Friday, October 10, 2008

Khmer Style of dresses

Monday, October 6, 2008

Every School Needs to have AIDS Education..... Click to read more

Basic AIDS education remains fundamental to the global effort to prevent HIV transmission. AIDS education can – and does – target all ages, and sexually active adults are one principal target. AIDS education is also vitally important for young people and the school offers a crucial point-of-contact for their receiving this education. Providing AIDS education in schools, however, is sometimes a contentious issue. This page will explain why AIDS education in school is so vital, why it is so controversial, and offer some suggestions as to how an effective program can be sensibly and efficiently achieved.
Why do we need AIDS education in schools?
Many young people lack basic information about HIV and AIDS, and are unaware of the ways in which HIV infection can occur, and of the ways in which HIV infection can be prevented. Schools are an excellent point of contact for young people – almost all young people attend school for some part of their childhood, and while they are there, they expect to learn new information, and are more receptive to it than they might be in another environment.
Most young people become sexually active in their teens, and by the time this occurs they need to know how to prevent themselves becoming infected with HIV.
Other ways in which young people might access AIDS education may not be universal – not all young people will access the same media, for example, or access the same medical services. However, the school is a place where almost all young people can receive the same message. Other media by which young people are presumed to learn about sexual health may not exist in all cases or may be misleading.
Traditionally, the responsibility of teaching a young person about ‘the birds and the bees’ has been seen as being a parental one. In these days of HIV, however, this type of basic information about reproduction is insufficient and will not give young people the information they need to be able to protect themselves. Parents may not provide even this limited information because they are too embarrassed, or because their beliefs oppose it. Young people, too, may be embarrassed discussing sexual matters in a situation where their parents are present. At school they are in a situation where they are independent, and not subject to parental disapproval.
“ If I wouldn't of learned about all the STD's that I could get from being sexually active I might not be a virgin right now. ”
- Erika -
In some countries, young people may not be able to access family planning or sexual health clinics because of their age – or they may be able to access such services but think that their age precludes them from access. Young people often know that they require information, especially if they are becoming sexually active, but may feel too embarrassed to actively seek out sexual health information, or may fear that their parents may find out. In many parts of the world, the fear of ‘what if they tell my parents’ still prevents young people from approaching medical staff, especially family doctors who may know their parents.
The principal reason that AIDS education in schools is so important is that all over the world, a huge amount of young people still become infected with HIV. Most young people become sexually active in their teens, and by the time this occurs they need to know how to prevent themselves becoming infected with HIV. If they are to be enabled to protect themselves, they must be given the information that empowers them to do so.
Attitudes to AIDS education in schools
The main obstacle to effective AIDS education for young people in schools is the adults who determine the curriculum. These adults – parents, curriculum planners, teachers or legislators – often consider the subject to be too ‘adult’ for young people – they have an idea of ‘protecting the innocence’ of young people. This often occurs for moral or religious reasons, and can cause very heated debate.
There is also obstruction to adequate AIDS education from adults who are concerned that teaching young people about sex, about sexually transmitted infections, HIV and pregnancy – that providing them with this information will somehow encourage young people to begin having sex when they otherwise might not have done.
“ I come from a family who believes that having sex out of marriage is not the moral thing to do. I also don't think sex ed. is something that young kids should be learning. Learning sex at a young age is like provoking more young people to have sex just for the fact they want to experience it for themselves instead of just getting information about it. ”

- Monica -
This attitude still prevents adequate HIV and sex education from being taught in schools, in spite of the fact that it is a view that the majority do not share. A study in America, for example, shows that the majority of Americans (55%) believes that giving teens information about how to obtain and use condoms will not encourage them to have sexual intercourse earlier than they would have otherwise (39% say it would encourage them)1 .
The same study tells us that only 7% of Americans believe that young people should not receive sex education in schools. Many adults recognise that informing young people about the dangers of HIV is the best way to prevent them from becoming infected in later life. Many schools in many countries do provide adequate AIDS education – but many, sill, do not. Young people are rarely asked for their opinions by those adults who decide what they will study – but when they are asked, they almost always demand more comprehensive sex and HIV education.

“ I am a student, living in Johannesburg, South Africa. I believe that sex ed that is handled appropriately, and that is age-appropriate, will really empower kids to make healthier, informed and positive choices. ”
- Maire -
In some places, legislation may dictate the type and quality of AIDS education that schools are allowed to offer – some countries have no policies on AIDS education, allowing schools to include it or not, as they decide. Other countries may have policies that specifically preclude AIDS education, or certain types of AIDS education. Legislation allowing or inhibiting certain types of AIDS education often comes from the moral views of the voting majority – or reflects the religious attitudes of the government in power. The most commonly used types of AIDS education are discussed in our page on AIDS education and young people.
It is within the context of these attitudes and beliefs that teachers and educators must work to provide the most effective information and education they are able to.
When should young people start to be taught about AIDS?
There is no set age at which AIDS education should start, and different countries have different regulations and recommendations. In some areas this is a very sensitive subject, and some groups regard teaching young people how to protect themselves as a form of abuse. It seems obvious, however, that people should know how to protect themselves before they begin having sex, rather than after.
“ At school, my sex ed was pretty poor. It started in year 8 when we are about 12-13, which is kind of 2 late really. Quite a few of my friends had already had heterosexual sex and had not protected themselves at all. ”
- Laura -
Especially when educating young people, AIDS education often shares territory with sex education. Education which teaches about sex and sexuality can also teach about preventing pregnancy and STI infection.
“ I know by the time I was taught about sex it was too late, I had already made my mistake. ”
- Safiyyah -

AIDS education should start at about seven or eight years of age. When working with very young people, this type of education does not necessarily need to involve learning about sexual activities or drugs, but should at least teach children that 'AIDS' is not a pejorative term of abuse. Playground name-calling, to some extent, reflects attitudes in general society, but it can also grow up to become discrimination.
Planning a good curriculum
In an academic situation, especially with younger learners, some subjects fail to impart information to the students simply because the students are not interested, and do not pay attention. This is unlikely to be the case with AIDS education; the simple fact that AIDS education involves the discussion of sex – a topic of fascination for young people who are discovering their own sexualities – is likely to ensure at least initial attention. This attention will wane, however, if the information is not imparted in a lesson interesting enough to maintain students’ concentration. It is not only important to have AIDS education, but to provide AIDS education in the right way.
In addition to providing information, a good, class-based lesson where a pupil is amongst his/her peers can help to shape attitudes, reduce prejudice, and alter behaviour.
The following are a few of the important points to consider when planning an AIDS education lesson or curriculum.
Age of students

Is the material that you intend to cover appropriate to the age of the young people in the class? Education about HIV needs to commence early in childhood and develop through adolescence and into adulthood – starting before students are of an age at which they might encounter high-risk situations, but at an early age young people do not require detailed information. This information should be delivered gradually, as they grow older.
Classroom prejudices
School playgrounds often contain many prejudices, and you will probably have to deal with more than one in an AIDS-awareness lesson. HIV+ people, especially, face prejudice around the world that can lead to the continued spread of the virus. In some schools, the words ‘gay or ‘AIDS’ may be used as a term of abuse – this must be addressed, too. Certainly, the material covered in class must reflect the diversity of the community. Prejudices often result from ignorance. ‘Can I get it from toilet-seats?’ is a common question illustrating just such ignorance. This type of misunderstanding not only engenders prejudice, it also causes unnecessary anxiety.
Current knowledge

AIDS education can be targeted towards areas of informational need if you are aware of what young people already know about AIDS. The best way to find out this information is by asking them.
Active learning
It is not enough to simply give students information about HIV and AIDS for them to learn. The learning-by-rote approach common in traditional academic settings provides students with information but does not allow them to absorb the social and practical aspects of how this information might be put to use. AIDS education should never involve pupils sitting silently, writing and memorising facts.
Active learning offers an opportunity to make AIDS education lessons fun
‘Active learning’ approaches are now seen as the most effective way that young people can learn health-related and social-skills. Group-work and role-play are particularly important methods in which students might discover the practical aspects of the information they are given. These methods also allow pupils an opportunity to practise and build skills –saying “No” to sex, for example – and pupils retain information better if they are offered an opportunity to apply it.
Active learning, furthermore, offers an opportunity to make AIDS education lessons fun. AIDS education classes can be constructed to involve quizzes, games, or drama, for example – and can still be very effective learning sessions.
Involving parents and guardians
Many schools already have a good deal of input from parents and families of their pupils, and this input may go as far as being allowed to determine the content of the curriculum. If possible, it is usually advantageous to involve the parents and guardians in the planning process, before an AIDS education curriculum is decided – parents who have already agreed the content that their children will study are unlikely to complain about it being unsuitable. Furthermore, parents who are involved in the education of their children will be able to give additional support, if it is needed, outside the classroom.
Other sources
Outside agencies or organisations may also be able to make a positive contribution to an AIDS education curriculum in a way that the school’s internal resources will not. Some local health agencies will offer talks within a school, as will some local HIV organisations. Check out what is available. This has the additional advantage of building a bridge between the pupils and an external source of help or advice.

Some areas and countries will have legislation covering what sex or AIDS education can or should be given. If this is the case, you will have to make sure that your curriculum conforms to local guidelines. Other legislative areas in which AIDS may effect your school are :
– does your school’s anti-bullying policy adequately protect HIV+ and gay pupils?
– does your school’s admissions policy contain measures to prevent discrimination against HIV+ pupils?
Health and Safety
– does your school’s health & safety policy include universal precautions policy?
Considering cultures
Planning an AIDS education syllabus should involve some consideration of the culture in which the learners live. Many cultures have a specific and well-defined set of views on human sexuality, and even at an early age, young learners will have been influenced by them.
The primary factor in determining what information is given to the class should be their age (see above), and cultural attitudes cannot be allowed to censor the information given. Most cultures frown, for example, on talking openly about HIV transmission routes, but this is a necessary part of the education process. AIDS education should provide this information and still remain sensitive, wherever possible, to cultural and religious sensibilities.
The culture of the learners is an ever-present factor in the classroom, and this culture provides the context in which AIDS education must take place.
What materials are already available?
In the years since the AIDS epidemic began, there have been many disparate efforts to prevent or reduce HIV infection by educating people about the dangers of AIDS, and enabling them to protect themselves from infection. A good deal of classroom material has been created, focusing on young people from cultures around the world. Too often, when an AIDS education curriculum is to be planned, the planners spend considerable time constructing a resource that is ultimately unnecessary as there are already materials available that would suffice. If necessary, spend time adapting existing resources for your class, but it should now never be necessary to produce completely new material.
Making it cross-curricular

HIV and AIDS education is often provided that deals only with medical and biological facts, and not with the real-life situations that young people find themselves in AIDS should also not be looked at from an entirely social perspective, either – effective AIDS education needs to take into account the fact that both scientific and social knowledge are vital to providing a pupil with adequate AIDS awareness. There is much more to HIV prevention than simply imparting the basic facts. Knowing how the virus reproduces, for example, won’t help someone to negotiate condom use. AIDS education must be a balance of scientific knowledge and social skills. Only if life skills are taught, and matters such as relationships, sexuality and the risks of drug use discussed, will young people be able to handle situations where they might be at risk of HIV infection. Furthermore, questions or comments about HIV may arise at unexpected moments, and teachers from a wide range of disciplines need to know how to answer them.
Are any students HIV+?
When dealing with any class of young people, you can’t make assumptions about their HIV status. In high-prevalence areas it is especially likely that one or some class-members will be HIV+, but this could be the case anywhere. Universal precautions should be taught as part of a HIV awareness lesson. AIDS education specifically tailored for HIV+ people is an important aspect of HIV prevention, but applies only in a class where every student is HIV+.
Sexuality of students
On average, at least one student in every class will be gay. You can’t make assumptions about the sexuality of the students in your class, or about the sexualities in the families that they come from – and for this reason, your HIV lessons need to include information about and for people of all sexualities.
Making it work in the classroom
The process of educating young people about AIDS can be a challenging one. Even if all the factors mentioned above are considered, a lesson can be unsuccessful if the teacher is inadequately prepared, uncomfortable or uncommitted. Anyone who has experienced the education system is aware that the atmosphere within a lesson is key to students retention of the course information.
Teaching the teachers
Teachers need to be clear on their own feelings and beliefs.
AIDS education necessarily involves some detailed discussion of sexual matters. If teachers are uncomfortable with this, they will convey this discomfort to the class – and the message that ‘sex is not nice to talk about ’ is the precise opposite of what AIDS education aims to convey. Before taking an AIDS education class, teachers need to be clear on their own feelings and beliefs as they relate to sex, death, illness and drug use.

Teachers also need to feel that they are entirely clear on the information that they will be passing on – they need to feel confident that they are able to answer any questions that might be asked. This necessitates an adequate level of teacher-training – something that is sadly lacking in many parts of the world. In India, for example, where estimates suggest that more than 2 million people are living with HIV, 70% of teachers have been given no training or information at all 2.
Listening to the learners
Young people who have an input into their AIDS education have said that they want their AIDS education to take place in all academic years of their school, to use active learning methods, to include a balance of facts and social awareness, to be built on what pupils already know – and, crucially, to be a separate topic. Whilst Biology, Geography and English can – and should – mention AIDS in the context of their subject matter, young people specifically ask for syllabus time devoted to providing them with good, well-planned and balanced AIDS education.
It is also important to recognise that the young people who make up the class may be uncomfortable with the subject – for cultural or personal reasons. Learners cannot be compelled to feel comfortable, but can be induced. Some basic tips that can help to decrease discomfort are : * Don’t expect a learner to speak in front of their classmates – unless they have volunteered to do so.
* Allow learners to consult and plan in groups before presenting any information to the class.
* Remember that some learners may have relevant personal issues that they will be reluctant to share – they may be gay, for example, of HIV+.
* Listen to the learners – allow the class to ask questions and to express what they want from an AIDS syllabus.
Last word
In spite of all the efforts that the past two decades have seen in AIDS prevention, the epidemic still presents a serious challenge to societies around the world. Every year, increasing numbers of people globally are infected with HIV, and people continue to die. AIDS education for young people is a crucial weapon in the HIV-prevention arsenal, young people are one of the main groups who must be targeted, and the school is the most important means of reaching them.
Still, however, schools in many countries around the world do not have adequate AIDS education curriculum. Although it is not a legislative requirement in all countries that AIDS education is provided, it remains a requirement of the global effort against AIDS. Every young person who passes through the school system anywhere in the world should come out knowing how to protect themselves from AIDS. This is not only the responsibility of every adult who is involved – it is the right of young people everywhere.From..

Sunday, October 5, 2008

can I have sex during pregnancy? Click to read more

If you're pregnant or even planning a pregnancy, you've probably found an abundance of information about sex before pregnancy (that is, having sex in order to conceive) and sex after childbirth (general consensus: expect a less active sex life when there's a newborn in the house).
If you're having a normal pregnancy, sex is considered safe during all stages of the pregnancy.Download Clip Here

But there's less talk about the topic of sex during pregnancy, perhaps because of our culture's tendency to dissociate expectant mothers from sexuality. Like many parents-to-be, you may have questions about the safety of sex and what's normal for most couples.

Well, what's normal tends to vary widely, but you can count on the fact that there will be changes in your sex life. Open communication will be the key to a satisfying and safe sexual relationship during pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

So what's a "normal pregnancy"? It's one that's considered low-risk for complications such as miscarriage or pre-term labor. Talk to your doctor, nurse-midwife, or other pregnancy health care provider if you're uncertain about whether you fall into this category. (The next section of this article may help, too.)

Of course, just because sex is safe during pregnancy doesn't mean you'll necessarily want to have it! Many expectant mothers find that their desire for sex fluctuates during certain stages in the pregnancy. Also, many women find that sex becomes uncomfortable as their bodies get larger.

You and your partner need to keep the lines of communication open regarding your sexual relationship. Talk about other ways to satisfy your need for intimacy, such as kissing, caressing, and holding each other. You also may need to experiment with other positions for sex to find those that are the most comfortable.

Many women find that they lose their desire and motivation for sex late in the pregnancy - not only because of their size but also because they're preoccupied with the impending delivery and the excitement of becoming a new parent.

When It's Not Safe

There are two types of sexual behavior that aren't safe for any pregnant woman:

* If you engage in oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina. Blowing air can cause an air embolism (a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble), which can be potentially fatal for mother and child.

* You should not have sex with a partner whose sexual history is unknown to you or who may have a sexually transmitted disease, such as herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, or HIV. If you become infected, the disease may be transmitted to your baby, with potentially dangerous consequences.

If your doctor, nurse-midwife, or other pregnancy health care provider anticipates or detects certain significant complications with your pregnancy, he or she is likely to advise against sexual intercourse. The most common risk factors include:

* a history or threat of miscarriage

* a history of pre-term labor (you've previously delivered a baby before 37 weeks) or signs indicating the risk of pre-term labor (such as premature uterine contractions)

* unexplained vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping

* leakage of amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds the baby)

* placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta (the blood-rich structure that nourishes the baby) is situated down so low that it covers the cervix (the opening of the uterus)

* incompetent cervix, a condition in which the cervix is weakened and dilates (opens) prematurely, raising the risk for miscarriage or premature delivery

* multiple fetuses (you're having twins, triplets, etc.)

Common Questions and Concerns

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about sex during pregnancy.

Can sex harm my baby?

No, not directly. Your baby is fully protected by the amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag that holds the fetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus. There's also a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and helps guard against infection. The penis does not come into contact with the fetus during sex.

Can intercourse or orgasm cause miscarriage or contractions?

In cases of normal, low-risk pregnancies, the answer is no. The contractions that you may feel during and just after orgasm are entirely different from the contractions associated with labor. However, you should check with your health care provider to make sure that your pregnancy falls into the low-risk category. Some doctors recommend that all women stop having sex during the final weeks of pregnancy, just as a safety precaution, because semen contains a chemical that may actually stimulate contractions. Check with your health care provider to see what he or she thinks is best.

Is it normal for my sex drive to increase or decrease during pregnancy?

Actually, both of these possibilities are normal (and so is everything in between). Many pregnant women find that symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and the increased need to urinate make sex too bothersome, especially during the first trimester. Generally, fatigue and nausea subside during the second trimester, and some women find that their desire for sex increases. Also, some women find that freedom from worries about contraception, combined with a renewed sense of closeness with their partner, makes sex more fulfilling. Desire generally subsides again during the third trimester as the uterus grows even larger and the reality of what's about to happen sets in.

Your partner's desire for sex is likely to increase or decrease as well. Some men feel even closer to their pregnant partner and enjoy the changes in their bodies. Others may experience decreased desire because of anxiety about the burdens of parenthood, or because of concerns about the health of both the mother and their unborn child.

Your partner may have trouble reconciling your identity as a sexual partner with your new (and increasingly visible) identity as an expectant mother. Again, remember that communication with your partner can be a great help in dealing with these issues.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your health care provider if you're unsure whether sex is safe for you. Also, call if you notice any unusual symptoms after intercourse, such as pain, bleeding, or discharge, or if you experience contractions that seem to continue after sex.

Remember, "normal" is a relative term when it comes to sex during pregnancy. You and your partner need to discuss what feels right for both of you.

The Democrat party's Apirak Kosayodhin won

The Democrat party's Apirak Kosayodhin won a sweeping victory in yesterday’s Bangkok governor election, polling more than 991,000 votes and bettering his result of four years ago.

He won nearly twice as many votes as his rival Prapas Chongsa-nguan of the People Power party.

Mr Apirak was seeking a second term and was re-elected for another four years. Four years ago, he won the race with 911,441 votes.

Unofficial voting results late last night showed Mr Apirak gained 991,081 votes, representing 45.93 per cent of voters who went to the polls, followed by Mr Prapas with 543,488 (25.19 per cent), Chuwit Kamolvisit with 340,616 (15.79 per cent), Kriengsak Charoenwongsak with 260,051 (12.05 per cent), and Leena Jangjanja on 6,267 (0.29 per cent).

Turnout for the election was 54.18 per cent or 2,214,320 votes out of 4,087,329 eligible voters, according to the Election Commission. The EC earlier expected turnout to be about 70 per cent. In the previous election four years ago, turnout was 62.5 per cent.

Mr Apirak is the second governor after former Bangkok governor Chamlong Srimuang to be elected for a second consecutive term.

Mr Apirak yesterday claimed success as governor in pushing for the 2.2km extension of the skytrain to be built across the Chao Phraya river with City Hall money.

He said his victory resulted from his work in the social and environmental area.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the government to work closely with Mr Apirak despite the Democrats being an opposition party. "I hope the government would be broad-minded," said Mr Abhisit, adding that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat had promised to give financial support to the Bangkok governor no matter what party he came from.

According to surveys by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, voters hope he will carry on with many projects he has introduced in the past four years as Bangkok governor.

They also want the next governor to solve Bangkok problems including traffic congestion.

Obama rejects terror link 'smear'

Obama rejects terror link 'smear'

Barack Obama says his opponents are trying to "distract with smears"
US Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has hit back at claims by his Republican rival that he associated with "terrorists".

Mrs Palin said Senator Obama had been "palling around" with an ex-member of 1960s US-based militant group.

Mr Obama said the Republicans were out of touch and trying to distract voters from the real issues.

Alaska Governor Palin has defended the remarks, which she made several times, saying it was "fair to talk about".

At campaign stops in Colorado and California over the weekend, Mrs Palin attacked Senator Obama over his link to Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground movement.

The radical movement waged a violent campaign against the Vietnam War during the 1960s when Mr Obama was a child.

Mrs Palin described Mr Obama as someone who saw the US "as being so imperfect... he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country".

In the 1990s, Mr Ayers hosted a Democrat campaign event at his home, attended by Mr Obama.

Mr Obama accused the McCain campaign of engaging in "swift boat" politics - a reference to a campaign of attacks on John Kerry's military record during the 2004 presidential campaign.

'Out of ideas'

Mr Obama once served on a charity board with Mr Ayers but the White House hopeful has denied having any close association with him or his views and has denounced the Weather Underground group.

Mrs Palin said the issue was fair to talk about

He has described Ms Palin's comments as offensive and false.

The Illinois senator told his supporters at a rally in North Carolina that John McCain was "gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance".

"They'd rather tear our campaign down than lift this country up," he said.

"That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time."

The party has accused the Republicans of gutter politics.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said that the last few weeks had seen Mr McCain "morph into a desperate angry candidate" and that it made him sad that the McCain campaign was "resorting to these tactics".

Commentators say Mrs Palin's attack forms part of a broader Republican strategy to attack Mr Obama's character.

Turnout vital

The Obama campaign responded with a new advertisement, which will air nationally on cable TV stations, claiming Mr McCain has behaved erratically during the Wall Street meltdown.

Weathermen: Home-grown radicals

The commercial says Mr McCain is attacking Mr Obama personally to distract voter attention from the loss of 750,000 American jobs this year and continuing financial turmoil.

"And John McCain?" the advertisement asks, before answering: "Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."

Mrs Palin has defended her comments, saying they were "about an association that has been known but hasn't been talked about".

"I think it's fair to talk about where Barack Obama kicked off his political career, in the guy's living room."

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said the issue was a test of Mr Obama's character.

"It goes to the issue of what kind of judgment would allow an unrepentant domestic terrorist to host a political event for you in his home," he told ABC News.

The row has dominated the media over the weekend and came ahead of a Monday deadline for voters to register in more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida.

The latest polls put Barack Obama ahead of John McCain but voter turnout could be vital in deciding the outcome of the 4 November presidential election.

The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington says that with a month to go until polling, the politics on both sides are expected to get much more personal.

Germany clinches bank rescue deal

Germany clinches bank rescue deal

Hypo's problems should have been revealed earlier, a minister says
Germany's finance ministry has agreed a 50bn euro ($70bn; £40bn) plan to save one of the country's biggest banks.

The deal, reached with private banks, to save Hypo Real Estate is worth 15m euros more than the first rescue attempt, which fell apart on Saturday.

Germany earlier announced an unlimited guarantee for all private savings, a move followed later by Denmark.

Meanwhile, French giant BNP Paribas has confirmed it has agreed to take over parts of ailing Fortis bank.

The Icelandic government, meanwhile, has been working through the night to try to shore up its entire banking system.

The country's banks have now agreed measures to stabilise its financial system, where last week the currency fell by a fifth against the dollar.

We tell all savings account holders that your deposits are safe. The federal government assures it

Angela Merkel

Germany's finance ministry said that with the "mutually agreed solution" Hypo Real Estate would be stabilised, and "Germany strengthened as a place to conduct finance in difficult times".

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel moved to reassure German savers that all their deposits would be safe.

Similar unilateral guarantees issued by the Irish and Greek governments last week were criticised in Berlin and other European capitals.

But after an emergency meeting with the central bank earlier, Ms Merkel said: "We will not allow the distress of one financial institution to distress the entire system. For that reason, we are working hard to secure Hypo Real Estate.

"We tell all savings account holders that your deposits are safe. The federal government assures it."

BBC business editor Robert Peston said the UK Treasury was attempting to clarify the details of Germany's guarantee to savers.

If the move does amount to a 100% government guarantee of all German savings deposits, other EU states - including the UK - would have to follow suit, says our correspondent.

The British chancellor, Alistair Darling, has said he is ready to take "pretty big steps that we wouldn't take in ordinary times" to assist the British economy.

Banks strained

On Saturday, leaders of Europe's four biggest economies - Germany, France, Britain and Italy - decided against a co-ordinated US-style bank bail-out, while vowing to stabilise markets.

The problems of Hypo Real Estate have put further strain on other financial institutions, which are struggling against a crisis of confidence in the global financial system.

Ms Merkel said bank managers had to be held accountable

Late on Sunday, French bank BNP Paribas confirmed that it had agreed to buy 75% of Belgium and Luxembourg holdings of the giant Fortis financial group, creating one of Europe's biggest savings banks.

The governments of Belgium and Luxembourg will in return take a minority stake in BNP Paribas.

The Dutch arm of Fortis has been nationalised by the Netherlands government.

Iceland's government is also reported to be considering a $14bn (£8bn) injection into the banking system, having bailed out the country's third largest bank, Glitnir, last week.


Ms Merkel said that managers at financial institutions should be held accountable for "irresponsible behaviour".

Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck accused Hypo Real Estate's managers of misleading the government over the true extent of bank's troubles.

European governments are as dazed and confused by the mayhem in the global banking system as most of the rest of us

Robert Peston
BBC business editor

Peston's view: Lost in translation
Send us your comments
Iceland shores up economy
But he said Berlin would do all it could to prevent the bank's collapse, to avoid "incalculably large" damage to Germany and financial services providers in Europe.

The BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin said that the German move would be an undoubted relief for investors and sends an important message to the German public that banks will not be allowed to go under.

Analysts say the question remains as to how the markets will react when they open on Monday morning.

The initial signs were not encouraging as share-trading in Australia and New Zealand opened in decline.

Russia removes Georgia checkpoint

Russia removes Georgia checkpoint

About 12 EU patrols began operating on Wednesday
Russian troops have removed a key checkpoint from Georgian territory near the breakaway province of South Ossetia, European Union observers say.

The checkpoint, near the town of Gori, a gateway to the separatist region, is the first taken down by the Russians under a withdrawal pledge.

Russia has agreed to pull out troops from two buffer zones within Georgia by 10 October, under EU observation.

Russia and Georgia fought a 10-day conflict over South Ossetia in August.

See a map of the region
Russia has kept troops in South Ossetia - and Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia - since ousting Georgian forces during the conflict.

Moscow has boosted security in South Ossetia in recent days following an explosion in the region which killed eight Russian soldiers and three civilians.

The chief of staff of what Russia calls its peacekeeping operation in the region was among those killed, Moscow said, accusing Georgian secret services of arranging the blast. Georgia denied the accusation. EU OBSERVERS IN GEORGIA
More than 200 unarmed observers from 22 EU nations
HQ in Tbilisi, with additional four field offices
Oversee Russia's pullout from "buffer zones" by 10 Oct
Deployed under a French-brokered peace deal
Mission's initial duration is 12 months

Some 200 EU observers from 22 nations are now on the ground overseeing the military's compliance, or otherwise, with pledges made by leaders at the Kremlin.

They reported the first signs of progress on Sunday morning at a checkpoint previously manned by 20-30 Russian soldiers.

"Our observers went to the checkpoint in Ali, north-west of Gori, and saw that it has been dismantled," and EU spokesman told the AFP news agency.

"This is the first dismantled checkpoint."

A regional police chief told Reuters the checkpoint was in the village of Nabakhtevi.


The Russian pull-back was agreed in the ceasefire deal brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

But Russia plans to keep nearly 8,000 troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it has recognised as independent states.

Western leaders have condemned both the buffer zones and Russia's recognition of the two regions.

The EU wants its observers to have access to the breakaway regions, but Russia has repeatedly refused to guarantee that.

The fighting in the region began on 7 August when Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes.

Russia launched a counter-attack and the Georgian troops were ejected from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia days later.

Suicide bomber strikes in Mosul

Suicide bomber strikes in Mosul

Eleven people have been killed during a American raid in the Iraqi city of Mosul in which a suicide bomber blew himself up, the US military says.

Three women and three children were among the dead at the private home, the US military said, adding that five "terrorists" had also died.

However, an official at a local morgue told the BBC most of the dead showed signs of bullet wounds.

Elsewhere in Mosul, four people were killed when gunmen attacked a funeral.

Three other people were wounded in the drive-by attack in the Zanjili district, the BBC's Hugh Sykes reports from Baghdad.

In September, three members of an Iraqi television crew and their driver were kidnapped and shot dead in the same neighbourhood.

'Last stronghold'

In a statement on the deadly explosion, US officials said troops had exchanged fire with armed men as they entered the building for what they described as an operation to capture a wanted man.

The morgue official dealing with the aftermath of the suicide bombing said one body bag contained fragments of human remains, consistent with the report that there was a suicide bomber at the house, our correspondent says.

US authorities confirmed that some of those who died could have been killed by gunshot wounds.

Following the blast soldiers later found weapons and explosives in the building, the statement said.

"This is just another tragic example of how al-Qaeda in Iraq hides behind innocent Iraqis," a spokesman said.

On Saturday US forces said they had killed a senior al-Qaeda bomb-maker and strategist in Baghdad.

Our correspondent says American forces have mounted many attacks this year against suspected al-Qaeda members in Mosul, which they describe as al-Qaeda's last stronghold.

India 'not a threat to Pakistan'

India 'not a threat to Pakistan'
By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad

Mr Zardari's remarks mark a radical break with the past
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says India has never been a threat to Pakistan, and that militants in Indian-administered Kashmir are terrorists.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he also seemed to acknowledge that his government has given consent to US air strikes in Pakistan.

The unorthodox views run counter to those held by Pakistan's military, which viewsIndia as a threat.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars but have made recent peace moves.

Deep suspicions

Pakistan's powerful military has long-defined India as an existential threat, and in the past it has given covert backing to the militants in Kashmir.

The two regional rivals did take part in a faltering peace process under the former president, General Pervez Musharraf.

But suspicions always ran deep, and relations have soured recently.

Mr Zardari's comments thus mark a radical break with the past.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Mr Zardari acknowledged that the US was firing missiles at militant targets inside Pakistan with his government's consent.

"We have an understanding, in the sense that we're going after an enemy together," it quotes him as saying.

But the Pakistani army is adamant that coalition forces do not have permission for such cross-border raids.

These incursions have stoked enormous anger in Pakistan - and Mr Zardari's comments may do the same.

Obama attacks McCain health plans

Obama attacks McCain health plans
John McCain and Barack Obama (composite image)
Mr McCain is preparing for Tuesday's debate while Mr Obama campaigns

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has attacked the healthcare plans of Republican rival John McCain at a rally in Virginia.

Speaking to some 18,000 people, Senator Obama described the Arizona senator's policy as "radical" and warned that millions of people could lose out.

A McCain spokesman rejected the claim, saying it was "a bald-faced lie".

Meanwhile, Mr McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin accused Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists".

Speaking in Colorado, she was referring to Mr Obama's association with a former 1960s radical.


Sarah Palin accuses Obama of associating with 'a domestic terrorist'

Mr McCain has left the campaign trail for Arizona, where he is preparing for Tuesday's second presidential debate.

Mr Obama's rally in Virginia came ahead of a Monday deadline for voters to register there and in more than a dozen other states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida.

The Obama campaign has signed up singers Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z to play at events in Philadelphia and Detroit, as well as Ohio State University.

Voter turnout could be key in deciding the outcome of the 4 November presidential election.

Healthcare claims

The Obama campaign launched its attack on Mr McCain's healthcare proposals with new adverts on TV and radio and leaflets sent to homes in every battleground state.

Mr McCain has proposed tax credits to help more people pay for health insurance, while Mr Obama wants to bring about universal coverage by providing subsidies to make it more affordable.

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin at the debate in Missouri
Record numbers watched Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in the VP debate

Speaking at the rally in Newport News, Virginia, Mr Obama said Mr McCain's promise of tax credits to help pay for health insurance would be paid for by taxing people's health benefits.

He warned that this would raise costs for employers, leading many to abandon their schemes.

He said: "Study after study has shown, that under the McCain plan, at least 20 million Americans will lose the insurance they rely on from their workplace."

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds rejected Mr Obama's claim as a lie.

"John McCain will improve the tax code so that middle-class pay cheques aren't used to pay government bureaucrats but instead will pay for the access to healthcare Americans deserve," Mr Bounds said.

Research suggests the tax credit Mr McCain proposes would be more generous than the current tax break, the Associated Press reports.

Opinion polls suggest healthcare is an important issue for voters.

Militant group

Mr McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Palin, was to campaign in California on Saturday.

Speaking to supporters in Colorado, she attacked Mr Obama over his link to Bill Ayers, a founder of the militant group Weather Underground, which took credit for a number of bombings in the US in the 1960s.

She described Mr Obama as someone who saw the US "as being so imperfect... he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country".

Mr Obama, who served on a charity board with Mr Ayers - now a professor at the University of Illinois - several years ago, has denounced his radical activities.

Commentators say Mrs Palin's attack forms part of a broader Republican strategy to attack Mr Obama's character.

The Alaska governor also repeated her wish that the McCain campaign had not this week pulled out of the battleground state of Michigan, effectively conceding it to Mr Obama.

Meanwhile, viewing figures show a record 69.9m people tuned in to watch Mrs Palin take part in Thursday's televised vice-presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

That number eclipsed the mark set in 1984, when 56.7m people watched Geraldine Ferraro, the only previous female US vice-presidential candidate, go head-to-head with George Bush Senior.

Man 'torches in-laws' in Austria

Man 'torches in-laws' in Austria

An Austrian man has been arrested on suspicion of burning his in-laws to death with a home-made flame-thrower.

Police said the 48-year-old used a propane gas container to torch the elderly couple as they lay in bed in the village of St Magdalena am Lemberg.

The bed-ridden woman, who had lost both her legs to diabetes, died where she lay but her husband was found in the garden having tried to escape.

Police said the suspect's wife was in the house but escaped through a window.

The suspect fled the scene but was found later having stabbed himself in the stomach, said police.

Chief investigator Anton Kiesl said the man was being kept in hospital in an induced coma. The suspect's motives were not immediately clear.

Kim Jong-il 'at football match'

Kim Jong-il 'at football match'

Kim Jong-il has not been seen in since mid-August

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il is reported to have made his first public appearance since rumours surfaced that he had suffered a stroke.

Mr Kim attended a student football match in Pyongyang, state media said.

The 66-year-old leader had not been seen since mid-August. US and South Korean officials said he had suffered a stroke and undergone brain surgery.

Mr Kim did not appear at a 9 September anniversary parade, but North Korean officials denied he was ill.

North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, reported that Mr Kim watched a football game to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of Kim Il-Sung University, named for his father, the founder of North Korea.

Kim Il-Sung University was reported to have beaten Pyongyang University of Railways 4-1.

The report did not say what day the game had taken place but the anniversary of Kim Il-Sung University is 1 October.

No-one has been named to succeed Mr Kim as leader.

His reported illness has come at a difficult time in international negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme.

North Korea agreed last year to give up its nuclear programme in return for aid and diplomatic concessions but the deal has floundered in recent months.

there is No banks bail-out fund for Europe

No banks bail-out fund for Europe

Nicolas Sarkozy: Each government will act in a co-ordinated manner

Europe's biggest economies have agreed to work together to support financial institutions - but without forming a joint bail-out fund.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted the meeting of the leaders of Britain, Germany and Italy in Paris.

They agreed to seek a relaxation of the EU rules governing the amount of money individual states could borrow.

Mr Sarkozy announced a series of other measures - including unspecified action against the executives of failed banks.

Speaking after the meeting at a joint news conference, he said the four had agreed that the leaders of a financial institution that had to be rescued should be "sanctioned".

Mr Sarkozy added: "Each government will operate with its own methods and means, but in a co-ordinated manner."

Gordon Brown: We're doing everything that we can

Leaders were reminded of just how serious the crisis is as talks to rescue Germany's second largest mortgage lender collapsed.

Hypo Real Estate said the 35bn euro (£27.8bn, $51.21bn) deal had fallen apart after the banking consortium involved pulled out. The lender said it would seek to stay in business through "alternative measures".

Meanwhile, Mr Sarkozy suggested EU budget rules - requiring eurozone states to keep their budget deficits below 3% and overall public debt below 60% of gross domestic product - would be adapted to deal with the current "exceptional circumstances".

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso agreed that the budget rules would be applied with "flexibility".

European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet and the chairman of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker also attended the summit.

The leaders issued a joint call for a G8 summit "as soon as possible" to review the rules governing financial markets.

Ireland reproach

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said governments would continue to take measures to ease the credit shortage.

It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF head

Send us your comments
"The message to families and to businesses is that, as our central banks are already doing, liquidity will be assured in order to preserve confidence and stability," he told reporters after the mini-summit.

He said European leaders should send the message that "no sound, solvent bank should be allowed to fail through lack of liquidity".

Mr Brown also won approval at the summit for his proposal for a £12bn EU fund to help keep small businesses afloat during the economic crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who said she was not happy with Ireland's action in guaranteeing bank deposits - said each country must act in "a balanced way" that did not cause harm to other EU member states.

"Each country must take its responsibilities at a national level," she said.

'Trial by fire'

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, had earlier urged the EU to take co-ordinated action, saying the financial crisis was presenting Europe with a "trial by fire".

Bank of Ireland building

No business rush to Irish banks
He held talks with Mr Sarkozy before the EU leaders' meeting and said that although the EU was a more complex organisation than the US, Europe needed to take "concerted collective action".

He said: "It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself."

He also said he would be scaling back his world economic growth forecasts.

Ahead of the meeting, Germany had made clear its opposition to any co-ordinated European bail-out plan. Mr Brown was also sceptical of the need for any Europe-wide plan.

The president of the European Parliament has criticised the summit, warning that the leaders of Europe's four largest economies have no power to decide for the entire European Union.

Calls for European action follow the bail-out of both Bradford and Bingley in the UK and Fortis Bank by the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.