- - Monday, October 3, 2011

UNITED NATIONS

Soros gives $27.4 million to village project

George Soros has pledged $27.4 million to aid development in targeted villages across rural Africa, the billionaire financier said Monday.

Mr. Soros also pledged up to $20 million in loans to support business projects within those villages over the next five years.

The founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations thanked his board of directors Monday for backing his pledge to the Millennium Villages project despite early misgivings.

Mr. Soros said that board members opposed his giving any donations to the project when it was first launched five years ago, considering it risky.

But he said he gave money anyway “because it was my money” and the idea seemed “worth a shot.”

The project’s record has proved its success, said Mr. Soros. “It has been a big challenge, but the project has come a long way,” he said.

The project aims to help 500,000 people in 10 countries across Africa to reach U.N. development goals and offer a model for the remainder of the continent.

SWEDEN

Just-deceased scientist wins Nobel Prize in medicine

STOCKHOLM — A pioneering researcher was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday, three days after dying of pancreatic cancer without ever knowing he was about to be honored for his immune system work that he had used to try to prolong his own life.

The Nobel committee said it was unaware that Canadian-born cell biologist Ralph Steinman had already died when it awarded the prize to him, American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann.

Since the committee is only supposed to consider living scientists, the Nobel Foundation held an emergency meeting Monday and said the decision on the $1.5 million prize will remain unchanged.

“The Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel laureate was alive,” the foundation said.

Mr. Steinman, 68, died Sept. 30, according to Rockefeller University in New York. He underwent therapy based on his discovery of the immune system’s dendritic cells, for which he won the prize, the university said.

INDIA

Piracy costs shipping trade $9 billion a year

NEW DELHI — Piracy is costing the global shipping trade more than $9 billion a year, according to Indian ship owners, who on Monday demanded that the U.N. set up a maritime force to stop pirates from operating off the Somalian coast in the Indian Ocean.

Increased insurance costs, longer routes to avoid pirate-infested areas, armed guards posted on board ships and ransoms paid for the release of hijacked vessels and crew push up operating costs for the global shipping industry, said Anil Devli of the Indian National Shipowners Organization.

Pirates from Somalia are holding about 26 hijacked ships and 600 crew in captivity.

The Horn of Africa nation hasn’t had a functioning government since 1991, and piracy has flourished. International militaries patrol the region, but the seas are too vast for the effort to halt attacks.

The association has written to the Indian government to pursue their demand for a maritime force under U.N. command, much like the world body’s peacekeeping force, to ensure the safety and security of sea lanes in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, Mr. Devli said Monday.

PHILIPPINES

Communist rebels raid mining companies

MANILA — About 200 heavily armed communist rebels stormed three mining companies in the southern Philippines on Monday, disarming guards and seizing several people, security officials said.

The New People’s Army rebels also burned trucks, a barge and a guesthouse inside one of the compounds during the raids in Surigao del Norte province, police and military officials said.

Regional police Chief Reynaldo Rafal said the rebels, armed with automatic rifles and grenades, first raided the Taganito Mining Corp. in Claver township, seizing several security guards and company officials.

The rebels herded the hostages into a van and took them to another area of the company compound where the rebels burned several trucks, he said.

Chief Rafal said the nickel-mining company has several Japanese managers, but it was not clear whether any foreigners were being held. A crisis committee was assessing the situation, he added.