Senator's in his element as I-Ching divines victory

It is the ancient Chinese equivalent of the Gallup poll - but instead of surveying voters, an I Ching expert is consulting the gods and the elements to predict whether Senator John Kerry or President George W. Bush will win Tuesday's US presidential election.

The Hong Kong Chow-Yi Forecast Learning Centre took out an English-language newspaper advertisement last week, predicting that Senator Kerry would win.

But it also warned there would be another vote dispute, and Mr Bush was likely to be taken to hospital after the election.

Centre chairwoman Cheung Kai-kai claimed it had predicted the outcomes of this month's Australian election and the Taiwanese election in May.

She said the centre had no political or ideological preference and the election forecast was purely for academic interest.

'You cannot let your personal wishes and preferences affect your predictions and calculations. You have to stay neutral,' Ms Cheung said.

Obscure calculations in ancient I Ching equations and cryptic statements made the prediction difficult to decipher for ordinary people.

'Bush holds source of power but it is not strong at the time of forecast,' the advert said.

'The fifth [element] holds source of power which could assist Bush but is at present empty and is restricted by its own derivative.

'The election environment favours Bush but in an unpleasant manner ... Bush carries an old hook which can hook away his chance of re-election. Also in the four months after December, Bush may be hospitalised.

'All in all Bush will lose the election.'