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2 DAY IN MINUTES: home and abroad.

Abbas peace talks call

PALESTINIAN president Mahmoud Abbas has proposed closed-door talks with Israel on some of the Middle East's most difficult disputes, including the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. "It is the right time to talk," Mr Abbas said in Cairo after he met Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Recent weeks have seen a growing momentum towards reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert met Mr Abbas on Saturday. The bipartisan panel on Iraq headed by former US secretary of state James Baker said progress on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute could help ease tensions in Iraq.

Flooding kills 122

FLOODING in remote north-western Indonesia has swept away thousands of houses and killed at least 122 people, officials said yesterday, as neighbouring Malaysia braced for more torrential rain and wind. Indonesian authorities deployed boats and helicopters to shift aid to survivors of flash floods and landslides that displaced more than 400,000. The Aceh disaster relief task force said more than 13,000 homes across six districts had been severely damaged or washed away entirely, 1,755 of them in Aceh Tamiang.

Downloads for charts

DOWNLOADED album tracks and "golden oldies" will be eligible for the charts under new rules coming into force next week. Until now, downloads have been included in the Official Singles Chart only if physical copies of the song are available in shops. But from January 1 the rules will be altered so that all download sales can be counted. It means any song available on the internet could become the next number one. Old songs could find themselves heading back up the charts.

Ford against Iraq war

FORMER US president Gerald Ford was highly critical of the Bush administration, saying the Iraq war was unjustified, in a twoyear- old interview published only yesterday. In the embargoed interview with the Washington Post's famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward in July 2004, Mr Ford "very strongly" disagreed with George Bush's justifications for invading Iraq. Mr Ford, 93, died this week.

Hajj pilgrimage starts

NEARLY three million Muslims from around the world, chanting "I am here, Lord" and raising their hands to heaven, marched through a desert valley to Mina outside Mecca in Saudi Arabia yesterday on the first day of the annual Hajj pilgr image.

Gervais film bonanza

RICKY Gervais has beaten Rocky to the top of the US box office. Night At The Museum, the comedy in which Gervais costars with Ben Stiller, took 42 million dollars (pounds 21m) over the four-day Christmas holiday. Gervais plays the director of a museum in which the exhibits come to life. The role is set to make him a major big screen star in the US where he is already known to TV audiences thanks to The Office.

Exercise 'cuts risk'

WOMEN who exercise can substantially cut their risk of developing breast cancer, according to new research. Moderate housework had the biggest obvious effect on cutting a woman's risk, the study part-funded by the charity Cancer Research UK found.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 29, 2006
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