- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

INDONESIA

‘Black magic’ worker puts hex on Bush

BOGOR — A prominent Indonesian “black magic” practitioner joined protests yesterday against President Bush’s visit, slaughtering animals as he cast a spell aimed at disrupting the stay.

The ritual by Ki Gendeng Pamungkas took place at a busy traffic circle in this hill town that is to host talks between Mr. Bush and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday. Mr. Pamungkas said the ritual, which involved killing a snake, a crow and a goat, used “Haitian-style voodoo” because “Indonesian black magic does not work on foreigners.”

The witch doctor offered prayers to “Satan, who will bring disasters on Bush’s visit … My curse will make him bloat like broccoli. Bush will feel unease during the visit,” he said. Asked if he was confident the hex would work, Mr. Pamungkas said: “I’ve put voodoo curses on white men in Indonesia before, and they all died.”

JAPAN

House passes bill on teaching patriotism

TOKYO — The lower house of Japan’s national Diet passed a bill yesterday requiring schools to teach patriotism — a taboo since World War II — despite an opposition boycott and street protests by liberals.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a conservative who wants Japan to shed some of the taboos linked to its World War II defeat, has made school reform his signature legislative issue since taking office in late September.

“The postwar education system, based on the principle of equal opportunity, contributed greatly to improving the educational level of the Japanese people,” said Mr. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after World War II. The bill calls on teachers to instill thinking among students “respecting tradition and culture, and loving the nation and homeland.”

PHILIPPINES

Canadian team probes purported rights abuses

MANILA — A team of Canadian activists arrived in the Philippines yesterday to investigate what it said was an “alarming deterioration of human rights” in the country.

The nine-member fact-finding team composed of lawyers, trade unionists, community leaders and human rights advocates will examine cases of extrajudicial killings, and attacks on political and trade union groups, among other human rights abuses.

On Wednesday, an Asian human rights group condemned the Philippine government for “abject failure” to investigate extrajudicial killings and prosecute those involved. A report prepared by the Hong Kong Mission for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines said the government in Manila “is at best grossly failing to protect its citizens, and at worst may be complicit in an orchestrated campaign of targeted assassination.”

Weekly notes …

Wild and weird weather has hit Australia with a combination of drought, storms, bush fires, snow and record low temperatures, baffling a population usually heading for the beach at this time of year. Icy winds shrieking up from the South Pole had Sydney residents shivering on the way to work yesterday as the country’s most populous city recorded its coldest overnight November temperature in more than a century. The mercury fell to 47 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest since November 1905. … Tonga’s government bowed to a wave of violent pro-democracy protests late yesterday and agreed to political reforms in the South Pacific island kingdom, local press reported. “The main shopping center is burned out in blocks, including the prime minister’s own shopping center. They looted that, started drinking the beer, and from there, no one could control them,” said Mateni Tapueluelu of Radio New Zealand International.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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