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Since 1st March, 1999
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Girl for Sophie

London, Nov 9 (Reuters): The youngest son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Edward, Earl of Wessex, has become a father for the first time, with his wife Sophie giving birth to a baby girl by emergency caesarean section.

The baby was born shortly before midnight yesterday — several weeks before it was due, said a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace.

The Earl was not present at the birth but was now flying home from an official trip to Mauritius. The spokeswoman said Edward was due to arrive in London sometime today and would go straight to visit his wife and daughter.

Afghan title

Manila (AP): Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai, condemned in her homeland for parading in a bikini at the Miss Earth contest, won the pageant’s first “beauty for a cause” award today. The 23-year-old Samadzai, the first Afghan in three decades to take part in a beauty contest, failed to make it to the contest’s semifinals. But she was cited for “symbolising the newfound confidence, courage and spirit of today’s women” and for “representing the victory of women’s rights and various social, personal and religious struggles”. Samadzai could face prosecution if she returns to her native country because of her attire at the Manila pageant, a senior Afghan justice official said yesterday.

Mail menace

London (Reuters): Misuse of e-mails and the Internet in the workplace has become a big headache for British employers, and UK companies are increasingly disciplining staff for accessing racy websites or sending porn to colleagues. Nearly one in three British companies have disciplined staff for breaking company Internet and e-mail rules in the past year. Several companies have begun drafting codes of conduct in an effort to regulate employees’ use of high-speed Net connections. One e-mail filtering specialist, Clearswift Ltd of Reading, has introduced Image Manager, a software product that scans outgoing e-mails for flesh-coloured images, thus stopping suspected pornographic images from entering or leaving the corporate network.

Fertility suit

Denver (AP): A blind woman is accusing a fertility clinic in Colorado of discrimination, charging in a lawsuit that the clinic would not help her become a mother because of her disability. The case is unique and a possible violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said fertility law expert Mark Rothstein. “A doctor cannot refuse to do a procedure because a woman is blind or place new conditions on continuing treatments,” said Rothstein, a professor at the University of Louisville Institute of bioethics, health and law.

her lawsuit, Kijuana Chambers said the clinic performed three rounds of artificial insemination in 1999, then stopped when she refused to hire an occupational therapist to evaluate the safety of her home.

Equal rights

Kabul (Reuters): Afghan women called on Sunday for a greater say in politics, an end to forced marriages and fair and equal conditions in the workplace, all to be enshrined in the country’s new constitution. Members of the Gender and Law Working Group that looks into women’s rights in Afghanistan have drawn up a list of proposals for next month’s constitutional Loya Jirga, or traditional grand assembly, to debate. Additions to the existing draft include recognising women’s “considerable role” in Afghan society, safeguarding women’s property rights, and prohibiting cultures and customs “against the dignity, welfare or interest of women”.

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