forces clash with protesters
|Aljazeera: Tear gas and armoured vehicles used to
disperse protesters after funeral of father of opposition
Security forces in Bahrain have used tear gas and armoured
vehicles to drive back hundreds of protesters advancing
toward a heavily guarded square that was once the centre of
pro-reform demonstrations in the Gulf nation. Witnesses said
hundreds of demonstrators marched to Pearl Square in
Bahrain’s capital Manama after a funeral procession on
Friday morning for the seventy eight-year-old father of an
According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Ali Hasan
al-Dehi was beaten to death by riot police on Wednesday
while returning to his home in the village of Dehi.
Opposition groups claim he died as a result of his alleged
treatment by police. The United States, whose Fifth Fleet is
based in Bahrain, called on all sides to exercise restraint.
It urged the government to be fully transparent in the
investigation of what happened to al-Dehi.
“We, the US, would encourage full transparency as this case
proceeds and we obviously call on everybody to exercise
restraint,” Victoria Nuland, a US state department
spokeswoman, said in Washington.
“It is a fragile time in Bahrain as all sides wait for the
Bahraini independent commission of inquiry report.”
The head of the commission, which was set up to investigate
allegations of human rights violations in Bahrain during
months of unrest, on Monday was quoted as saying that he had
found evidence of systematic torture. But the Bahraini
ministry of health denied the accusation, saying that al-Dehi
had died from a heart attack after he fell unconscious at
his home. Al-Dehi was the father of Hussein al-Dehi, who is
the deputy-head of the main Shia opposition group.
Authorities said he died of natural causes.
After his funeral, hundreds of mainly Shia Bahrainis tried
to make their way toward the former Pearl Roundabout - the
site where anti-government protests first began. With
assistance from troops from other gulf countries, the
government ended the protests with a violent crackdown that
reportedly killed dozens.
Video and images uploaded on social media websites on Friday
appeared to show police cars driving at protesters in
several locations. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain
Centre for Human Rights, said the government had blocked
roads to try to prevent people from attending the funeral
Bahrain is hoping to conclude an arms deal with the United
States but the purchase could hinge on the results of the
commission investigating this year’s unrest and claims by
Shias of abuse they suffered during martial law.
|Greek PM survives confidence vote
|CNN: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou won a
confidence vote in Parliament early Saturday by a narrow
margin, giving his country’s stricken economy some breathing
room, but no panacea.
The 153-145 vote victory came minutes after Papandreou
announced that he will seek a coalition government, though
it was not immediately clear whether he would lead it.
“Tomorrow, I will go see the president and inform him that I
am willing to hold talks with other parties in order to form
a coalition government,” the leader said late Friday in a
speech to Parliament.
The leader said it would be disastrous if elections were to
be held immediately, because that would leave “up in the
air” a controversial bailout deal that was brokered October
26. It would exact tough austerity measures on the Greek
people and their government.
Under a motion of confidence, lawmakers signal to the head
of state whether the government has the support of
parliament. A loss typically results in the government’s
dissolution and the holding of a general election unless the
head of state asks someone with more support to form a
As he had done on Thursday night, Papandreou pushed for
approval of the international bailout package that the
country has been offered, calling it “a huge change, and
perhaps the last one, to rebuild a country with new and
Papandreou reiterated that he has no great desire to
maintain his grip on power. “The last thing I care for is
the chair,” he said. “I don’t care if I never get elected
He defended his leadership, accusing previous governments of
miring the Greek economy in debt. “Those days, you could
borrow money easily, and now that’s why the Greek people
have to pay back for it,” he said. Papandreou said he now
wants “to turn the page over and move forward.”
But opposition leader Antonis Samaras has made clear that he
is not ready to turn the page, calling for a transitional
government for six weeks, followed by elections.
Papandreou declared that such a course would prove “simply
catastrophic. “If we go straight away to elections, we won’t
be able to implement a bailout,” he said.
The deal brokered on October 26 would wipe out 100 billion
euros in Greek debt, half of what it owes. It comes with a
promise of 30 billion euros from the public sector to help
pay off some of the remaining debts, making the whole deal
worth 130 billion euros ($178 billion).
But the package comes with strings that would require Greece
to slash government jobs, privatize some businesses and
reduce pensions. Saturday’s narrow victory is expected to
mean that Greece will get its next tranche of money from a
separate international agreement brokered in May 2010,
allowing it to pay its bills next month and avoid immediate
That $8 billion euro payment had been threatened when
Papandreou announced earlier this week that he would take
the bailout package to the Greek people through a national
referendum, a move he retracted Thursday.
The vote of confidence did nothing to eliminate the specter
of looming economic disaster that has dogged the debt-ridden
country and sent shock waves through international markets.
Though Greece ranks 32nd in terms of gross domestic product,
experts say it wields a disproportionate influence on world
markets; economists fret that a Greek default could drag
down larger European economies, like those of Portugal,
Spain, Ireland and Italy.
“It’s not over,” said Heather Conley, director of the Center
for Strategic International Studies’ Europe Program, about
the crisis. “We’re buying time in nearly daily increments.
It doesn’t change the fact that this is a fourth year of a
Greek recession, and they have missed nearly all their
The real solution would be to redefine the euro zone and the
European Union, creating a transfer of wealth from north to
south, she said, adding “That’s not going to happen.”
Meanwhile, the country is pursuing two strategies - trying
to buy time for Greece to fix its economy and trying to
That may not be easy. “Today, the yields on 10-year Italian
bonds are at the highest they have ever been,” she said.
“That’s unsustainable.” Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi said Friday that Italy had agreed to let the
International Monetary Fund “certify” its reform program, a
step designed to boost investor confidence.
The Greek drama was occurring as the G-20 economic summit
was taking place 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) west, in
U.S. President Barack Obama told the summit Friday he was
confident that Europe could meet the challenge presented by
the troubled global economy.
“Make no mistake, there is more hard work ahead and more
difficult changes to make but our European partners have
laid a foundation on which to build,” Obama said.
Recent events in Greece have underscored the importance of
implementing a Greek economic bailout plan fully and
quickly, he said, but the elements were in place to ensure
stability -- including a firewall around European debt, the
strengthening of European banks, charting a sustainable path
for Greece and making structural reforms.
“All of us have an enormous interest in Europe’s success and
all of us will be affected if Europe is not growing,” he
|Top Farc rebel leader
Alfonso Cano ‘killed’ in Colombia
BBC: The top
commander of Colombia’s left-wing Farc rebel group has been
killed, officials say. Defence ministry sources told media
that Alfonso Cano had been killed in an army operation in
the mountains in the south-west of the country.
Colombia had offered a reward of nearly $4m (£2.5m) for
information leading to his capture. Security forces have
killed a number of Farc commanders and arrested many others
over the past year.
Details of the military operation in Cauca state are still
sketchy, with some reports suggesting that Cano was killed
in a bombing raid. State Governor Gonzalez Mosquera later
told local radio that the military had “achieved one of its
most important goals”. “The fingerprints matched,” one
senior security official was later quoted as saying by the
Associated Press news agency. Cano, a 62-year-old academic
from Bogota, became the Farc’s leader in 2008 after his
predecessor, Manuel Marulanda died of a heart attack. Cano’s
real name is Guillermo Leon Saenz. In July, he narrowly
escaped a raid on his camp, Colombia officials said. The
Marxist-inspired Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia) has been weakened by a military offensive which
began 10 years ago.
However the group - the oldest and largest among Colombia’s
left-wing rebels - retains the ability to mount hit-and-run
|China pit disaster: dozens more miners
pulled out alive
BBC: Emergency teams in
central China have rescued most of a group of miners who had
been trapped underground for more than 36 hours following a
cave-in. Chinese media say more than 40 men were pulled out
alive on Saturday. Seven had been rescued on Friday at the
mine in the city of Samenxia in Henan province.
Several others are said to be missing. Four miners were
killed. The mine collapsed after an earthquake on Thursday.
Hundreds of Chinese miners die every year in accidents.
On Saturday state broadcaster CCTV showed images of miners
being pulled out on stretchers with towels wrapped around
their eyes to protect them from the sun’s glare
Local safety officials said 75 miners had been working in
the pit at the time of the explosion. They were reportedly
in a 760m-deep (2,493ft) shaft which was blocked by the rock
burst - an explosion caused by the sudden release of
built-up pressure - at a depth of 480m. Some 14 managed to
An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.9 hit the area shortly
before the rock burst.
China’s mining industry is one of the most dangerous in the
world, and is notorious for its lax safety standards.
Earlier this week a gas explosion at a mine in neighbouring
Hunan province killed 29 people. But officials insist the
country’s record is improving, and say they have taken
action by closing many illegal mines.
|Cleaner removes ‘stain’ from acclaimed
Telegraph: A determined German cleaner
destroyed a piece of art valued at £690,000 by cleaning away
what she thought was an unsightly stain from the artwork.
The cleaner got to work on an installation by the late and
famed artist Martin Kippenberger at a museum in Dortmund.
Entitled ‘When It Starts Dripping From The Ceilings’ the
piece comprised a tower of wooden slats with a plastic bowl
at the bottom painted brown to give the impression of
discolouration caused by water. The cleaner took the paint
to be an actual stain and scrubbed the bowl till it looked
“It is now impossible to return it to its original state,” a
museum spokeswoman said, adding that it appeared the cleaner
was unaware of museum rules prohibiting cleaning staff
getting with 20 centimetres of any pieces or art work.
Kippenberger was regarded as one of the finest artists of
his generation until his death in 1997 aged just 44. His
work now commands a high value and earlier this year one
sculpture was sold at Christie’s in London for £1,329250.
The Dortmund incident in not the first time a piece of art
has fallen victim to a cleaner. In 2004 a cleaner at the
Tate Modern binned part of a work by artist Gustav Metzger.
|Signs of ageing halted in the lab
BBC: The onset of wrinkles, muscle wasting and cataracts has
been delayed and even eliminated in mice, say researchers in
the US. It was done by ‘flushing out’ retired cells that had
stopped dividing. They accumulate naturally with age.
The scientists believe their findings could eventually
‘really have an impact’ in the care of the elderly. Experts
said the results were ‘fascinating’, but should be taken
with a bit of caution.
The study, published in Nature, focused on what are known as
‘senescent cells’. They stop dividing into new cells and
have an important role in preventing tumours from
progressing. These cells are cleared out by the immune
system, but their numbers build up with time. The
researchers estimated that around 10% of cells are senescent
in very old people.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic, in the US, devised a way to
kill all senescent cells in genetically engineered mice. The
animals would age far more quickly than normal, and when
they were given a drug, the senescent cells would die.