- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

COLOMBIA

Arrest in scam triggers protests

BOGOTA | The accused boss of a Colombian financial pyramid scheme that threatens investors with millions of dollars in losses was arrested Thursday, sparking violent protests over government actions to shut the business down.

David Murcia, head of financial agency DMG, was caught in Panama as he tried to flee into Costa Rica. He was extradited to Colombia, where he and his directors face charges of money laundering and other financial crimes, police said.

President Alvaro Uribe has shut down about 60 DMG stores at which clients used special debit cards to buy goods as part of their financial contracts.

DMG clients Thursday took to the streets of Bogota to protest the store closings. They refuse to turn their cards over to the government, saying DMG never reneged on its deals.

Dozens of clients who lined up at a local football stadium to fill out papers to turn their DMG debit cards over to the government were attacked by the protesters, who punched and kicked them, calling them traitors, before police intervened.

ZIMBABWE

S. Africa threatens to withhold aid

HARARE | South Africa said Thursday that it will withhold aid for Zimbabwe until a representative government is in place, in what appeared to be the first punitive measure by a regional country to enforce a power-sharing agreement.

The South African government said it was “extremely concerned” about Zimbabwe’s political impasse, which has deepened a humanitarian crisis, and called for “mature leadership” to resolve issues.

The tough statement came as President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change prepared to hold another round of talks in South Africa next week to seek a breakthrough while political tensions are rising.

JAPAN

Missile defense test fails

A Japanese naval destroyer failed to intercept a dummy ballistic missile in a test aimed at mimicking an intermediate-range North Korean missile attack, the United States and Japan announced Wednesday.

The test involved the Chokai, the second Japanese Kongo-class ship to be outfitted for missile defense.

The drill off Kauai, Hawaii, used the ship-borne Aegis ballistic missile defense system made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a Standard Missile-3 Block 1A missile, built by Raytheon Co.

IRAQ

U.S. forces kill al Qaeda leader

BAGHDAD | U.S. forces killed a senior al Qaeda leader wanted for planning suicide bombings, kidnappings and assassinations, including the abduction and killing of a U.S. army sergeant in 2004, the U.S. military said Thursday.

U.S. forces killed Hammadi, a senior leader of al Qaeda in Iraq in Garma and Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, during a raid in Baghdad’s upscale western Mansur district on Nov 11.

He was wanted for organizing and carrying out attacks and assassinations against U.S. and Iraqi forces, including the abduction and killing of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin in 2004.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers shouted and pounded their desks in protest Thursday in a second day of emotional debate in the Iraqi parliament over a proposed agreement with the U.S. that would allow American forces to stay in Iraq for three more years.

CONGO

U.N. votes to send more peacekeepers

GOMA | The U.N. Security Council agreed Thursday to send 3,100 more peacekeeping troops to Congo, while rebels said they remained committed to a pullback from the front lines despite an army attack.

There are currently 17,000 peacekeepers in the vast Central African nation, but they have been unable to stop the fighting.

POLAND

Copernicus’ grave, remains found

WARSAW | Researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer’s books.

The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.

Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski said forensic facial reconstruction of the skull, missing the lower jaw, his team found in 2005 buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears a striking resemblance to existing portraits of Copernicus, who died in 1543.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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