- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trouble is brewing in India over an American beer named after a Hindu deity; lawmakers in New Delhi on Tuesday demanded an apology from U.S. Ambassador Nancy J. Powell.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, a member of parliament from the conservative opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, called on the Foreign Ministry to summon Ms. Powell to explain why the Burnside Brewing Co. in Portland, Ore., planned to release a beer named for the fearsome-looking four-armed Kali, the goddess of time and change, who wears a necklace of severed heads.

“Is there no manufacturing code [in the United States]? Can they show the god of any other faith like this?” Mr. Prasad asked.

“Summon the U.S. ambassador, and make her apologize for this,” he demanded, raising the controversy to a diplomatic dispute.

Rajiv Shukla, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs in the ruling United Progressive Alliance, said he will “immediately” inform Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna about the lawmaker’s fury.

Meanwhile, half a world away in Portland, the owners of the Burnside brewery already were dealing with angry American Hindus, whose outrage had been fermenting since the company announced plans to release Kali-Ma beer.

Rajan Zed, president of the Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism, last week urged Burnside to change the beer’s name.

The company responded by canceling the planned release on Tuesday and apologizing for any insult to the Hindu religion.

Burnside, in a statement, said it is “scrambling” to rename the beer and plans to market it soon.

“It is NEVER the intention at Burnside to offend or alienate any race, creed, religion or sexual orientation,” the statement said.

Burnside said the inspiration for the name of the beer, made with Indian spices, came from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The character played by actor Harrison Ford is forced to drink “the black sleep of Kali Ma,” which puts him in a coma.

THE LIFE OF YULIA

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and another top American official met this week with the ailing, imprisoned former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

“The United States continues to be deeply concerned by the treatment of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conditions of her confinement,” said Ambassador John F. Tefft and Thomas O. Melia, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

They met with Mrs. Tymoshenko for about 30 minutes Monday and conveyed “messages of concern” from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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