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News Briefs

Iranian Twins Die After Separation Surgery


Ladan and Laleh Bijani, the 29-year-old Iranian twins who were born joined at the head, died of blood loss Tuesday afternoon within 90 minutes of one another, doctors said, as a team of surgeons worked to separate their two brains.

“When we undertook this challenge, we knew the risks were great,” said Dr. Loo Choon-yong, chairman of Raffles Hospital in Singapore, where the 50-hour operation took place.

The operation was the first known attempt to separate adult twins joined at the head. Similar separations have been performed successfully for decades on infants and, in 2001, doctors in Singapore succeeded in separating two infant Nepalese twins.

News of the twins’ deaths brought tears to the many well-wishers who had gathered for a prayer vigil outside the hospital since the operation began on Sunday.

Complicating the sisters’ case was that their brains had grown closely intertwined over the years and shared a major vein. In 1996, German doctors had turned down their request for an operation, saying the shared vein made surgery too dangerous.

Seven U.S. Troops Injured; Bremer Fleshes Out Plan For Council


As U.S. forces faced a series of new attacks Tuesday, civil administrator L. Paul Bremer fleshed out plans for the “governing council” that he expects to be in place within several weeks, putting Iraq on an incremental path toward self-rule.

Bremer said he had received word from several main political groups that they have agreed to participate in the council, which is to be constituted in coming weeks in place of the more powerful provisional government originally proposed by his predecessor, Jay Garner. Bremer said the council will be charged with nominating interim ministers, examining long-term national issues, and helping to write an Iraqi constitution.

Meanwhile, US soldiers came under further attacks, leaving seven American troops wounded. US officials announced that they would pay rewards of up to $2,500 for information leading to the capture of anyone who killed a coalition soldier or Iraqi police officer.

British Columbia Approves Same-Sex Marriage


British Columbia Tuesday joined Ontario in legalizing same-sex marriage, with the Court of Appeal in Canada’s westernmost province ruling that gays and lesbians have an immediate right to tie the wedding knot.

The three-judge panel ordered the “reformulation of the common law definition” of marriage to declare it a union of any two individuals, regardless of gender. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, bowing to pressure from the liberal-leaning top courts, last month pledged to make gay and lesbian marriage the law of the land.

The British Columbia decision comes as religious conservatives in Canada, far less cohesive than in the United States, launched a battle to preserve the 137-year-old legal definition of marriage in the country as the“union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.”

Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe, president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, told an Ottawa news conference: “We intend to defend marriage as it has existed for millenia. Marriage cannot be allowed to slip quietly away.”