- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Scotsman

Dogs better than gyms

The average pet owner covers more miles than health club members, according to a new study. Researchers found the average dog owner walks the equivalent of London to Bangkok over the animal’s lifetime — around 676 miles a year. But the study revealed that gym goers clocked up an average of just 468 miles a year on various exercise bikes, running machines and other gadgets.

The study also found that 92 percent of dog owners stick to an exercise routine through the years, compared to only 52 percent of gym members who continue to go often after two or three months.

Psychologist David Lewis was involved in the study of 1,500 dog owners and health club members. He compared middle-aged people in both categories and measured their heart and stress levels before and after a series of exercises to monitor their fitness levels.

Both groups were asked to do eight minutes on a stepping machine and then tested 60 seconds after the end of the exercise. The heart rate of dog walkers had returned to the normal resting rate, but the heart rate of gym members was still 29 beats a minute above the normal level.

This is because dog walking is a heart-strengthening aerobic exercise, while the average routines of gym members included around 48 percent of aerobic exercise. Higher than average stress levels affected 52 percent of gym members, but only 35 percent of dog walkers.

Morning Herald

Post-tsunami changes

SYDNEY, Australia — Two years after the Asian tsunami disaster, the political legacies in two of the worst-hit countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, could hardly be more different. In Indonesia’s Aceh province, the waters swept away obstacles to a settlement of a 30-year-long separatist war. Its huge nonlocal military garrison was withdrawn, provincial autonomy was made institutional, and elections for an autonomous government have just been held, returning a former rebel commander as governor. …

In Sri Lanka, where the tsunami devastated coastal villages and killed 35,000 people, togetherness between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamils of the north and east was short-lived. Aid distribution became corrupted throughout the Sinhalese regions of the center and southwest, while the separatist Tamil Tigers insisted on tight control of aid coming into their territory. This year a cease-fire agreed with government forces in 2002 has frayed to shreds of paper, only notionally obeyed to keep foreign aid flowing.

Violations by both sides have killed more than 2,500 people since January and displaced about 200,000 from their homes. This fertile, picturesque country, well located to take advantage of the Asiawide industrial revolution, is sliding back into a vicious war that will further impoverish many of its 20 million people.

Daily Nation

Violence in Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya — All-out war is about to erupt in the Horn of Africa following Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia early this week. Thousands of people are reported to have fled their homes to escape the fighting,

The Council of Islamic Courts, which emerged in June to capture huge swathes of southern Somalia, are an assemblage of former warlords led by Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys — a radical on both U.N. and U.S. terrorism lists. But support for the Council of Islamic Courts is not in short supply, which is why a majority of Somali youths have joined it.

While it would be silly to reduce the conflict to a mere contest between the “Islamist” Somalia and “Christian” Ethiopia, this religious appendage is appealing to both sides. What the world is witnessing is a resurrection of old tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, now fanned by proxies.

… But the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia places the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the African Union and the United Nations in a precarious position as the Somali crisis threatens to escalate into a regional conflict.

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