Lama's earthly plea

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The Independent Online
To celebrate the 60th birthday of the Dalai Lama (in his current incarnation), Buddhists monks from Cambodia, Japan, Mongolia and Sri Lanka performed the mandala, a religious ceremony offering him all the best the universe has to offer.

But what the Tibetan religious leader really wanted for his birthday, he said, was the world's help in stopping China from destroying Tibet's ancient Buddhist culture. "I appeal. Please help us!" he pleaded in New Delhi.

The monk, dressed in his usual red robe, said he would like to arrive at a "mutually agreeable solution" with the Chinese, but little progress had been made. "The continued Chinese occupation of Tibet poses an increasing threat to the very existence of a distinct Tibetan national and cultural identity," he said. "This is not a struggle to preserve old institutions. It is a struggle for national survival.''

As delegates to three days of seminars on Buddhist topics baked in the Indian summer, the Dalai Lama thanked them for travelling to see him. "If I had known my 60th birthday would be celebrated in New Delhi, I would have chosen not to have been born in the summer," he said, no doubt thinking of the cool climate of Taktser, his home village in north-east Tibet.

Germany's president, Roman Herzog, 61, won't be running for a second five-year term. A family history of dying from strokes, he told Stern magazine, has conviced him to quit while he is ahead.

"The basis for this decision is not going to change," he said. "For centuries people have realised that temperament and creativity decline after one's mid-sixties. But in my case there's something else, which my wife doesn't like to hear. People in my family die of strokes, and usually it happens ... between 65 and 70. Of course it's not an absolute certainty but I have to reckon with it."

While ''Carlos the Jackal'' awaits trial in a Paris prison, his German- born wife, Magdalena Kopp, is reportedly living in luxury in Venezuela. The German magazine Focus says it has tracked down the former Red Army Faction member to the city of Valencia. There, as Lena Ramirez, she lives with her daughter Rosa, 9, under the protection of the influential family of Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez.

The Ramirez family has forbidden her from giving interviews about her husband's life and activities, the magazine said, adding that despite numerous charges of murder against the international terrorist, Carlos is still a popular figure in the Valencia region. Ms Kopp keeps in regular contact with him and is said to have no intention of returning to Germany.

MARYANN BIRD

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