- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

INDONESIA

Thousands demand Obama statue removal

JAKARTA | A statue of Barack Obama as a boy, erected in a Jakarta park, has been targeted in a Facebook campaign by thousands who say it should be removed.

The Indonesian-language Facebook group named “Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Taman Menteng Park” had attracted more than 15,000 members by Tuesday. The 43-inch statue of Mr. Obama as a 10-year-old boy, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, was unveiled Thursday in the downtown park.

“Everybody knows that Obama is a world leader, but he is not our national hero who deserves to be awarded a statue,” said Heru Nugroho, the group’s creator.

Many Indonesians are proud that Mr. Obama lived in Jakarta from 1967 to 1971 with his American mother, his Indonesian stepfather and his half-sister.

PAKISTAN

Car bomb kills 33 near politician’s home

DERA GHAZI KHAN | A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in a market close to a politician’s home in central Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 33 people.

The attack in the Punjabi town of Dera Ghazi Khan badly damaged the lawmaker’s house and nearby shops and buildings, including a mosque and a bank. It was not clear whether the bomber was targeting the home of the politician, who was not there at the time, or the market.

The lawmaker whose home was hit, Zulfiqar Khosa, is a senior member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which is in charge of the Punjab government but is in the opposition in the federal government.

ITALY

Attacker sorry for Berlusconi hit

ROME | An Italian man who broke Silvio Berlusconi’s nose and teeth by striking him with a spiked souvenir has apologized to the prime minister for his “cowardly and rash act,” the attacker’s attorneys said.

The 73-year-old billionaire businessman is expected to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday with orders to rest for two weeks, his doctor said.

Allies say the normally irrepressible prime minister is badly shaken and at one point asked a visiting priest: “Why do they hate me to this point?” But Mr. Berlusconi put on a brave face in his first public message to Italians since entering the hospital.

MEXICO

Calderon proposes major reform

MEXICO CITY | President Felipe Calderon is proposing runoff elections in future presidential contests and re-election for many officials, in Mexico’s most dramatic political reform attempt in decades.

The proposal announced Tuesday still would limit presidents to a single, six-year term, but it would relax Mexico’s ironclad ban on re-election of other officials.

It also would allow independent candidates to run for public offices and would permit citizen initiatives.

But reforms would require a string of tough-to-pass constitutional amendments, and they are likely to come under fire from established parties who could see their power eroded by the changes.

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