- - Sunday, March 20, 2011


Polar bear Knut mourned at zoo

BERLIN | Hundreds of fans of Knut the polar bear flocked to his zoo enclosure Sunday to mourn the sudden death of the celebrity who burst into the limelight as a cuddly, fluffy cub hand-fed by his keeper.

The beloved 4-year-old died Saturday afternoon in front of hundreds of visitors, taking keepers, animal experts and fans by surprise. The life expectancy of polar bear in the wild is 15 to 20 years, but animals in captivity normally live even longer because they are not exposed to hunger, thirst or infections.

“I can’t comprehend what happened there. He was happy before, there were no signs of anything — it’s so shocking,” said fan Eveline Litowski, who said she had come to the zoo to find out more about Knut’s death.

Ms. Litowski was among those who crowded around Knut’s empty compound Sunday, laying down red roses and white stuffed polar bears, lighting candles or putting up pictures of Knut with personal messages for him. Many children had drawn pictures of Knut or written farewell poems for their beloved bear.

Knut was rejected by his mother at birth, along with his twin brother, who survived only a couple of days. He attracted attention when his main caregiver, Thomas Doerflein, camped out at the zoo to give the button-eyed cub his bottle every two hours.


Cyprus against use of British bases for Libya

LIMASSOL | Cyprus said Sunday it opposed any use of British bases on the island to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya but conceded it has no power to stop their involvement.

Britain has two sovereign military bases on Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean that is a former colony.

A command center to coordinate the movement of British assets over Libya has been set up at a Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri, on the southern coast of the island.

“Unfortunately, these bases are sovereign and can be used merely with Britain issuing an advisory [to Cyprus]. We have given the message to Britain that we do not wish for these bases to be used, that we are against that,” Cypriot President Demetris Christofias told reporters.


Official denies isolation over Libya coalition

BERLIN | German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday dismissed allegations that Berlin is internationally isolated after refusing to join its NATO allies in staging military strikes on Libya.

Germany abstained Thursday in the U.N. Security Council vote authorizing the action, breaking ranks with the United States, France and Britain, joining China and Russia instead.

“The impression that Germany is isolated in Europe or the international community is completely wrong. Many other countries in the European Union not only understand our position, not only respect it, but also share it,” he told a news conference.

Asked which EU countries shared Berlin’s policy, Mr. Westerwelle named Poland.

The government’s decision to opt out of any military action in Libya has drawn furious criticism at home. One newspaper accused Berlin of siding with dictators rather than its most important NATO allies, and on Sunday a senior politician within the ruling coalition questioned the decision to abstain.

Mr. Westerwelle said 7,000 German troops were on foreign missions, including 5,000 in Afghanistan. “We are meeting our international obligations,” he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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