- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

BRITAIN

Brown discloses damage to eye

LONDON | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown disclosed Saturday that an eye examination showed two tears in his right retina - a revelation that could embolden critics who want him to step down before a national election.

The prime minister’s office moved quickly to quash speculation over Mr. Brown’s health, issuing the statement only one day after a regular examination at a London eye hospital. Mr. Brown’s office said his eyesight remained unchanged and that no operations were planned to address the situation.

“Were there to be any change, he would of course make a further statement,” Mr. Brown’s office said.

Mr. Brown, who lost the use of his left eye in a sporting accident when he was a teenager and had surgery to save his sight in the other one, has been dogged by questions about his eyesight in recent months.

During a visit to the United States for the Group of 20 summit, he was forced to deny that he was slowly going blind.

DENMARK

Soros investing $1 billion in green

COPENHAGEN | Billionaire George Soros said Saturday he would invest $1 billion in clean energy technology as part of an effort to combat climate change.

The Hungarian-born U.S. investor also announced that he would form and fund a new climate policy initiative with $10 million a year for 10 years. “Global warming is a political problem,” Mr. Soros told a meeting of editors in the Danish capital, where governments are scheduled to meet in December to try to hammer out a new global climate agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

“The science is clear; what is less clear is whether world leaders will demonstrate the political will necessary to solve the problem,” he said, according to an e-mail statement.

His remarks came a day after climate talks in Bangkok ended in deadlock over how much cash should be made available to poorer nations to help them cope with climate change and over the size of rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

IRAQ

Hundreds protest against government

BAGHDAD | Hundreds took to the streets Saturday throughout Iraq to demand open elections and improved public services, revealing a growing discontent among Iraqis that is overshadowing concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to take over from withdrawing U.S. troops.

Low oil prices have left the Iraqi government struggling to restore infrastructure after years of neglect, corruption and insurgent attacks, as well as to rebuild their security forces before a planned U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

About 200 demonstrators took to the streets in central Baghdad, chanting: “No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers,” a reference to Iraq’s ancient name.

The lack of clean water and electricity have proven to be a leading issue in January’s national elections for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has campaigned on the issue of improved security.

SAUDI ARABIA

U.N. aid shipment to refugees halted

ALB | Yemeni and Saudi officials stopped a U.N. aid shipment destined for refugees from fighting between Yemeni troops and Shi’ite rebels Saturday, unable to agree on border procedures.

Three trucks laden with tents, mattresses, soap and other necessities were halted by a dispute over how to transfer the goods from Saudi trucks to Yemeni trucks at the border.

This delayed for at least another day the delivery of much-needed humanitarian supplies for 3,000 hard-struck Yemenis sandwiched between the Saudi border and the center of fighting further into Saada province.

Overall, an estimated 55,000 or more Yemenis have been displaced since the fighting erupted Aug. 11 between the Shi’ite Muslim Zaidis, also known as the Huthis, and the government of the Sunni-dominated state.

BRITAIN

Dozens arrested in Manchester

LONDON | Police in fluorescent jackets stood between hundreds of anti-Islam protesters and ant-racist counterdemonstrators in the English city of Manchester on Saturday, arresting 48 people in a bid to keep the peace.

Police locked down a section of the city center as about 2,000 people gathered. Most of those arrested, all men, were suspected of public order offenses. Several people suffered minor injuries in sporadic scuffles.

“The presence of so many protesters in the city has proved a challenge, and while many have turned out to protest peacefully, the police reaction has been necessary in order to prevent the few hell-bent on violent confrontation,” Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said.

A group called the English Defense League, which says it opposes militant Islam, squared off against a larger group of counterdemonstrators from the group Unite Against Fascism.

NICARAGUA

Government fires 12,000 workers

MANAGUA | A Nicaraguan union leader on Saturday condemned the firing of 12,000 state employees last week as a political purge, but which the government said was a bid to cut costs.

Alvaro Leiva, leader of the Democratic Federation of Public Service Workers, told La Prensa newspaper that the layoffs were an exercise in “retaliation and discrimination.”

The workers being fired were those who had “refused to join” the ruling Sandinista party, led by President Daniel Ortega, he said, adding that they were being replaced with people with closer ties to the government.

The Labor Ministry declined to comment when contacted by Agence France-Presse, but Gustavo Porras, head of the pro-government National Workers Front organization, said the fired employees had been involved in corruption.

VATICAN CITY

Pope to canonize Hawaiian man

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday will canonize five new saints, including a man who dedicated his life to lepers in Hawaii and another considered one of the greatest mystics of the 20th century.

Tens of thousands of worshippers are expected to attend the Mass in St. Peter’s Square, in which the pope will also canonize Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879) of France, who founded the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Jozef Damian de Veuster (1840-1889) of Belgium moved to Molokai in Hawaii at the end of the 19th century, where he became known as “the lepers’ apostle” for living on a colony for 16 years until he died of the disease.

Also to be canonized are Polish Archbishop Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski (1822-1895) and two Spanish monks - a Dominican, Francisco Coll y Guitart (1812-1875) and a Trappist, Rafael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938).

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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