Citigroup to bail out $49 bn in credit crunch: Pandit


New York : Just two days after taking over, Citigroup's new head Vikram Pandit has taken the bull by the horns, with the giant bank saying it would assume $49 billion of debt in the US's unravelling home-mortgage credit meltdown.

The decision to bring the so-called structured-investment-vehicles (SIV) onto the company's balance sheets marked a turnaround for Citigroup, which in November said it would not consolidate the lagging SIVs.

UN rights council maintains pressure on Sudan and Myanmar


Geneva : The UN Human Rights Council has agreed to send its special rapporteur back to Myanmar to maintain pressure on the authorities over human rights and freedom of expression.

The council, concluding its sixth session in Geneva Friday, also voted to keep the post of special rapporteur to Sudan for another year, while disbanding the group of experts who were assigned to carry out a mission to the country in February.

It had accused the government of complicity in killings and rapes carried out by militia in Darfur.


Frequent mobile phone use may trigger mouth cancer


London : The use of mobile phones for long periods may trigger mouth cancer, shows a study by researchers in Israel.

Previous studies had generated conflicting results. While some researchers had said they found a link between cancer and excess mobile phone use, a few scientists had rejected the claim.

In the new study, scientists looked at the lifestyles of 402 people with benign mouth tumours and 56 with malignant ones. They were compared to a control group of 1,266 people.

Controversy in Spain over poet Lorca's lost bones


Madrid : In August 1936, one month after General Francisco Franco's right-wing nationalists had risen against Spain's leftist republican government, four men fell to the bullets of a Francoist firing squad near the southern city of Granada.

The executioners reportedly vented their fury especially on one of the victims, spitting on his body and calling him a "red queer" as he lay in the mass grave.

The 38-year-old victim was Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain's most beloved poet, whose verses on love and death are still read all over the world.


Chimpanzees do not experience menopause

By Xinhua

Washington : A new study of wild chimpanzees has found that these close human relatives do not routinely experience menopause, rebutting previous studies that had postulated female chimpanzees reach reproductive senescence at 35-40 years of age.

Together with recent data from wild gorillas and orangutans, the new finding published in the journal Current Biology this week suggests that human females are rare or even unique among primates in experiencing a lengthy post-reproductive lifespan.


Glaciers in west China shrinking

By Xinhua

Lanzhou (China) : Glaciers in China's high-altitude western areas have shrunk seven to 18 percent over the past five years, according to a new survey.

The research that started in May this year on the country's glaciers indicated an average shrinking of 7.4 percent compared with the results of the first survey completed in 2002.

A total area of nearly 20,000 square km, or around one-third of the country's total, has been surveyed in the new project.


Action against Hindraf justified, Malaysia tells diplomats

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 14 (IANS) The Malaysian government has told foreign missions here that the arrest of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) was to prevent chaos and racial division of society.

On Thursday, prominent ethnic Indian and Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar and four other associates were detained on sedition charges under the controversial ISA that allows for detention without trial. Uthayakumar had been released on bail Wednesday and rearrested the next day.


U.S. braces for new winter storms

NEW YORK, December 14, SPA -- U.S. weather forecasters said a new storm was expected to travel Friday from the Rocky Mountains toward the Plains states, the United Press International (UPI) reported.

The snowstorm is expected to reach toward the mid-Mississippi Valley Friday night before moving on into the northern Ohio River Valley.

Heavy snows were expected Saturday night and Sunday morning in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, southeastern New York and southern New England.


UN Worried over Gitmo Judicial Processes

United Nations, Dec 13 (Prensa Latina) A high United Nations official confirmed the concern of this organization on the difficulties of the judicial processes in the US base of Guantanamo, Cuba.

Martin Scheinin, UN special ombudsman on human rights in the struggle against terrorism, told the Human Rights Council the judicial processes do not fulfil the parameters of international laws.

The 2006 Military Law of Commissions, under which the judicial processes are being regulated, is not compatible with international laws, said the UN specialist.


Rich Not Helping Poor Fight Climatic Change

Bali, Indonesia, Dec 13 (Prensa Latina) Latin American countries demanded rich countries increase their financial support to help the world"s poorest nations adapt to the effects of climate change.

During the 13th UN Lecture on Climatic Change, Ministers of the environment of Latin America demanded industrialized countries to help them mitigate the consequences of global warming.