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Aquino to seek money and jobs at US talks

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino flies to the US tomorrow seeking money and jobs for his country in the wake of a bloody hostage fiasco that has tainted his leadership.
Aquino hopes to hold talks with US President Barack Obama and is scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly during a six-day trip which he sees as a chance to bolster the global appeal of the struggling southeast Asian nation.
His government, in power for just 80 days, was put in the harsh glare of live global television last month after a bungled police rescue that left eight Hong Kong tourists and a hostage-taker dead.

“This incident will not define this administration,” Aquino said as he received the findings of an official inquiry into the fiasco that called for sanctions against a dozen named people.
Most of his week-long trip will be devoted to meeting businessmen to persuade more of them to plough their money into the Philippines and create jobs, he said.

“We are not talking a hundred, two hundred jobs. We are not even talking a thousand. We are talking more than that,” he said.
One in three Filipinos are considered poor, and the government said earlier this month that it is now in serious trouble of missing key “millennium development goals” set in a UN summit in 2000, including halving poverty.
Chief aide Paquito Ochoa said Aquino was mindful of the need to avoid extravagances on his visit to the United States.
The president will take a regular flight to San Francisco either late today or tomorrow Manila time, then use a chartered flight to New York, where he will avoid fancy hotels and stick to modest restaurants.

“We are conscious of the fact that we are in a debt hole. We can only begin to climb out of if we strictly implement austerity measures and cut down on unnecessary spending,” Executive Secretary Ochoa said.
Elected to office by a resounding landslide and enjoying among the highest trust ratings ever for any Philippine leader, Aquino seemed as though he could do no wrong when sworn in on June 30.
The son of the late democracy icon Corazon Aquino had pledged a fresh start and a clean government, saying the corruption that eats up a fifth of the national budget alone is the main cause of widespread poverty.

However, the tone of his US visit would be different from that of his late mother, who was treated as a heroine for ending the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, when she addressed a joint session of the US Congress in 1987.
Research analyst Erwin Balita of Manila-based SB Equities told AFP the hostage fiasco has not so far impacted on the decision-making of investors in the Philippines, with share prices rising to record highs last week.

“They (new governments) are allowed a certain grace period to make the transformation, so investors are allowing that window to reform the system,” Balita said.
“He said he will clean up the bureaucracy, remove corruption. That is one good selling point if he convinces the US government and businessmen. More aid, trade and grants could come to the country because of that,” Balita added.

The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in over 20 years in the first half of the year, with a 7.9 percent expansion, while the jobless rate eased to 6.9 percent and inflation stayed low.
However, a million Filipinos leave the country every year to try and find work abroad, and the government is struggling to shore up finances hurt by graft and meagre tax collections.

Child mortality falling, but not fast enough: UNICEF

NEW YORK (AFP) - The number of children who die before reaching their fifth birthday has fallen by a third in the past two decades, but there are still more than eight million deaths each year, UNICEF said.
And the deaths are increasingly concentrated in India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China.

According to latest estimates by a UN Children’s Fund offshoot, the number of under-five deaths decreased from 12.4 million per year in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. The global under-five mortality rate has dropped in that time from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births to 60.
UNCEF said this means that 12,000 fewer children are dying each day around the world compared to 1990.
But it added that “the tragedy of preventable child deaths continues. Some 22,000 children under five still die each day, with some 70 percent of these deaths occurring in the first year of the child’s life.”

The highest child mortality rates are in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in eight children dies before their fifth birthday -- nearly 20 times the average for developed regions (1 in 167). Southern Asia has the second highest rate, with about one in 14 children dying before reaching five.

But about half of the early child deaths around the world are now in India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China.
And the speed of the decrease will not be fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goal of cutting under five deaths by 2015, UNICEF said. Child mortality will be one of the key goals discussed at a major UN summit in New York next week.


Karachi on alert after top
politician killed in London

KARACHI (AFP) - A Pakistani politician killed in London is thought to have been the victim of a politically motivated attack.
Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit, SO15, has taken over the investigation into Imran Farooq’s murder.
Karachi went on alert braced for possible violence, as businesses ground to a halt after the killing in London of thr leading politician exiled in Britain.
Farooq, a founding member of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a major political force in Karachi, was found with head injuries and stab wounds outside his home in north London. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned what his office called 50-year-old Farooq’s “assassination”.
Streets in Karachi were largely empty as MQM declared 10 days of mourning and scrapped birthday celebrations for its leader, Altaf Hussain, who is also based in Britain.

US says arms deals serve ‘national interest’

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Big arms deals to countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel are in the “national interest” of the US as Washington seeks to keep the region stable and counter potential threats from Iran, a US diplomat said.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley had no specific comment on what officials said this week will be the largest ever US arms


Religion is ‘marginalised’ says Pope

Police probe alleged threat to Pontiff’s UK visit

LONDON - Pope Benedict XVI has warned that religion - and Christianity in particular - was “being marginalised” around the world.
His comments came in his keynote speech to UK MPs, senior members of British society, and religious leaders at Westminster Hall in central London.
Pope Benedict XVI warned that there were some people who wanted to see “the voice of religion be silenced.”
He returned to the subject in a service at Westminster Abbey, asking Christians to speak out about their faith.
A BBC correspondent described the speech at Westminster Hall as “a rallying call, and a plea - for religion not to be squeezed out by secular society.”
The Pope was speaking as a sixth man was arrested as counter-terrorism detectives investigate an alleged threat to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.
In his speech at Westminster Hall, the Pope called on those in attendance to seek ways to promote faith “at every level of national life.”
He added: “I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.
“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere.
“There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”- BBC


Riding high: new plane ‘saddle’ would pack in passengers

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A new design for economy class airline seating gives a new meaning to the term “cattle class” -- as passengers would sit on saddle-type seats, even closer to the person in front than now.
The ‘SkyRider’ design, unveiled at a trade fair in Long Beach, California, may appeal to budget airlines around the world eager to save valuable extra inches in the back end of planes.
The new seats would decrease the pitch, or distance, between seats to 58 cm or less, compared to an average of 70 cm, said Italian company Aviointeriors in a statement.
“With a much reduced seat pitch, the SkyRider preserves a comfortable position for the low fare passengers,” said the company as the new seats were presented at the Aircraft Interiiors Expo Americas trade fair.
The SkyRider “is intended as a new basic class. The passenger’s seating position is similar to that of a touring motor-scooter rider,” it added.
“This posture permits that the overall longitudinal space occupied by the seat with the seated passenger is far less than that of a conventional, very high-density 28 inch economy class seat.”
Irish budget airline Ryanair’s publicity-friendly boss Michael O’Leary has suggested he would even be prepared to introduce standing-room only sections in his planes, although this would likely be banned by European safety rules.
“We understand that some airline companies would even want to go for a Stand-Up Cabin,” said Aviointeriors.
“The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability, which, even with a dual or three class seating arrangement, will allow maximum certified passenger capacity of the aircraft.”

New death sparks fresh protests in Kashmir

SRINAGAR (AFP) - Thousands of residents of Kashmir poured on to the streets yesterday after the death of another protester in a wave of anti-India unrest that has gripped the region for three months.
Protesters chanted “we want freedom!” and “Indians go back,” witnesses said in a wave of public anger over the death in Srinigar of the young demonstrator, which brought the overall death toll since the violence began in June to 98.
India earlier deployed soldiers on some streets of Kashmir to restore order, as three more people were shot dead by security forces during violent demonstrations.
Troops were spotted on a key road in the main city of Srinagar that leads to the high-security airport, an AFP reporter said, while residents also reported seeing soldiers in central Budgam and northern Baramulla villages.
The army was last mobilised to assist the police and paramilitary forces in July and the latest measure has angered separatists who resent any moves heightening the sense of occupation in the disputed Himalayan region.

Quotes of the week
best quotes of the week from around the world:


“This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding of Luxembourg, condemning the French crackdown on Roma gypsies.
-- Reding declared she was “appalled by a situation which gave the impression that people are being removed from a member state of the European Union just because they belong to a certain ethnic minority.”


“These words were profoundly hurtful”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reacting to Reding’s comments at an EU summit in Brussels.


“The revelations were for me a shock and a great sadness... The authorities in the Church have not been vigilant enough”
Pope Benedict XVI speaking to journalists on the issue of paedophile priests on the plane taking him to Britain for a state visit.


“You can’t starve the entire population. They are trying to give us collective punishment.”
-- Ajaz Rasool, a retired government official from Srinagar, complains about a strict curfew imposed in all major cities in the disputed region due to three months of mounting violence.


“If you are concerned with the people’s livelihood, then show some sympathy -- kill corrupt officials and local tyrants.”
-- Message on Direct Line to Zhongnanhai, a website set up for Chinese citizens to express their views to top leaders.


“As Americans, we will not and never will be at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us that September day. It was Al Qaeda, a sorry band of men, which perverts religion.”
-- President Barack Obama marking the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.


“I want to send a message to Muslims in France and Europe. The niqab has no basis in Islam. I used to feel dismayed when I saw some of the sisters (in France) wearing the niqab. This does not give a good impression of Islam.”
-- Abdel Muti Al Bayyumi, a leading cleric at Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque, applauds France’s ban on the face veil worn by some devout Muslim women, saying the niqab harms Islam’s image.


“The civilians killed by our soldiers’ fire... were not involved in any terrorist operation.”
-- Brigadier General Ayal Eisenberg, head of the Israeli army’s Gaza division, admitting the killing of three Palestinian civilians, among them an elderly Gazan and his grandson, was a mistake.- AFP


A graphic showing the distribution of the Roma community in Europe

French headdress ban puts European values under scrutiny

By Thanapathi
The French senate voted overwhelmingly to ban face-covering veils such as the Islamic burka on September 14.
The bill passed with a massive majority of 246 in favour with only one lawmaker voting against.
Women who wear the veil could now face a 150 euro fine or be forced to attend French citizenship classes.
Anyone caught forcing someone to wear a burka could be fined 30,000 euros and spend a year in prison if found guilty.

When the bill was approved by the national assembly last July, it enjoyed similar unanimity, with only one person voting against it.
The veil ban has ignited a heated debate on cultural respect in France and greater Europe with the latest legislature being mainly perceived as an act against the growing Muslim population in the continent.
There is a chance the ban may be ruled unconstitutional by France’s Constitutional Council or be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights.

However, the law is written in a way that tries to avoid these challenges. It does not mention the words veil or burka. It simply states that no one may cover their face, unless “required or authorised” to do so by law.
A census found earlier this year that 82% of Frenchmen agreed on the ban while 17% did not.

The French government claimed that it supported the ban for reasons of gender equality, dignity of person and organised community life.
Debate prevails over whether Muslim women in Europe adopt the burka due to pressure from their community or as an informed choice. Either way the French government argues that women who wear the body covering burka are dehumanised. However, human rights groups like Amnesty International condemned the new law claiming that it violates freedom of expression and religion.

France’s move is part of a rapidly growing trend across Europe reflecting dissatisfaction with the growing prominence of Islam in the Continent.
While Muslims make up only a small percentage of the population in Western Europe, there is growing resentment among Europeans towards what is perceived as extremist ideology often linked with the religion.

A Financial Times survey in March showed that in the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany, a majority support a burka ban.
Full facial veils known as niqabs or burqas - are extremely rare in Europe, but the number of women wearing them is rising. No exact figures exist, but estimates put the totals at about 2,000 in France and a few hundred in Belgium. Promoters of a ban denounce the veils as a threat to public security, an affront to women’s dignity, a negation of gender equality or an intrusion of religion on public life. Concern over radical Islamism getting a foothold in Europe has been a concern in recent years. France has not been alone in its attempts to bring about laws to curtail the spread of Islamic dress. Last May the Belgian lower house of parliament unanimously passed a law to ban the burqa. Belgium’s Muslim population stands at about 400,000 – or roughly 4 percent of the total and only a few thousand women are estimated to wear the Islamic dress.

The latest controversy comes in the wake of an increased anti Islamic sentiment across the Atlantic in the US.
This year’s 9/11 anniversary of the attacks on New York were marred by threats by a Christian pastor in Florida to burn copies of the Holy Quran.
American public opinion has been even more polarised by the proposed construction of an Islamic centre near the ground zero site in New York.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Europe has also been witnessing an increased level of violence perpetrated by Islamic groups.
The 9/11 plotters were later discovered to have belong to a terrorist cell that operated from Hamburg, Germany.
In later years, Madrid train bombings that killed nearly 200 people were carried out by Al Qaeda, so was the London subway bombing. In the case of London, all four attackers were British Muslims who had been born and raised in that country.

It was a wakeup call on Europe that they have a serious problem of radicalising in the Islamic communities.
This has been a difficult prospect for many governments and citizens in Europe to come to terms with.

Europeans and their leaders have been comfortable under the notion that terrorism, especially of elements that profess Islamic views would emanate from the Middle East or Afghanistan or such distant countries rather than have home grown extremists wishing to destroy Europe from within.

The fact that many in their own communities have got radicalised into attacking their fellow citizens started a fear psychosis in Europe that was championed by the many right wing political parties that have been traditionally for tougher immigration controls.
Soon after the head dress ban, the French government was once again on the firing line, this time for its expulsion of illegal immigrants, mainly from Eastern Europe. Thousands of Romania’s Roma, also known as Gypsies, have been moving to France and several other western European nations in the wake of the economic hardships in their own countries.

Roma Crisis
The European Union’s latest expansion in 2007 brought in the relatively poor nations of Romania and have renewed concern that the poor, traveling far from home in search of work, will become a burden on wealthier countries.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France vowed to keep dismantling immigrant camps and angrily rejected complaints from European Commission officials that the French authorities were illegally singling out Roma for deportation.
In recent weeks, Sarkozy has tried to revive his support on the political right by deporting thousands of them, offering 300 euros, to those who go home voluntarily, and bulldozing their encampments.

The European Commission has threatened legal action against Paris over the deportation, calling it disgraceful and illegal.
Europe has long been an oasis for liberal ideology.
The unprecedented peace and stability witnessed in the continent for the past 65 years is mainly attributed to this liberal value system.

However, recent events in Europe, especially increasing paranoia against its Islamic population, hardening stance against immigrants and intolerance towards ethnic minorities have exposed the underlying weaknesses in Europe.
Economic difficulties in recent years have exacerbated these undertones.

Legislature such as the banning of head dresses that would be perceived as actions against the Islamic community and the general intolerance of ethnic minorities will create greater divisions in Europe which can threaten its stability and hard achieved prosperity.

Iran leads nuclear drive in the Middle East

CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt’s plan to build four nuclear powerplants by 2025 underscores the emerging interest in atomic energy across the Middle East, where even oil-rich nations such as Kuwait and the UAE are eyeing fossil fuel alternatives to satisfy growing demand.
In the region and beyond all eyes are on Iran, which says it is firing up its first nuclear reactor before the end of this year, becoming the first Muslim country in the Middle East to produce nuclear energy.
The announcement that the Russian-built Bushehr reactor in southern Iran will start up in October or November rang alarm bells in the region and beyond.
Iran’s neighbours and world powers largely suspect that behind its claimed drive to acquire atomic energy for peaceful purposes, Tehran’s anti-Western government is hiding a covert atomic weapons programme.
Though wary of Iran, Middle Eastern states want to harness nuclear energy more out of necessity than competition with Iran, some analysts and officials say.
“It is a matter of energy,” said Mostafa el-Feki, who heads the Egyptian parliament’s foreign relations committee and who was Egypt’s ambassador to Austria and its representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He said Egypt has a scientific base for nuclear energy: “When I was ambassador to Vienna, we used to have nearly 10 Egyptian inspectors.”
Egypt, which has flirted with nuclear power since the 1950s, is also planning solar and wind plants, with the target of producing 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. Its gas and oil reserves are expected to last three decades.
Cairo said last month that a plant on the Mediterranean coast of el-Dabaa will be the centrepiece of a plan to build four nuclear plants by 2025, part of a regional trend away from conventional energy as demand soars.
Jordan also says the regional drive is fuelled by economic necessity.
“The increasing interest in the region in nuclear power is because of the high oil prices. Countries who don’t have oil are now looking for other options to generate energy,” said Jordan’s Atomic Energy Commission chief Khaled Tukan.
This month, Jordan and Japan signed an agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation in the ninth such accord by the kingdom.
Jordan, which imports about 95 percent of its energy needs, wants its first nuclear plant to be ready by 2015.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also expressed interest in building nuclear power stations.
The UAE, which hopes to start its first plant in 2017 and already imports natural gas to produce energy, says that necessity, not regional politics, is behind its nuclear ambitions.
Its energy demand is projected to increase to 40,000 megawatts by 2020, double its current level. Last year, it awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to a South Korean-led consortium for four nuclear power plants.
Kuwait, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, has signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with Japan, and announced it intends to build four nuclear reactors over the next 12 years.

Race on to find Bosnian war victims in ‘mass grave’ lake
VISEGRAD, Bosnia-Hercegovina (AFP) - Battling constant rain, a forensics team races against time to find the remains of Muslim victims of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in the bed of an emptied lake.
They have only days left before Lake Perucac, a reservoir for a hydropower dam in the east of the country, is refilled.
In raincoats and rubber boots, the team trudges through the mud towards a small green flag marking the spot where a skeleton was found the day before.
“The bones are in fairly good condition. They have probably been preserved by water and mud,” forensics expert Salih Hodzic said.
Also there, barely discernable, is a grey sweater, a pair of socks and a man’s black shoe. There is no skull, but the team is pleased to have found a nearly complete skeleton.
One worker writes the name of the area, Donje Stitarevo, and a file number -- 303 -- on a piece of white paper that is put next to the remains. They are photographed, and then exhumed and placed in a white body bag.
Of the more than 330 sets of partial remains found so far, this is one of the few almost complete ones.
The search of the lake and part of the Drina River, which marks the border between Serbia and Bosnia, started late July when water levels dropped to an historic low because of repairs being carried out on the dam.
From Thursday the lake was to be slowly refilled, its level rising two metres every two days until a pause at the eight-metre mark to allow the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia to continue its search, being carried out along a 20-km stretch of the river.
Survivors say the bodies of many Muslims from the nearby town of Visegrad were thrown into the river by Bosnian Serb forces during their brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing at the start of the war in 1992.
The Bosnian institute as well as Serbian authorities on the other side of the border have searched dozens of kilometres of the river in the past months. But they are under pressure to pick up the pace before the water level is too high for them to continue.
“I think we’ll get there if the weather is not too bad,” said Samir Sabanija, a Bosnian team official.
“This is a very specific type of terrain. We’ve never done this before and wondered how to start. It is, after all, a huge mass grave,” he said.
Right of reply
Japan’s position on sovereignty over Senkaku Islands

Reference to the article entitled ‘Japan concerned over China’s growing military reach’ published in The Nation newspaper on (World) page 2 of September 12 in connection with the detention of a Chinese fishing vessel by Japan, in which the Senkaku Islands of Japan has been categorised as “disputed waters”, the Japanese Embassy in Colombo has sent us the following response:
Japan strongly objects to Senkaku Island being designated as such, due to the fact that Japan has sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. Considering the misinformation published in these articles and in view of informing your readers of Japan’s position regarding the same, the Embassy wishes to inform you of Japan’s inalterable position on the sovereignty of Senkaku Islands as follows;
1. From 1885 on, surveys of the Senkaku Islands had been thoroughly made by the Government of Japan through the agencies of Okinawa Prefecture and by way of other methods. Through these surveys, it was confirmed that the Senkaku Islands had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of China. Based on this confirmation, the Government of Japan made a Cabinet Decision on January 14 1895 to erect a marker on the Islands to formally incorporate the Senkaku Islands into the territory of Japan.
2. Since then, the Senkaku Islands have continuously remained as an integral part of the Nansei Shoto Islands which are the territory of Japan. These islands were neither part of Taiwan nor part of the Pescadores Islands which were ceded to Japan from the Qing Dynasty of China in accordance with Article II of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which came into effect in May 1895.
3. Accordingly, the Senkaku Islands are not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article II of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The Senkaku Islands have been placed under the administration of the United States of America as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, in accordance with Article III of the said treaty, and are included in the area, the administrative rights over which were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Agreement Between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands signed on 17 June 1971. The facts outlined herein clearly indicates the status of the Senkaku Islands being part of the territory of Japan.
4. The fact that China expressed no objection to the status of the Islands being under the administration of the United States under Article III of the San Francisco Peace Treaty clearly indicates that China did not consider the Senkaku Islands as part of Taiwan. It was not until the latter half of 1970, when the question of the development of petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea came to the surface, that the Government of China and Taiwan authorities began to raise questions regarding the Senkaku Islands.
I shall be grateful if you would give due consideration to Japan’s official position whenever reference is made to Senkaku Islands in your newspapers.
Kaoru Shimazaki, Minister/ Deputy Head of Mission


N Korea may have hit succession snag

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea may have hit a snag in its move to annoint Kim Jong-Il’s youngest son as successor, being forced to delay a key party conference, a government source in Seoul was quoted as saying yesterday.
The communist state has apparently put off its biggest political gathering for 30 years due to take place sometime in the first half of September to elect the “highest leading body” of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

MI5 chief highlights new threats
LONDON (AFP) - Extremists opposed to Northern Ireland’s peace process could launch fresh attacks in Britain, the head of security service MI5 has said, adding that Al Qaeda still poses a “real threat”.
Jonathan Evans also warned of a growing menace from Somalia and Yemen and said extremists could try to target the 2012 London Olympics, in a speech delivered this week.

UN seeks $2bn for Pakistan disaster

NEW YORK (AFP) - The UN appealed for a record $2 billion in emergency aid for the millions of victims of Pakistan’s devastating floods.
The Pakistan floods are “the worst natural disaster the United Nations has responded to in its 65-year history,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the appeal. The floods caused by weeks of torrential rain have left less than 2,000 dead, according to an official toll, but the UN said the massive surge has exposed more than 20 million people to homelessness, malnutrition, risks of epidemics and loss of livelihood.

William qualifies as search and rescue pilot
LONDON(AFP) - Britain’s Prince William graduated as a search and rescue helicopter pilot oand said it would be an honour to start work at the controls.
The 28-year-old, who is second in line to the throne, will still carry out royal duties when he is not on the roster. He graduated from his flying course on Friday and officially joined 22 Squadron, C Flight, where he will co-pilot Sea King Mk3 helicopters at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Valley base on Anglesey, northwest Wales.

Google dismisses engineer
NEW YORK (AFP) - Google said it had dismissed an engineer for violating the Internet giant’s privacy policies.
“We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies,” Bill Coughran, Google senior vice president of engineering, said in a statement.