- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

DENMARK

Military chief quits over leaks

COPENHAGEN | Denmark’s military chief of staff said Sunday that he would resign to restore the public’s confidence in the country’s defense, an apparent reference to a scandal surrounding a book disclosing Danish military secrets.

Tim Sloth Joergensen had come under fire after it was disclosed that defense information technology chief Jesper Britze was behind an Arabic translation of the controversial book “Ranger - At War With The Elite” that was sent to Danish media.

The book was written by former special forces soldier Thomas Rathsack and describes a Danish elite army’s missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The armed forces tried unsuccessfully to stop it from being published, saying it would be a threat to forces operating abroad.

Among other things, Defense Minister Soeren Gade said the Arabic translation could give Taliban tips about how to target Danish troops in Afghanistan.

ITALY

Houses planned for mudslide victims

ROME | Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised Sunday to build new houses for the victims of massive mudslides in Sicily that killed at least 22 people and left more than 500 homeless.

Mr. Berlusconi visited the devastated area around the eastern coastal city of Messina and met with survivors who were being housed in area hotels.

He promised them the government would build new houses - complete with sheets, flowers and a week’s worth of groceries - just as it did for the survivors of an April 6 earthquake in central Italy.

He noted that the first such houses were given over to L’Aquila quake victims five months after the earthquake struck.

Rivers of mud tore down the mountainside and flooded parts of Messina and surrounding towns Thursday night and Friday morning, killing 22 people and leaving an additional 40 still unaccounted for.

BELGIUM

Sainthood celebrated for priest to lepers

TREMELO | Belgian royals and government officials joined the bishop of Honolulu at a Mass on Sunday to celebrate a 19th-century local hero, a week before he will become a saint for his work with lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

The Mass began an overcast fall day of celebrations and fireworks that lured 20,000 people to this town of 14,000, just northeast of Brussels, where Jozef De Veuster was born in 1840. Better known as Father Damien, the Roman Catholic priest from Belgium cared for leprosy victims on Molokai, an island in the Hawaiian archipelago, from 1873 to 1889, when the disease killed him.

The Catholic Church agreed to elevate him to sainthood after saying Audrey Toguchi of Aiea, Oahu, was cured of terminal cancer after she prayed to Damien and he interceded on her behalf. The church said there was no medical explanation for the woman’s recovery.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to preside over Damien’s canonization. The late priest was beatified - a step toward sainthood - in 1995 by Pope John Paul II. Eleven elderly Hawaii leprosy patients will be at the Vatican to watch the canonization.

RUSSIA

Falling population expected to continue

MOSCOW | Russia’s population has fallen by 6.6 million since 1993, despite the influx of millions of immigrants, a U.N. report said Monday, and by 2025 the country could lose a further 11 million people.

The result could be labor shortages, an aging population and slower economic growth, the United Nations said.

Recent Kremlin efforts to reward women for having more babies have caused a surge in the birth rate, the report said, but won’t make much difference in the long term.

It urged Russia to reduce its high mortality rate - similar to that in parts of sub-Saharan Africa - through reform of its public health system and by encouraging lifestyle changes, including a reduction in alcohol consumption.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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