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Red Cross emblem paves way for Israel

Thu., Dec. 8, 2005

Geneva Delegates to an international conference accepted a new Red Cross emblem Thursday despite Syrian objections, paving the way for Israel to join the humanitarian movement after nearly six decades of exclusion.

The 192 signatories of the Geneva Conventions approved the new “red crystal” emblem by vote after last-ditch negotiations between Israel and Syria over Damascus’ demands for humanitarian access to Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights broke down.

“I can inform you that the protocol has just been adopted,” said Didier Pfirter, a Swiss diplomat who has been coordinating global efforts to muster support for the new emblem that would enable Israel to join the movement without having to use the red cross or Muslim red crescent already in use.

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to adopt the protocol by consensus, but it has been adopted by a clear majority,” said Pfirter, adding that he still did not have the exact vote count.

Most Afghans agree life is better now

Washington More than three-fourths of the people living in Afghanistan say living conditions, security from crime and freedom of expression have improved from the days when they were living under Taliban rule, an ABC News poll says.

On the questions of jobs and economic opportunity, people are evenly divided on whether economic opportunities are better or worse.

Almost nine in 10 – 87 percent – say the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2002 was a good thing for the people of Afghanistan. And three-fourths of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction, far higher than in the United States, where only three of 10 say that.

The optimism comes in a country where people say by a 2-1 margin that their own economic situation is bad, medical care is limited and basic services like electricity are not available for many people.

Six in 10 Afghans say attacks on U.S. troops cannot be justified, while three in 10 say they can.

Margaret Thatcher enters hospital, rests

London Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was admitted to a hospital Wednesday after feeling faint, and doctors said she was in stable condition and resting.

London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said the 80-year-old former leader, who governed Britain from 1979 to 1990, had undergone a number of tests and was being kept in the hospital overnight as a precaution.

British Broadcasting Corp. television reported that Thatcher felt unwell during a hairdresser’s appointment and was taken to the hospital by her bodyguard.

Conservative Party spokeswoman Zoe Healy said doctors were confident that she would be well enough to leave this morning.

Lion at Rome zoo treated for arthritis

Rome Veterinarians at Rome’s zoo treated an elderly lion for arthritis by inserting some 50 gold pellets into the animal’s muscles, officials said Wednesday.

The Asian lion, named Bellamy, had difficulty walking until the procedure two weeks ago in which 24-karat gold pellets were inserted into his spinal muscles near the joints, said the zoo’s chief veterinarian, Klaus Gunther Friedrich.

He said the gold helps to relieve muscle contraction around painful areas. The technique has been used before on dogs, cats and a tiger, but Friedrich said Bellamy was believed to be the first lion to undergo the treatment.

Friedrich said he did not believe the small amount of gold used was worth much.

“The lion is getting old. If we hadn’t intervened, the situation would have got worse,” crippling the lion’s mobility, Friedrich said.

After the 3 1/2 -hour operation, Bellamy appeared a little weak and shaky but was able to walk. Small dots along his back indicate where the injections were made.


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