- - Sunday, December 11, 2011

BRITAIN

London Olympics chief approves Dow sponsorship

BEIJING — The chairman of London’s 2012 Olympic organizing committee said Sunday that he is comfortable with having Dow Chemical participate as a sponsor of the games despite criticism over its links to a gas leak in India that killed thousands.

An estimated 15,000 people died in 1984, when gas leaked out of a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001 and says legal claims from the disaster have been resolved.

Victims of the accident, as well as former Indian Olympians and officials, have been pressuring Olympic organizers to drop Dow as a sponsor. Protesters in Bhopal recently burned an effigy of the head of the Olympic organizing committee, Sebastian Coe.

On Sunday, Mr. Coe defended Dow’s involvement.

“Of course I understand the human scale of that suffering, but these are two very different issues,” he said.

The U.S.-based chemical manufacturer will pay for a curtain-style wrap to encircle the Olympic Stadium in East London under a deal announced in August.

In India, survivors and their advocates say the wrap project with Dow ignores the pain they have suffered since Dec. 3, 1984, when gas and chemicals leaked out of the pesticide plant, which was owned and operated by an Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide.

The world’s worst industrial accident killed 15,000 people and injured 500,000, according to the Indian government, and is being blamed for major local health problems 27 years later.

Union Carbide paid $470 million as compensation for those killed or injured. The Indian government is seeking an additional $1.7 billion for the victims.

ITALY

Pope: Christmas will be tough this year

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI says he knows Christmas this year will be difficult, in an acknowledgment of the economic crisis gripping much of the West.

But he is urging the faithful to remember there is more to the holiday than buying gifts.

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