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Embassy Row: Cries over Kali
Question of the Day
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.
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.
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.
Mr. Tefft and Mr. Melia added that the United States continues to call for the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and other members of her former government. She was convicted last year of abuse of power and sentenced to seven years in prison in a trial the United States and other Western nations have criticized as politically motivated.
Mrs. Tymoshenko, the 51-year-old leader of the pro-democracy 2004-05 Orange Revolution, was transferred last week from prison to a state hospital for treatment for back pains. She also had been on a hunger strike.
She is being treated by a German specialist because, she said, she distrusts Ukrainian doctors.
“Moving her to the hospital for treatment by a specialist is a welcome first step in this direction.”
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email email@example.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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