalsian village near here and an evacuee in Operation Sukoon, at least 30,000 Punjabis majority of them from farming families were stranded in Lebanon. “Besides 15,000 Punjabis living legally there an equal number had reportedly shifted allegedly in illegal manner. But the Indian embassy did not discriminate between the two categories and promptly prepared documents for the evacuation of everyone irrespective of his status in that country,” said Joginder Singh to The Tribune.
Surrounded by his relatives, who had come to know-his well-being Joginder Singh, a White Card holder of Lebanon said hundreds of youths who had gone in search of greener pastures after spending thousands , had to leave their property, money and everything they had with them. Evacuation, according to him would become more difficult in future as Syria had refused to give passage to evacuees. However, the naval ship carrying him along with 53 other Punjabis had passed through Larcana and Cyprus to reach Mumbai.
Terrorism in the last decade of 20th century, forced Joginder Singh, and many more, to leave the country and settle in any foreign country irrespective of future prospects. “As a large number of Sikh youth had been harassed either by the police or the hardliners my parents decided to send me to some foreign country in 1990. I was lucky enough to get permanent card at Lebanon a rigorous life for many years,” said Mr Joginder Singh.
Though terrorism was cited as major reason for shifting to a disturbed country like Lebanon he continued living there as agriculture was not remunerative enough to support families of three brothers here. “Though life is very hard in Lebanon, particularly for unskilled labour, it decided to settle permanently there considering economic position of my parents and brothers. Instead of being profitable agriculture has been pushing the family in vicious circle of loans and losses,” explained Mr Joginder Singh.
Mr Joginder went to Lebanon on June 24 after getting married to Baljit Kaur of Kaunke Kalan on February 24. Baljit Kaur like other members of families at Kalsian and Kaunke had been cursing the times when the elder members of both families allowed Joginder to return to Lebanon so soon. But we are happy that our prayers bore fruit, when the Indian embassy officials acted swiftly and arranged to send as many families as could,” thanked Mrs Bachan Kaur, mother of Mr Joginder Singh.
The old GT Road flooded after the downpour in Ludhiana on Monday. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

A view of the old and the newly-built structures of Jhulna Mahal Gurdwara in Amritsar. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma The two pillars in Jhulna Mahal Gurdwara symbolise the meeting of Guru Arjun Dev with Guru Hargobind Sahib. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Callous neglect
Amritsar has some of the finest architectural marvels of India. But most of these historical monuments have fallen into disrepair, thanks to the indifference of those at the helm of affairs. Varinder Walia reports

Many visitors who come to Amritsar do not realise that some of the finest architectural marvels and Sikh religious places are being steadily defaced. Amritsar is replete with a number of historical, archaeological, religious and scenic places, which have not been given their due attention.
Most of the ancient buildings lost their heritage value during kar seva. It is shocking to learn that some “wonders” that once existed in Punjab have disappeared now. One such “wonder” on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road is Jhulna Mahal Gurdwara. It is situated about six km from Tarn Taran, in the old village of Thathi Khara, near Doburji. The shaking arcade, popularly known as “Gurdwara Jhulna Mahal”, an important monument connected with the visit of Guru Arjun Dev, has been whitewashed without caring for the historicity of the monument.
The arcade is an important monument of the medieval period that could not be preserved in its original shape. A modern structure — the Dera of Kar Sewa Wale — has been constructed in the vicinity of the gurdwara. The kar seva is being carried out by Baba Hira Singh these days.
It is a common belief that Guru Arjun Dev used to stay at this place when the new city in Majha region was being founded with the construction of Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran.
Unfortunately, the place is being neglected today. The Babas of Kar Sewa Wale have started constructing a new gurdwara around the double pillars, symbolising the meeting of Guru Arjun Dev with his son Guru Hargobind Sahib. Surprisingly, the pillars remain covered with a saffron cloth and devotees can’t have look at them.
The masonry work done in the vicinity of Jhulna Mahal Gurdwara has also caused considerable damage to its unique architectural features. The well, made of small Nanakshahi bricks, has been broadened with new construction. As a result, it has lost its sheen. The municipal taps have been attached to the modern construction around the ancient well.
And it was the imagination of the Guru and masons of the period that blended all these elements together to produce one of the great wonders. The place attracted visitors and worshippers from far-flung areas. Instead of carrying out the repairs of the aging structures by getting the opinion of experts, a modern look is being given to some parts of the ancient structure.
Guru Arjun Dev made Amritsar the headquarters of his pontificate. He completed the digging of the tank, and a new town began to grow up around the sacred pool. In the centre of the tank, he built the Hari Mandir. In 1590, he built another Sikh shrine with a tank at Tarn Taran. The Guru was himself a man of fame and wealth, and his influence extended over Hindus and Muslims to such an extent that he incurred the wrath of Emperor Jahangir. Hearing a report that the Guru had shown sympathy towards Prince Khusru who had rebelled against him, Jahangir ordered him to be thrown into prison and, according to the account given in Tuzak-I-Jahangiri, the Guru’s death was caused directly by the orders of the Emperor in 1606.
A sevadar, while giving description of Jhulna Mahal Gurdwara, claims that when Emperor Jehangir was passing through the nearby road with bedecked elephants swaying, the curious Sikh sangat went up to the road to see the royal procession. It is said that Guru Arjun Dev blessed the magnificent place to “swing like an elephant”.
Another shaking arcade — Jhulna Mahal — is situated in the adjoining district of Gurdaspur. This Jhulna Mahal is also crying for immediate preservation. The arcade is an important monument connected with the medieval history of Gurdaspur town. The town is named after Guriaji who had bought the village and named it after himself.
The construction of this Jhulna Mahal in Gurdaspur district began in the middle of the eighteenth century and was meant to be the residence of Narain Dass, one of Guriaji’s grandsons. However, the construction could not progress beyond a wide wall comprising a set of arches. The wall came to be known as “Jhulna Mahal”, as it used to vibrate considerably if someone touched it. A document (dated 1839) of a Mahant stated that Rang Mahal, the residence of Narain Dass’ brother, Saran Dass, was built in 1737. It is believed that the Jhulna Mahal of Gurdaspur also belongs to that period. Some people here attribute the shaking of the wall to mystical powers.
The damage caused to many heritage buildings in the border belt has already drawn flak from heritage lovers. Even in 2003, the kar seva at the Golden Temple came in for severe criticism. The SGPC and the Akal Takht secretariat was flooded with objections raised over the alleged damage to the magnificent old structures in the past, but the vandalism of heritage continued.
“We Sikhs are either too naive or do not care for our past,” read a letter written by an SGPC member and President, Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, addressed to the then SGPC Chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar. He saw a “conspiracy to finish the Sikh heritage through the Babas of Kar Seva Wale” and had held Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra (who remained the SGPC Chief for 25 years) and his successors, “responsible” for this colossal damage. Earlier, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a former general secretary, had written to the SGPC to stop the ongoing gilding of the interiors of the Golden Temple, stating that it was not being done as per recommendations of experts. There are many such sites in Amritsar district, which, though quite ancient and associated with history, have neither been included in tourist circuits nor mentioned adequately in tourist literature.

Kar seva controversy
The institution of kar seva came under the scanner from the Sikh Sangat for the first time when in a shocking but unprecedented development, Amrik Singh of Dera Baba Jagtar Singh went underground after allegedly embezzling donations worth crores of rupees. However, Baba Amrik Singh levelled serious counter-allegations against Baba Jagtar Singh.
Baba Jagtar Singh had alleged that Amrik Singh had purchased about seven acres land in Hoshiarpur district in his own name recently. A Scorpio vehicle was purchased in the name of his (Amrik Singh’s) relative, he further alleged.
Earlier, a couple of years ago, Amrik Singh was held “responsible” for the missing of some things during the kar seva of the sarovar of the Golden Temple, but no action was taken against him. Amrik Singh, who is only about 38 years, had joined the Dera of Baba Jagtar Singh at the young age of 17 years. He had won the confidence of senior Sikh sants and was brought to Tarn Taran, the headquarters of the kar seva. Since he was found to be ‘worldly wise’, he was given the general power of attorney in July 1998. He had visited many developed countries, including the USA, with a view to collect donations. However, recently, he developed sharp differences with Baba Jagtar Singh when his activities were found suspicious.

SGPC versus the Babas of Kar Sewa Wale
The SGPC executive suddenly withdrew kar seva from Baba Jagtar Singh and Baba Lakha Singh on the pretext that they (the Babas) had indulged in “anti-SGPC” activities. The immediate provocation to ‘punish’ Baba Jagtar Singh was that he had accepted a siropa from the Congress stage at Tarn Taran. However, within 24 hours, the SGPC Chief did a volte-face. He had to call an emergency meeting to restore the kar seva to Baba Jagtar Singh, eulogising his services in the field of kar seva. The SGPC executive, however, took a principled decision not to give a free hand to the Babas to demolish the Sikh heritage. From now onward, the kar seva would be carried out on the basis of the recommendations of the heritage experts and on the approval of the Shiromani Committee. Had such a decision been taken immediately after the formation of the SGPC, the rich heritage would have been saved.
(photo: U.S. DoD) Israel Lebanon Photos Politics War»
Israel-Hezbollah fighting enters 13th day
CNN BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon entered a 13th day Monday, as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to the region for talks on the crisis. The Israel Defense Forces on Monday said its troops had seized two Hezbollah guerrillas during an operation in Maroun al-Ras, a town in southern Lebanon. The guerrillas were taken into custody on Sunday and are "suspected in involvement in terror activities," the IDF said. The two are being held in Israel. Hezbollah officials on Sunday conceded that Israel had taken control of Maroun al-Ras after days of ground fighting. The IDF on Monday also said its troops fought Hezbollah in the Bint Jubail area, north of Maroun al-Ras. The IDF has called Maroun al-Ras its "first foothold" in southern Lebanon in an effort to create a security buffer. According to the IDF, several Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded, but would not elaborate.
25.7.2006. 19:00:47

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was "time for a new Middle East" as she began talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who signalled there would be no letup on the Lebanon conflict.

"It is time for a new Middle East," Secretary Rice told reporters before the start of her talks with Mr Olmert in Jerusalem.

"A durable solution will be one that strengethens the forces of peace and democracy in the region.”

But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is determined to keep fighting Hezbollah and will take "severe measures" against the group.

Mr Olmert said: "Israel is determined to continue on in the fight against Hezbollah. We will ... stop them.”

”We will not hesitate to take severe measures against those who are aiming thousands of rockets and missiles against innocent civilians for the sole purpose of killing them.”

Israel has demanded that as part of a truce, Hezbollah be dismantled and the Lebanese army be deployed on the Israeli-Lebanese border, but has indicated it would accept an international peacekeeping force in the area.

But the Lebanese government insists there be a truce before a longer-term deal is worked out.

Mr Olmert acknowledged the Israeli offensive had caused humanitarian problems and said he would work with the US to try to
alleviate them.

Some 750,000 Lebanese have been displaced by the fighting, while Secretary Rice said both Israeli and Lebanese civilians were suffering as a result of the fighting.

Secretary Rice, who has called for a ceasefire but not at any price, said "we need to ensure that we will not return to the previous situation."

Peres appeals to Lebanese people

In a speech to Israel's parliament, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres appealed to the Lebanese people to disarm Hezbollah and make peace with Israel.

Mr Peres also said he was certain of victory, saying "in this war, there is no alternative to victory against terrorists. Morally, Hezbollah has already been defeated. It will also be defeated militarily."

In a direct appeal to the Lebanese people, Mr Peres said: "You proved that you could throw the Syrians out of the country, and you can rid your country of the weapons of Hezbollah. This could be your great opportunity.”

"You have at your service an army of 80,000 troops. Where are they?"

He said once Hezbollah was no longer a threat, Israel and Lebanon could make peace.

Ground offensive plans

Meanwhile a senior Israeli army commander has revealed that Israel's ground offensive will not go beyond southern Lebanon.

Outlining the scope of the two-week-old campaign for the first time, the commander, Colonel Hemi Livni, said Israeli forces would focus on trying to destroy outposts and rocket launching sites of Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.

"The intention is to deal with the Hezbollah infrastructure that is within reach," Colonel Livni, who commands Israeli troops in the western sector of southern Lebanon, told Israel Army Radio.

"I don't know of any intention to go 70 kilometres into Lebanon," he added
Laser useful for severe facial acne
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Laser treatment can reduce inflammatory facial acne lesions with few side effects, new research shows. Moreover, it appears to work even with the darkest skin types.
The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, are based on a study of 22 patients, with light to dark skin types, who underwent three treatments with the laser -- specifically a1450-nanometer diode laser -- at 3 to 4 week intervals.
The subjects received treatment at high or low doses on the left or the right side of the face, the report indicates.
After three treatments, average acne lesion counts were reduced by about 75% and 70% with the low and high dose treatment, respectively, Dr. Ming H. Jih, from the University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues report. These reductions basically persisted at a 12-month follow-up examination.

Side effects were minimal -- typically transient redness and swelling -- and the procedure-related pain was well tolerated, the investigators note.
The results indicate that the laser is a safe and effective treatment for facial inflammatory acne vulgaris, the researchers conclude.
They say it is "a suitable first-line, second-line, or (add-on) treatment modality for moderate to severe acne."
SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, July 2006
Breaking NewsTue, 25 Jul 2006
(photo: NASA/Gianni Woods)
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Next space shuttle readied for August launch
ABC News ' By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA moved space shuttle Atlantis from its hangar on Monday to the massive Kennedy Space Center assembly building where it will be attached to a fuel tank and twin booster rockets in preparation for launch next month. Liftoff of Atlantis and six astronauts is targeted for August 27 or 28.
Scientists Say They’ve Found a Code Beyond Genetics in DNA

Published: July 25, 2006
Researchers believe they have found a second code in DNA in addition to the genetic code.
Loren Williams/Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology
In a living cell, the DNA double helix wraps around a nucleosome, above center, and binds to some of its proteins, known as histones.

The genetic code specifies all the proteins that a cell makes. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped. The spools both protect and control access to the DNA itself.
The discovery, if confirmed, could open new insights into the higher order control of the genes, like the critical but still mysterious process by which each type of human cell is allowed to activate the genes it needs but cannot access the genes used by other types of cell.
The new code is described in the current issue of Nature by Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute in Israel and Jonathan Widom of Northwestern University in Illinois and their colleagues.
There are about 30 million nucleosomes in each human cell. So many are needed because the DNA strand wraps around each one only 1.65 times, in a twist containing 147 of its units, and the DNA molecule in a single chromosome can be up to 225 million units in length.
Biologists have suspected for years that some positions on the DNA, notably those where it bends most easily, might be more favorable for nucleosomes than others, but no overall pattern was apparent. Drs. Segal and Widom analyzed the sequence at some 200 sites in the yeast genome where nucleosomes are known to bind, and discovered that there is indeed a hidden pattern.
Knowing the pattern, they were able to predict the placement of about 50 percent of the nucleosomes in other organisms.
The pattern is a combination of sequences that makes it easier for the DNA to bend itself and wrap tightly around a nucleosome. But the pattern requires only some of the sequences to be present in each nucleosome binding site, so it is not obvious. The looseness of its requirements is presumably the reason it does not conflict with the genetic code, which also has a little bit of redundancy or wiggle room built into it.
Having the sequence of units in DNA determine the placement of nucleosomes would explain a puzzling feature of transcription factors, the proteins that activate genes. The transcription factors recognize short sequences of DNA, about six to eight units in length, which lie just in front of the gene to be transcribed.
But these short sequences occur so often in the DNA that the transcription factors, it seemed, must often bind to the wrong ones. Dr. Segal, a computational biologist, believes that the wrong sites are in fact inaccessible because they lie in the part of the DNA wrapped around a nucleosome. The transcription factors can only see sites in the naked DNA that lies between two nucleosomes.
The nucleosomes frequently move around, letting the DNA float free when a gene has to be transcribed. Given this constant flux, Dr. Segal said he was surprised they could predict as many as half of the preferred nucleosome positions. But having broken the code, “We think that for the first time we have a real quantitative handle” on exploring how the nucleosomes and other proteins interact to control the DNA, he said.
The other 50 percent of the positions may be determined by competition between the nucleosomes and other proteins, Dr. Segal suggested.
Several experts said the new result was plausible because it generalized the longstanding idea that DNA is more bendable at certain sequences, which should therefore favor nucleosome positioning
Critics oppose U.S.-India nuclear deal


Associated Press

WASHINGTON - As the House prepares to vote on a plan to share civilian nuclear technology with India, critics are mounting last-ditch efforts to scuttle an accord they say obliterates the global goal of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.
Lawmakers are trying to attach conditions that, if adopted, could cause the deal to collapse. One possible proposal would require that India halt production of material that could be used to make bombs; another would call for President Bush to certify that India is cooperating to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
India probably would balk at such conditions, and supporters of the plan have vowed to fight any attempts to include in the legislation what they see as deal-breakers.
The plan, which was expected to be voted on Wednesday, would overturn decades of U.S. policy by allowing trade in nuclear fuel and technology with India in return for safeguards and inspections at India's civilian nuclear plants; military plants would be off-limits.
The Bush administration is asking Congress to make an exception for India in U.S. laws that bar nuclear trade with countries that have not submitted to full international inspections. India built its nuclear weapons program outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Supporters say the deal provides crucial energy to a friendly country that has a strong nonproliferation record, and it allows U.S. companies to crack a lucrative market. Critics say it ruins the global nonproliferation treaty and could start a nuclear arms race between India and its rival and neighbor Pakistan.
Speaking Monday night in New Delhi, Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: "Our nuclear doctrine affirms that India will not resort to (a) first strike and never use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. India's nuclear doctrine has a purely defensive orientation."
While the accord has broad support from members of both political parties, lawmakers will soon leave for their summer recess. They return to a crowded legislative agenda and to November elections. The full Senate also must vote on the initiative.
In addition, the deal would have to clear the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an assembly of nations that export nuclear material.
As the House vote nears, several lawmakers sent a letter Monday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice questioning why the State Department has yet to submit a required semiannual report that details the activities of foreigners deemed to have dealt with Iran or Syria in nuclear trade.
The lawmakers suggested the department was stalling the report until the India deal had cleared Congress. Past reports, they noted, have accused India of proliferation.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said in a statement that it was "staggering that the State Department could be failing to provide Congress with information about illicit transfers of nuclear and chemical weapons-related technology and goods from entities located in the state of India."
State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Monday that he believed the report would be released shortly. He said "there are no political considerations that are delaying its release" to Congress.
Critics also sought to link the Indian deal to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security that said Islamabad was building a nuclear reactor able to fuel up to 50 atomic bombs a year.
"If either India or Pakistan starts increasing its nuclear arsenal, the other side will respond in kind," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "The Bush administration's proposed nuclear deal with India is making that much more likely."