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  Nation World  


 

Army buildings attacked by Pakistan militants

(AFP) - Suspected militants attacked army buildings near the US consulate in Pakistan’s northwestern capital Peshawar yesterday, police said.
Police said a number of armed fighters tried to get into a secure area close to the consulate and army buildings early in the morning and the exchanges of fire between the attackers and security forces were continuing.
“There target is not clear but they were trying to reach a very sensitive area. There is the US consulate and army offices and buildings in that area,” Karim Kha, a senior police official in Peshawar, said.
“The US consulate is completely safe,” he added.
Richard Snelsire, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Islamabad, said he had “no information right now” on whether the consulate was the intended target.
Police said the army had sealed off the site of the attack, preventing anyone from entering, while intermittent gunfire continued.
An AFP reporter at the scene said the army and police had blocked all the roads into the area while helicopters patrolled the skies.
Bashir Bilour, a provincial cabinet minister whose home is in front of the consulate, said: “The first round of firing continued for 30 minutes. I don’t know what’s going on but the army has sealed off the whole area and firing is still continuing”.
“Soldiers have also entered my Hujra (visitors compound). I cannot go outside,” he added.
Bombs and attacks blamed on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have hit soldiers, government officials and civilians across nuclear-armed Pakistan since government troops besieged a radical mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.
Such attacks have killed more than 3,574 people in the past three years, concentrated largely in the northwest and border areas with Afghanistan, where 141,000 US and NATO troops have been fighting the Taliban for nine years.
A roadside remote control bomb on Monday killed two anti-Taliban militia men in Mattni on the outskirts of Peshawar and wounded five others, police said.

 

Japan opens up death chamber to media

(AFP) - Japan has thrown open the doors to its mystery-shrouded execution chamber for the first time, as part of a crusade by the justice minister to stoke debate about the death penalty.
The move came a month after Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, an opponent of capital punishment, announced a review of the practice after she witnessed the first executions since her centre-left government took power almost a year ago.
At the minister’s urging, Japanese media were allowed on a 30-minute visit inside the glass-walled execution room in the Tokyo Detention House, where convicts, usually multiple murderers, are put to death by hanging.
A red square with a cross on the white floor marks the spot in the windowless room where convicts stand with the noose around their neck, before a trap-door opens below them and they plunge to their deaths.
The mechanism is triggered by one of three wall-mounted push buttons in an adjacent room, pressed simultaneously by three officers, although none of them is told which button is the live one that will cause the prisoner’s death.
In another room, a golden Buddha statue stands in an alcove for final prayers before the handcuffed convicts are blindfolded and led to their deaths, according to footage by public broadcaster NHK and other TV stations.
“This reporting opportunity will provide information for public debate on the death penalty system,” Chiba told a news conference on the media visit to one of several death chambers operated across the country.
Apart from the United States, Japan is the only major industrialised democracy to carry out capital punishment, a practice that has earned Tokyo repeat protests from European governments and human rights groups.
Japan has faced particular criticism for only informing death row prisoners of their impending execution at the last minute, and for only telling their families afterwards that their relative has been put to death.
Amnesty International last year labelled death row conditions in Japan “cruel, inhuman and degrading”, blaming the mental strain they cause for tipping many long-term convicts into insanity.
“Each day could be their last and the arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours,” the report said. “Some live like this year after year, sometimes for decades”.

 

Three killed, 40 injured in Iran quake

(AFP) - Three people, including two children, have been killed and 40 others injured in an earthquake which struck Iran’s biggest desert, Dasht-e Kavir, state television reported yesterday.
The 5.9 magnitude quake struck on Friday south of the northern city of Damghan.
In a separate report, the state television website quoted secretary general of Iran Red Crescent, Zaher Rostani, as saying that an elderly woman was also among those killed in the quake.
The website said six villages near Damghan were damaged in the quake which was about 278 kilometres (167 miles) east of Tehran.
The tremor, which struck at 11:53 pm (1923 GMT) on Friday, was also felt in the capital Tehran.
Iran sits astride several major fault lines in the Earth’s crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating.
The worst in recent times was a 6.3 magnitude quake which hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people, about a quarter of its population, and destroying the city’s ancient mud-built citadel.

 

Scores turn out to bury Philippine hostage-taker

(AFP) - Scores of friends and family turned out yesterday to bury the slain ex-policeman who this week hijacked a bus in Manila, leading to a crisis in which eight Hong Kong tourists died.
Even as the government tried to distance itself from the incident, over a hundred people gathered at Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza’s home, to remember him for his police honours and not for Monday’s tragic events.
“There are so many mourners because he was a good man. You never heard about him doing anything bad,” said warehouse worker Mark Torres, a family friend attending the wake in Tanauan, a small city south of Manila.
Francisco Misaba, a district watchman, said he had been assigned to manage the traffic because many people were expected to attend Mendoza’s funeral mass and burial later in the day.
“There will be plenty of people attending because he had a lot of friends. Just about everyone in the district was his friend,” he said.
Mendoza’s family has refused to grant press interviews. But at his wake, which is being held in Mendoza’s home, they put his numerous citations on display alongside many floral wreaths sent by fellow policemen.
Mendoza, a decorated police officer who had been sacked over extortion charges, took a bus-load of Hong Kong tourists hostage in Manila on Monday, demanding to be reinstated.
This led to a siege of the bus and muddled police negotiations that ended bloodily, with Mendoza and eight of the tourists shot dead.
The bungled rescue has enraged Hong Kong and embarrassed the Philippine government, which has called an investigation of the incident.
Further embarrassment came on Friday when the Chinese embassy condemned the draping of Mendoza’s coffin with a Philippine flag as if he was a hero.
The Philippine government said that the flag had been placed there by Mendoza’s family and that it had been later removed by a city official.
Torres said he could not explain Mendoza’s violent actions, adding that he had never heard of any misdeeds committed by the former policeman.
“I don’t think he went insane. He just believed what he was fighting for,” he told AFP.
“I can’t really say that he was justified, because people died. But we can’t say he was totally wrong, either.”
“We don’t understand why he did this. All we know is that he is now dead,” said Misaba.

 

Sluggish response to Pakistani flooding

By Peter Marshall
There can be little doubt that the view on the ground from aid agencies is that aid is getting to Pakistan far too slowly after flooding has left a third of the country under water, displacing 20 million people and killing around 1,600, according to Pakistani sources and others.

The floods have inundated Khaiber Pukhtoonkhawa and Southern Punjab, with the water then washing down the Indus River Valley, causing a deluge in Sindh, all caused by unprecedented monsoon rains in the northern areas of the country starting three weeks ago with even more rain expected.

As well as this, there is the obvious potential for epidemic levels of waterborne diseases, especially with such widespread devastation in such a hot climate, and then of course the problems that will arise from so much agricultural land being flooded and destroyed. Apparently many of the people hit are unfortunately some of the poorest in a country that has no shortage of poverty related problems.

Despite the US Government, pledging around $150 million and the European Union pledging somewhere in the region of 200 million Euros with more said to be in the pipeline (obviously with many other countries also pledging aid the world over) there have been reports in the press in both the US and certain EU member states that private donations by citizens have been somewhat slow in coming compared with other similar appeals in recent times, along with the wider assertion by workers on the ground that pledges already made are trickling in rather than flowing into the flood ravaged area.
Many have pondered the question of why Pakistan may be receiving less attention than the huge scale of the natural disaster would suggest it deserves, with a whole range of reasons being banded about.

A BBC article suggested that ‘Donor Fatigue’ may play a part after so much aid is perceived to have been given by the international community following other natural disasters like the Tsunami in 2004, the cyclone in Burma in 2008 and the recent Earthquake in Haiti.
A commonly held belief is that the international community only really has the ability in terms of logistics and forward planning, to satisfactorily handle one world-wide disaster of such a large magnitude once a year – if in deed true, this makes for an obvious problem as this natural disaster comes not long after relief efforts following the devastating affect of the Haitian Earthquake.

I recently wrote a piece regarding how the international public are affected when they read and watch so many news bulletins on so many cases of human suffering world-wide which may have the affect of making them far more desensitised – I believe ‘the more they see, the less it registers’ was the term I used.
In this case, the fact that it has built over weeks rather than one ‘shock value image’ for want of a better term, such as the widespread and visually striking destruction caused over a very short space of time in Haiti may mean that with less shock, comes less feeling of urgency to assist.

It has also been suggested in the US and British press (these are just two examples though many argue this is the case for many countries, particularly in the West) for example via articles in the media and responses to blog sites attached to popular news media providers, that the general public have the opinion that the Western world, often seen as the part of the world community that provides a large proportion of the aid for such natural disasters (and many would argue the part of the world that can most afford to), may be less likely to give due to its often negative opinion of Pakistan.
Many in the UK and America for example (highlighted by the British PM’s controversial comments made recently), though officially the country as an ally in the so titled ‘war against terror’, seem to feel that more should be done by the Pakistani Government to stop terrorism being exported from Pakistan to other parts of the world.

It is often quoted in the press as fact that Pakistan has one of the worst, if not the worst record when it comes to the number of terrorists living within its borders.
Many including the Afghan President Hamid Karzai have claimed that the Taliban’s base is in Pakistan and a recent leaked document from a British Ministry of Defence think-tank researcher criticised Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, for covertly abetting the Taliban, which was denied by Pakistan’s Government.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, on the eve of a visit to Britain recently, said his country was wrongly accused of failing its allies and of assisting the Taliban - a growing terrorist threat in nearby Afghanistan for which in recent days he has repeatedly blamed Afghanistan and its leader, Hamid Karzai.

He also complained of the West’s habit of badmouthing Islam. But, the President did say that it was unrealistic to suggest there were no terrorists or their sympathisers in Pakistan and on its borders but made the point that differentiating between these and ordinary moderate people was no easy task.

“It’s high time that the world understood that the Muslims are 1.5 billion people. They have their own concerns - their own culture - and they are vastly moderate. Don’t lump Muslims together and assume they are extremists,” he said.

The Pakistani Government, especially after Prime Minister Cameron’s comments, were quick to point out that a great many Pakistani’s have died fighting terrorist organisations and that they have truly been a genuine ally in the war against terror.
Regardless of which side you take, it is easy to see how some Western countries, especially ones that have suffered terrorist attacks such as the UK, Spain and obviously the US itself - amongst others - might react given this stereotype.

London is statistically now the most multi-cultural city in the world, and a place where generally speaking different races and cultures rub together perfectly well, without it would seem, widespread hatred or outbursts of violence on any side.
There are, however, huge swathes of land in Britain and other countries including the US (traditionally priding itself on its ‘melting pot’ society) where there are no Muslim people, or immigrants of any kind for that matter.

Many of the people living there may well, like we all do to an extent, make up their minds on world issues from watching the news.
Of course only bad news makes headlines, a fact that has sadly always been the case owing to human nature and so the vast majority of ‘moderate Muslims’ living in the UK do not appear on news bulletins. ‘Moderate Muslim family who get on with their neighbours as well as anyone else are working hard to pay mortgage and educate children’ is not a very interesting story whichever way you spin it. It is normally a story regarding an extremist, or terrorist sympathisers etc. that generates some kind of newsworthiness, regardless of whether they only represent a very small, if loud, minority of Muslim people. And so, when the word Muslim is constantly linked with terrorism and bad deeds in the media it is easy to see how such a negative stereotype can occur very quickly (even when no television controller or paper editor is purposely trying to mislead; and especially if they are – though this seems again to be a relatively tiny amount in relation to the whole).

The media by definition cannot show the world as it is and will always, to some extent, be misleading in its very nature as it has to edit somewhere and decide what it shows and what it doesn’t.

This also highlights how easily a country or religion can be tagged with a specific label, even un-intentionally.
But, regardless of whether there is any truth in this stereotype regarding Pakistan? And regardless of the answer, should it really bare any relevance to a situation were a huge number of very poor ‘civilians’ are facing the worst flooding in their nation’s history? Is this not punishing the people for what the Pakistani Government is doing, or is perceived to be doing by some people.
And then there will be those will point to the fact that the government in Pakistan is seen as being corrupt and that they do not think their money will actually get to the people who need it.

In reality, even if you take the charge of corruption as being true (most Pakistani’s certainly would if asked anonymously – I’d wager by back teeth on that) the fact is that today many large charity groups such as Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross etc. distribute goods and instigate programmes largely through their own staff and do not – as happened in the past – simply hand over cheques to governments and hope for the best.

Also, the Haiti Government hardly had a peachy record when it comes to corruption in politics, but that didn’t stop people pledging to help the quake victims.
Another sticking point will be the fact that Pakistan can apparently afford to fund a nuclear programme and a large military budget but then expects aid when its own people are in need of emergency help.

Of course when you and your neighbour are well known enemies with the threat of war constantly simmering away it seems, and they have nuclear weapons pointed at you, it is only natural the government would be tempted to have their own means of nuclear reprisal should things end up turning so bad (in which case you can wave goodbye to any aid effort so far, as a nuclear war between the two would make the worst flooding in the country’s history look like a leaking tap in comparison).

Still, most, I think, would still have a problem with the notion of seeming to priorities a military budget over putting aside funds to aid the people (yes this was an unprecedented natural disaster, though there is still perennial poverty in Pakistan and a lot of it – a country that has received huge amounts of international aid that as mentioned earlier has not always found its way to the people it was intended for in the past).

Murky waters in international politics once again, who’d have thought such a thing could still happen in 2010? Though should this make a jot of difference when it comes to people who in the vast majority of cases are more than likely just ordinary men, women and children who now find themselves literally living in a sunken (and most likely soon to be disease ridden) world through no fault of their own?

Some would say that if you disagree with politics of a country’s government, there are channels to address this (e.g. diplomacy, UN sanctions if deemed necessary, trade embargoes etc.) and that taking it out on the ordinary population, even indirectly by not sending contributions a person would normally do to other regions is not one of them; I’m no great fan of recent, or past US Government foreign policies for that matter, but does that mean I have any less sympathy for the poor souls and their families involved in the World Trade Centre Attacks in New York? Do I hold them accountable for what their President says and does?

Of course, this may well play back into the donour apathy effect in that after donating, perhaps very generously to say the Haiti earthquake recently, a person in whatever country, is essentially looking for an excuse not to have to dig deep in their pocket again (understandable) – and a handy excuse can come in the form of a negative stereotype of that nation. This may sound cruel but human nature being what it is the world over, this wouldn’t surprise me as being at least a contributing factor.
In reality the problems of aid getting to the flood victims too slowly is likely to be caused by all of theses factors in some part.

Once again we see how the media can (sometimes deliberately, sometimes unintentionally) help stamp a country with a particular label (and of course the country’s government can also play a large part in this by the way they behave) and that humans as we see all the time, love to pigeon hole entire groups of people, whole nations or religions at times. Perhaps a pertinent reminder to the press of the power and responsibility it has?

Personally, I think the needed funds will be raised and will reach the areas needed eventually. But of course for the people who need it most to alleviate unthinkable suffering now (they will worry about the future problems when they are out of their current ones) the matter of the time they have to wait between now and then is very nearly as important as whether the help is coming at all.
And once again it will not be the people who certain nations and their citizenry have a grudge with - those, who say choose to start and continue to fund a nuclear programme, or assist terrorism (or not, depending on your point of view) that are affected, but the civilian in the street who like civilians in countries the world over are just trying to get by, to raise a family – it is the man woman and child in the street who will take both the brunt of the storm, and the resultant fallout as well.
People should remember this at least, when making the decision about whether to do their bit or not.

 

Deciphering the ‘Hermit’

By Thanapathi
North Korea is called the hermit kingdom for good reason.
Since the end of the Cold War, the country has been the most reclusive nation on Earth, rarely allowing outsiders in and even more tightly ensuring that no one gets out.

For all its secrecy however, the Democratic People’ Republic of Korea, as it is officially known is constantly making the news, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Rescue mission
Last week, there was another high level visit to North Korea.
Former US president Jimmy Carter reportedly undertook a rescue mission that carries what analysts see as tremendous diplomatic significance amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The reason for Carter to fly to Pyongyang was to pick up a 30-year-old American whom North Korean soldiers seized after he crossed the border into North Korea from China last February.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was teaching English in South Korea before deciding to go to North Korea, attempted to commit suicide, according to a North Korean report, after a court in April sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Two American doctors, accompanied by consular officials, saw him earlier this month, and US officials have been pressing hard for a way to have him released.

The rescue mission was similar to when former president, Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang in early August of last year aboard a private jet.
Clinton, after spending three hours dining with Kim Jong-il returned with two American women who had been picked up by North Korean soldiers on the Tumen River border with China while filming a documentary for former vice-president Al Gore’s Internet TV network.
The Clinton visit was hoped to be more than just a humanitarian mission due to his access to the Obama administration.

His wife being the country’s top diplomat analysts were abuzz that the visit will give an opportunity for America to engage the North at a higher level since the break down of six party talks that were meant to disband the country’s ambitious nuclear programme.
Although the Obama administration has made clear that the forays by ex-presidents have no official approval, they are seen as a useful and high-profile channel of communication with the unpredictable regime that defiantly developed nuclear weapons and routinely threatens to wage war against the US.

Growing tensions
Tensions have simmered since the Clinton visit when allegedly the North sank a South Korean naval vessel in March this year.
The sinking of a naval vessel on March 26, 2010 that killed dozens of sailors was the worst incident since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953.
The 1,200-tonne Cheonan was on a routine patrol mission in the waters near the Koreas’ maritime border when an explosion ripped the sturdy frigate in two. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued; 46 others perished.

A subsequent investigation carried out by a team of international experts concluded the vessel was struck by a North Korean torpedo most likely fired by one of its submarines.
The North has denied the accusation but the claims and counter claims have heightened tensions in the trouble peninsula to levels that were not seen since the end of the Cold War.

Back to talking
President Jimmy Carter’s visit is hoped to ease some of simmering tensions and recent sabre rattling by the North Koreans and if possible bring them back to the negotiating table to discuss the country’s nuclear disarmament. In the past, the North has been hard bargainers.
At the height of a famine in the late 1990s the North started its nuclear programme which was used as leverage for aid from its own enemies who went to extraordinary lengths to stall the development of a nuclear weapon.
Food and other economic aid was promised and delivered in return for the North’s assurance that it will stop nuclear material enrichment.
The deal was to give North Korea the technology for civilian nuclear reactors for energy purposes with monitoring while ensuring non of the by products of electricity generation was used to build a nuclear bomb.

However, after years of talking the negotiations ended when the North announced that it had developed a nuclear weapon. Despite routine provocations and occasions threats of declaring war by the North the US and its allies have been continuously trying to engage the Hermit Kingdom through diplomacy.
The Carter visit not expected to be groundbreaking or bring the North back to the negotiation table but it is at least hoped would ease some of the tensions that are now at its peak.

Tricky succession
Compounding the North’s current predicament is the uncertainty that looms over the succession of its ailing leader Kim Jong Il.
The current leader like his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, is the object of an all-pervasive personality cult.
Unlike his father, however, he has not clearly designated a chosen successor.
There is great speculation among North Korea watches that Kim Jung-Un, the youngest son of the current leader will be his successor.
Very little is known about the younger Kim. He’s reported to be in his late twenties and apparently had studied abroad in Switzerland.
Analysts believe that the recent escalation of tensions in the peninsula is linked to the succession of the leadership.

North Korea expert Victor D Cha Cha in a recent article has drawn similarities between the current happenings and the 1980’s when Kim Jong Il was being groomed to succeed his father. “When Kim Jong-Il was appointed successor to his father Kim Il-Sung, a similar sort of legitimisation process took place in which Kim Jong-Il was responsible for many of the actions in the 1980s -- such as the Korean Air 858 explosion in 1987, when North Korean agents planted a bomb in the plane which had taken off from Baghdad. The agents got off in Abu Dhabi, and the plane exploded over the Sea of Andaman, killing all 115 aboard. And in 1983, North Korean terrorists killed about half of the South Korean cabinet while it was on a state visit to Burma,” explains Cha adding that the recent sinking of the South Korean naval vessel and the resulting tensions between the two Koreas could most likely be the “coming out ceremony” for Kim Jung-Un.
If he’s going to be anything like his father or his grandfather, the Hermit Kingdom would most likely remain the most elusive place on earth.

News in brief

Congo butchery ‘resembled genocide’
(AFP) - Hutus in the Democratic Republic of Congo were butchered in a pattern of targeted, widespread and systematic attacks that resembled the Rwandan genocide, the head of a new UN probe said.

Luc Cote, a war crimes prosecutor from Montreal, told AFP that Rwandan Tutsi troops and their rebel allies targeted, chased, hacked, shot and burned Hutus in the DRC, from 1996 to 1997, after the outbreak of a cross-border Central African war.

“For me it was amazing,” said Cote, who also investigated the 1994 Rwandan genocide and ran the legal office of the UN International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda from 1995 until 1999.
“I saw a pattern in the Congo that I’d seen in Rwanda,” Cote said, referring to the Rwandan genocide where Hutu extremists butchered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Taliban ‘raid NATO base’ in Afghanistan
(AFP) - A NATO base in volatile eastern Afghanistan came under attack early today from possible Taliban militants, police in the region said.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was unable to confirm reports that a US-run base in Khost province had come under attack but said it was investigating the reports.
“From what I understand it is still ongoing, we are getting details,” a spokeswoman said.
Local police chief Adbul Hakim Is’haqzai said Taliban militants had first attacked Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno before retreating to occupy a secondary school in Khost city, the provincial capital.
The school was near a smaller US-run base, FOB Chapman, he said.

Kim Jong Il meets Chinese president
(CNN) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il may have met Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday, South Korea’s official news agency reported.
An unnamed South Korean official said government intelligence indicated that Kim and Hu met in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Reports from multiple news sources indicated that Jintao arrived in China on Thursday, though neither China nor North Korea have confirmed the trip.
Kim’s visit coincided with former President Jimmy Carter’s trip to North Korea, during which Carter secured the release of a US citizen who had been sentenced to eight years of hard labour for crossing over the Chinese border into North Korea.
That man, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, arrived home on Friday afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts with Carter.

India refused visas to Chinese military officials
(Times of India) India summoned the Chinese ambassador and has refused to allow visits of two Chinese military officials to protest against Beijing’s refusal of a visa to a general in the Indian Army.
The discussion came after India, as reported by TOI on Friday, cancelled defence exchanges to protest against China refusing to allow the visit of an Indian Army general on the ground that his jurisdiction included “disputed” J&K. In a tit-for-tat response, India refused to allow the visits of two captain-level Chinese officers to Pachmarhi, and one colonel-level officer to National Defence College.

India was also cold to China’s fence-mending bid by offering to send a colonel-level official to New Delhi for talks with joint secretary (international cooperation) in the defence ministry. With passions running high, there was no certainty that the government would allow the visit scheduled for September 7.

Chilean miners told they may be trapped until Christmas

The 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped underground for three weeks have been told that they may not be rescued until the end of the year.
Health Minister Jaime Mañalich said the men – who had not previously been told how long the operation could take – had accepted the news calmly during talks with the Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera.
“During a conversation with the president, we were pretty much able to tell them and they’ve accepted that they’re not going to be rescued before Fiestas Patrias (Chile’s independence day celebrations on September 18),” said Mañalich.
“(But) we hope to be with them – and their families hope to be with them – before Christmas.”
The minister added: “I think that we’ve been able to talk with them very frankly and they’ve accepted it and they’re calm and they want to work well with us.”
Mañalich said the men were still in good shape and revealed that rescue workers had managed to finish a second narrow borehole which would be dedicated to channelling drinking water to the miners and keeping communications flowing.
Rescuers are sending clothes, medicine and games down the 700-metre borehole, which has the diameter of a grapefruit, to help keep the men physically and mentally fit.
The government has asked Nasa and Chile’s submarine fleet for tips on survival in extreme, confined conditions, and are intending to send them rations similar to those used on space missions.
Mañalich said the miners would also be given antidepressants.
“We expect that after the initial euphoria of being found, we will likely see a period of depression and anguish,” he said. (Guardian)

100 years of Teresa – A city remembers its saint

As Mother Teresa’s birth centenary celebrations commenced in India, Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Missionaries of Charity, joining “spiritually” in the celebrations and giving the order and the people they serve his blessings.
In a letter to Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity Sister Prema, Pope Benedict said: “This year will be for the church and the world an occasion of joyful gratitude to God for the inestimable gift that Mother Teresa was in her lifetime.”
Continue to inspire
Pope Benedict said Mother Teresa exemplified the words of Saint John: “Beloved, if God so loves us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
Expressing the hope that this love would continue to inspire the Missionaries of Charity in their work, the Pope said: “I encourage you to draw constantly from the spirituality and example of Mother Teresa.”
The letter was read out at a special mass held at Mother House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, by Archbishop of Calcutta Rev Lucas Sirkar.
“Today people from all nations, castes, creeds and walks of life celebrate God’s love and light, which radiated on our cold and darkened world through Mother Teresa,” Sister Prema said. A stream of visitors came in to pay homage to Mother Teresa at Mother House all through the day.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated ‘Mother Express,’ an exhibition train with photographs depicting the life and philanthropic deeds of Mother Teresa, at the Sealdah Station.
At the inauguration, Sister Prema spoke about the close association Mother Teresa had with the Railways. It was on a train she took from the same station to Darjeeling when Mother Teresa received what she herself described as “the call within a call” — the moment when she received a message from God to leave the convent were she was a nun and begin her work in the slums of Kolkata.
When several other centres of the Missionaries of Charity came up in other cities, she would often travel to them, but always in third class and without reservation.
“Mother liked to travel like the poor and among the poor,” Sister Prema said.
Ms Banerjee said she had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, urging them to ensure that the Government of India observed the centenary year in a befitting manner. A Mother Teresa International Film Festival 2010 was also inaugurated. (The Hindu)