- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

GERMANY

Search on for man in airport breach

BERLIN | German authorities were searching Thursday for a roughly 50-year-old man who left a screening area with his laptop after it had triggered an alert for possible explosives.

The security employee at Munich Airport who had ordered the check on the man’s laptop - then lost track of him after he had passed through the scanner - was suspended Thursday, said Christoph Hillenbrand, the president of Upper Bavaria.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, forcing part of the airport’s Terminal 2 to be closed for several hours and hundreds of people to evacuate.

German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere has promised to launch a thorough investigation, and to determine whether security measures at Munich Airport were sufficient.

The incident appeared to have been a false alarm, triggered by a passenger in a hurry to catch his plane who was unaware of what had happened.

HONDURAS

Interim leader leaves Cabinet in charge

TEGUCIGALPA | Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti said Thursday that he will move out of the presidential palace and avoid public appearances six days before the newly elected leader’s inauguration. He did not resign.

Mr. Micheletti said he is voluntarily withdrawing from the spotlight and leaving his Cabinet in charge of day-to-day operations to ease the way for President-elect Porfirio Lobo, who is scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday.

Congress named Mr. Micheletti acting president after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office in a June 28 coup. Mr. Micheletti took a similar informal leave during the Nov. 29 presidential elections. The constitution allows the president to be absent from office for up to 15 days at a time.

Mr. Zelaya remains holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, where he took refuge after sneaking back into the country in September. On Wednesday, Mr. Lobo signed an agreement with Dominican President Leonel Fernandez to allow Mr. Zelaya to travel to the Dominican Republic as Mr. Fernandez’s guest.

IRAQ

U.S. Embassy looking for Facebook friends

BAGHDAD | The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is looking for Iraqi friends on Facebook.

The embassy launched the page Thursday with the aim of reaching out to Iraqis who want to learn more about American culture and society, the latest step by the State Department to boost interest in Iraq’s burgeoning online culture and promote Web entrepreneurship.

The State Department has organized a number of high-profile visits to Iraq in recent months by top executives from Google, Twitter, AT&T; and others. Recently, the embassy assisted in setting up a YouTube channel for the Iraqi government.

BRITAIN

Jack Straw defends Iraq war decision

LONDON | Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the country’s Iraq inquiry Thursday that he agonized over the decision to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with force, but feels officials made the best decision they could.

“I believed at the time, and I still believe, that we made the best judgments we could have done in the circumstances,” Mr. Straw said in a written statement presented as evidence. “We did so assiduously and on the best evidence we had available at the time.”

Mr. Straw, a key figure in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration currently serving as Britain’s justice minister, said the decision to go to war was the most difficult he has ever made. He asserted that had he opposed the plan, Mr. Blair would have been unable to persuade the rest of the Cabinet and the Parliament to support the decision to invade, and the war plan would not have been implemented.

AFGHANISTAN

Health problems cause of most evacuations

LONDON | American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to be medically evacuated for health problems such as a bad back than for combat injuries, a new study says.

Researchers also found psychiatric disorders rose during the period studied - 2004 to 2007 - despite an increased focus on treating mental health problems.

The research was published Friday in the British medical journal, Lancet.

Steven Cohen of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore and colleagues analyzed data from about 34,000 American military staff medically evacuated from Afghanistan and Iraq during those years, or about 6 percent of the service personnel.

In previous wars, including World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, combat injuries also were not the top cause of soldier hospitalizations; illnesses such as respiratory and infectious diseases were.

POLAND

Auschwitz sign returned to museum

WARSAW | The infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign stolen last month from Auschwitz and broken into three pieces was returned to the museum at the site of the Nazi death camp Thursday.

Police - who had quickly recovered the damaged sign after its theft - gave it to museum officials at a brief ceremony in Krakow. It was then taken to the museum 50 miles away, where conservation experts examined the three dark steel pieces of the sign, whose cynical Nazi slogan means “Work Sets You Free.”

Thieves had cut up the sign at the site of the death camp the night of their heist to make it easier to transport in their getaway car.

Five Polish suspects have confessed to stealing it on Dec. 18. However, officials are still seeking a suspected neo-Nazi from Sweden who is believed to have ordered the theft, possibly for a collector of Nazi memorabilia, prosecutors said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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