Chicken gene unraveled
Scientists say they have unravelled the genetic code of the chicken. The secrets of the chicken genome could lead to super-hens -- new breeds which will lay more eggs, have more meat and be more resistant to disease. And there could be health benefits too, by helping the fight against bird flu, they hope. An international consortium took a DNA sample from the red jungle fowl (Latin name Gallus gallus), which is believed to be the wild ancestor of domestic chickens, and decrypted its code.
Offiicals deny peace deal
Israeli officials yesterday downplayed Egyptian reports that Israel and the Palestinians have reached agreement in principle on proposals aimed at ending their conflict. "There are no new developments regarding a ceasefire with the Palestinians," Israel Army Radio quoted officials in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office as saying. "Israel will respond to calm with calm, but we will react to any attempt to carry out attacks," the officials said. According to the Egyptian report Tuesday night by the MENA news agency, the agreement was based on "a number of tangible ideas" put forward by Egypt "which would be the basis for a comprehensive political effort to reach a final peace agreement."
■ United Kingdom
Program to be changed
The British government will announce today a fundamental review of its climate change program in an implicit admission that it is not cutting carbon emissions as fast as it had originally hoped. The issue is important to the prime minister, Tony Blair, who has made leadership on the international stage on climate change an important part of his G8 presidency next year. Blair's credentials as a green have come under attack from groups such as Greenpeace, which claim he has been making strong speeches over green issues, but failing to take the action required.
Chemical supplier arrested
A businessman wanted by the US for allegedly shipping thousands of tonnes of chemicals to Saddam Hussein has been detained by police in Holland and accused of complicity in the poison gas attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s. Frans van Anraat, 62, who has been sought by the Americans for a decade, was arrested in Amsterdam on Monday, officials said Tuesday and is due to appear in court in Arnhem tomorrow. A statement issued by the Dutch public prosecution service said: "According to the United Nations, the Dutchman is one of the most important middlemen in Iraq's acquisition of chemical material."
■ United States
Judge rejects gay marriage
A judge in Albany, New York, rejected the claims by 13 gay and lesbian couples that they have the right to marry under the state's Constitution. It was the second ruling in two months against plaintiffs in six separate civil suits seeking state recognition of same-sex marriage. In Tuesday's ruling, Justice Joseph Teresi ruled that the 13 couples had not been denied their rights to equal protection under the laws, due process or freedom of speech by being thwarted in their attempts to marry.