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Bahrain security forces clash with protesters
Aljazeera: Tear gas and armoured vehicles used to disperse protesters after funeral of father of opposition leader.
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 opposition leader.
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 ceremony.
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 government.
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 strong foundations.”
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 again.”
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 default.
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 austerity targets.”
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 prevent contagion.
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 Cannes, France.
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 said.
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 attacks.

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 escape.
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 artwork

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 new.
“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.