- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

BRITAIN

First death reported from flu pandemic

LONDON | A person has died of swine flu at a hospital in Scotland in the first death from the illness reported in Britain, officials said Sunday.

It also was the first death from the H5N1 strain of influenza reported outside the Americas by the World Health Organization in Geneva or the European Centers for Disease Control in Stockholm, which keep tabs on confirmed cases of swine flu and deaths from the illness in countries around the world.

Scotland’s government said the patient suffering from swine flu died at a hospital there. It said the patient was one of 10 people being treated for the influenza at the facility.

“The patient had underlying health conditions,” the government statement said, without further explanation.

IRAQ

Contractors moved to American custody

BAGHDAD | Two American contractors were transferred Sunday from Iraqi custody to U.S. custody, the U.S. Embassy said, stressing that Iraqi authorities requested the move in line with a security pact that took effect this year.

The men have been held since June 3 when they were detained with three other Americans by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces as part of an investigation into the stabbing death of a fellow contractor.

The other three have been released on bond.

The five have been cleared of any link to James Kitterman’s killing, but face an ongoing investigation into unrelated charges.

MYANMAR

Celebrities tweet for Suu Kyi birthday

BANGKOK | Hollywood star Julia Roberts and detained Chinese activists are among celebrities and political prisoners tweeting and signing petitions for the release of Myanmar’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as she approaches her 64th birthday - her 14th spent in detention - organizers said Sunday.

Mrs. Suu Kyi will spend her 64th birthday Friday in Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, facing charges of violating terms of her house arrest by harboring an American who swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

The ruling junta is widely expected to deliver a guilty verdict, which could put the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in prison for up to five years. She has already spent more than 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.

“We must not stand by as she is silenced again. Now is the time for the international community to speak with one voice,” Miss Roberts wrote as part of a campaign - “64 words for Aung San Suu Kyi” - organized by a coalition of human rights and activist groups.

Actress Demi Moore, actor Kevin Spacey, artist Yoko Ono and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were among other participants.

VATICAN

Pope sees chance to fight hunger

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI called on Sunday for world leaders to use the economic crisis as an opportunity to tackle rising poverty and hunger, ahead of a United Nations summit this month.

Policymakers from around the globe will gather in New York on June 24 for a two-day U.N. summit on the financial crisis and its impact on development.

“In the spirit of wisdom and human solidarity, I urge participants at the conference … to transform the crisis into an opportunity for greater attention to the dignity of every human and a fairer distribution of power and resources,” the pope said in a weekly address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

YEMEN

Detainee called top al Qaeda financier

SAN’A | Yemen has arrested a Saudi man suspected of financing al Qaeda cells in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, an Interior Ministry official said Sunday.

The official, who did not give an exact date of the arrest, said that authorities captured “the biggest and the most influential” money provider for al Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Hassan Hussein Bin Alwan, a Saudi, was in charge of financing attacks in the two neighboring countries, added the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

The announcement indicated that al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are still actively attempting to destabilize the Saudi monarchy that holds a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, as well as neighboring Yemen, the region’s poorest nation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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