Protests halt Tata plant for world's cheapest car
MUMBAI, India: This country's project to build the world's cheapest car has driven into a quintessentially Indian ditch.
On Tuesday, the automaker Tata Motors said that political protests over land had compelled it to stop building the plant in eastern India for its much-awaited Nano model. The car was scheduled to go on sale next month for 100,000 rupees, or about $2,250, less than the cost of the optional surround sound system and DVD player on the Lexus LX 570 sport utility vehicle.
Late Tuesday, an executive with knowledge of Tata's deliberations said the company would still begin making Nanos in October, under a backup plan to shift production to other sites. For the first two months, Tata will produce 10,000 cars a month instead of the planned 40,000, said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company.
The Nano has been dogged from the beginning by one of India's most wrenching problems: how to create space for industry by moving farmers off their land and compensating them adequately.
LETTER FROM CANADA
Ontario wrestles to revamp mining law
SOUTH FRONTENAC, Ontario: When Peter Griesbach discovered someone had chopped down trees at his weekend house to make crude posts staking out a mining claim, he assumed he could rid his land of the uninvited prospector relatively quickly. He was wrong.
Indeed, seven years later Griesbach is still campaigning to change the provincial law that allows anyone who pays the equivalent of $26.50 to dig for pretty much any mineral on private property in much of rural Ontario.
Historically high mineral prices have set off a new wave of prospecting in Canada, and with it new battles over mineral laws, some of which date to the 19th century. Under the so-called free entry system, effective in much of Ontario, prospectors and miners have had relatively unfettered access to private land in many areas.
Now, after decades of promises to modify the law from successive governments, Griesbach and other landowners may finally find some measure of relief.
After a highly publicized clash between an Indian tribe and a mining company this year, which led to the jailing of one native leader, Ontario's government said it would alter the law by December. But change is so controversial that even the broad details of any modification will not be worked out for some time.
Venice Film Festival: Devastated cultures that refuse to surrender
VENICE: The "Birdwatchers" of the Chilean-born Marco Bechis's in-competition film are the well-heeled seekers after exotic flora and fauna, who come on visits to a comfortable ranch in Amazonia on the edge of a tract of "virgin" forest, through which a river lazily meanders, the natives appearing picturesquely on the banks.
The tourists are themselves mere birds of passage, disinclined to look too closely at the havoc created in the region by the more sustained intrusion of outsiders. The members of the Guaraní-Kaiowá tribe glimpsed from the tourist motorboat are a handful of the few thousand of their people who survive, of the estimated 1.5 million that once inhabited this region.
Such is the relentless appropriation of their lands that the token remaining parcels of forest can no longer support their traditional way of life, which was once renewably sustained by hunting and fishing. Just about the only work available to the indigenous people here is the scandalously underpaid cutting of cane, increasingly used for Brazil's supposedly supergreen biofuels industry - and in this respect the film is as much about us as it is about them.
A brilliant and subtle example of filmmaking that paints a powerful, although not exactly optimistic, picture of human resilience and dignity, "Birdwatchers" emerged as a front-runner for the Golden Lion midway through Venice's film festival (which ends on Saturday). Made mostly in the Guaraní language, it puts the Guaraní - all of them amateur actors - center stage, the white professional performers being always on the periphery, always the interlopers in this paradise lost.
Neither sanitizing nor romanticizing its subject, the story is set against the background of the chronic problem of suicide among the Guaraní - more than 500 have killed themselves in the last two decades. When two more young people hang themselves, the chief of the group, Nádio (Ambrósio Vilhalva), takes the decision to leave their squalid "reservation" and reoccupy ancestral land on the nearby ranch. We follow them, gradually drawn into their lives and remarkable culture, and begin to understand what is being irrevocably lost.
U.N. says North Korea needs millions in food aid
BEIJING: North Korea needs $503 million (281 million pounds) in food aid between now and November 2009 to avoid famine, which could be hampered by China's unwillingness to grant food export licences, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
Tony Banbury, the WFP's regional director for Asia who has just spent a week in the reclusive country, said North Korea risked sliding back into famine if it did not get help now, with people already resorting to foraging to sustain themselves.
"We don't believe it's a famine. We are intent on making sure it doesn't turn into one. The operation will have a huge impact in preventing a worsening of the situation," he told a news conference in Beijing, referring to their new aid appeal.
North Korea, with a population of about 23 million, lost around 1 million people in a famine in the mid to late 1990s brought about by a mismanaged farm sector and floods.
Even with a good harvest, North Korea falls about 1 million tonnes, or 20 percent, short of its grain needs and relies heavily on aid from China, South Korea and United Nations agencies.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in late March it expects North Korea to have a shortfall of about 1.66 million tonnes in cereals for the year ending in October 2008, the largest deficit in about seven years.
The WFP warned in July that North Korea was experiencing its worst levels of hunger in nearly a decade.
High global food prices are also making it harder for North Korea to buy food on the international market, as are China's restrictions on export licences for grains and flour in order to control domestic inflation.
"China's priority is feeding its own population," said Anthea Webb, the WFP's China director. "We acknowledge that they already send bilateral food aid from China to North Korea, and we appreciate that, but our own operation there has a tremendous need."
She added that the WFP had spoken to Chinese officials about the problem, and "they are considering it".
Political problems too could hamper aid appeals for North Korea, which last month said it would stop disabling a key nuclear complex, blaming the United States for not keeping to its side of a disarmament-for-aid deal.
South Korea has already halted direct shipments of rice because of tensions with its neighbour.
Banbury said he hoped donors would put politics to one side. North Korea was being much more open than in the past, in a measure of the seriousness of the situation, granting unprecedented access to monitor deliveries, he added.
Monitoring problems and fears food was being diverted to the powerful military have halted aid programmes in the past.
"The government is giving us very good cooperation," Banbury said. "The WFP of course continues to apply our age-old policy of no access, no food. That hasn't been a problem."
Beyond carbon: Scientists worry about nitrogen's effects
Public discussion of complicated climate change is largely reduced to carbon: carbon emissions, carbon footprints, carbon trading. But other chemicals have large roles in the planet's health, and the one Giblin is looking for in Arctic mud, one that a growing number of other researchers are also concentrating on, is nitrogen.
In addition to having a role in climate change, nitrogen has a huge, probably more important biological impact through its presence in fertilizer. Peter Vitousek, a Stanford ecologist whose 1994 essay put nitrogen on the environmental map, co-authored a study this summer in the journal Nature that put greater attention on the nitrogen cycle and warned against ignoring it in favor of carbon benefits.
For example, Vitousek said in an interview, "There's a great danger in doing something like, oh, overfertilizing a cornfield to boost biofuel consumption, where the carbon benefits are far outweighed by the nitrogen damage."
Soon after Vitousek's report, the journal Geophysical Research Letters branded as a "missing greenhouse gas" nitrogen trifluoride, which is used in production of semiconductors and in liquid-crystal displays found in many electronics. According to the report, it causes more global warming than coal-fired plants. Nitrogen trifluoride, which is not one of the six gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, the celebrated international global warming accord, is about 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Its estimated worldwide release into the atmosphere this year is equivalent to the total global-warming emissions from Austria.
"The nitrogen dilemma," Vitousek added, "is not just thinking that carbon is all that matters. But also thinking that global warming is the only environmental issue. The weakening of biodiversity, the pollution of rivers, these are local issues that need local attention. Smog. Acid rain. Coasts. Forests. It's all nitrogen."
Vitousek's summer report followed a similar account in May in the journal Science by James N. Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia and a former chairman of the International Nitrogen Initiative, a group of scientists pushing for smarter use of nitrogen.
Galloway is developing a universal calculator for individual nitrogen footprints. "It's Goldilocks's problem," he said in an interview. "Reactive nitrogen isn't a waste product. We need it desperately. Just not too much and not too little. It's just more complicated than carbon." He continued, "But we're not going to get anywhere telling people this is simple or easy."
Giblin of Woods Hole spent the summer at the field station here, midway between the Arctic Circle and the Arctic Ocean, researching the nitrogen content of lakebed sediment — not the inert nitrogen that makes up 80 percent of air, the reactive nitrogen that Galloway referred to. In forms like nitric acid, nitrous oxide, ammonia and nitrate it plays a variety of roles.
Nitrogen is part of all living matter. When plants and animals die, their nitrogen is passed into soil and the nitrogen in the soil, in turn, nourishes plants on land and seeps into bodies of water. Giblin is pursuing her research because as the Arctic warms, the tundra's permafrost will thaw, and the soil will release carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere.
When an ecosystem has too much nitrogen, the first response is that life blossoms. More fish, more plants, more everything. But this quickly becomes a kind of nitrogen cancer. Waters cloud and are overrun with foul-smelling algae blooms that can cause toxic "dead zones." Scientists call this process eutrophication, but the laymen's translation is that the water gets mucked up beyond all recognition. A recent such plague bedeviled China when its Yellow Sea was smothered in algae at Qingdao, the planned site of Olympic sailing events this summer. More than mere inconvenience, such problems routinely threaten many coastal areas and riverside communities.
Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, is known as Queen of the Dead Zone. She cruises around the Gulf of Mexico every summer in the research vessel Pelican to look for damage from nitrogen-rich river flows into the gulf. This year, she expects a dead zone that will beat the Massachusetts-size 8,500-square-mile bloom of 2002.
For U.S. airlines, no end in sight to fuel cost struggles
While less destructive than Katrina, Gustav nevertheless reminded the industry of Katrina's painful impact. Within days of that storm, jet fuel prices spiked by 50 cents a gallon to $2.42, then a record. Within two weeks, both Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Those prices look relatively cheap compared with those today. The average price for jet fuel last week was $3.32 a gallon, according to the Department of Energy.
The price of jet fuel peaked in July at $4.27, prompting airlines to take a series of drastic measures that are affecting travelers.
Airlines also said on Monday night that they were monitoring Hurricane Hanna, the next storm that could disrupt air travel.
Over the next few months, carriers are grounding aging planes, and trimming flights and routes from their schedules, reducing the number of overall seats they fly by about 8 to 10 percent.
They are betting that fewer flights and seats means they will be able to charge more for plane tickets, helping them to recover from a year that may yet bring the biggest losses in the industry's history.
United Airlines was the first to test the new environment last week. It raised domestic fares $5 to $10, said a spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski, citing higher costs for jet fuel compared with last year.
It was the first time since July that an airline tried a fare increase, and in fact, many airlines have been offering fare sales for travel through Thanksgiving. But with seats in demand through the new year, fares for year-end travel are climbing.
The easiest route to fare increases this year has been through fuel surcharges. Of the 22 attempts the airlines have made to raise ticket prices, 15 have been successful, according to FareCompare.com, a Web site that tracks airfares. Of those, 11 increases have been labeled fuel surcharges.
The surcharges add tens to hundreds of dollars to the price of a ticket.
A year ago, surcharges on domestic tickets averaged $20; now, the highest surcharge on a domestic ticket is $170 round trip, said Rick Seaney, who runs FareCompare.com. Surcharges on travel to Europe average $340 round trip and the average to Asia is $365 round trip, he said.
"The implication is that it's temporary in nature until fuel prices drop. I don't expect to see many changes on fuel surcharges before oil drops to $90 a barrel," Seaney said.
Security official fired after Corsican protest ensnares a Sarkozy friend
PARIS: A senior French security official has been fired after Corsican nationalists invaded the vacation villa of a French actor who is close to President Nicolas Sarkozy. The case has drawn accusations of inappropriate interference by the president.
On Monday, Dominique Rossi was dismissed from his post as coordinator of internal security services on the Mediterranean island of Corsica after accusations he had advance warning of the protest but allowed it to go ahead, a government source said.
The comic actor, Christian Clavier, has starred in a string of box-office hits and played Asterix in two of the Gallic hero's film adventures. His Corsican villa was invaded by protesters Saturday evening in a protest against the "colonization" of the island by vacationers from the French mainland.
Clavier, who was not present, was alerted by his staff. He asked that drinks be served to the demonstrators, who left peaceably after about 20 minutes.
The comedian is close to Sarkozy and was one of a select group invited to the chic Paris restaurant Fouquet's on the night of Sarkozy's 2007 election victory.
François Bayrou, a centrist politician who ran against Sarkozy, accused the president of favoring his friends. "It says a lot about the regime we're in," he told France Info radio. "It's a ruling from on high. These are arbitrary and disproportionate decisions which show where you get to when all powers are concentrated in the same hands."
The Élysée Palace declined to comment, but an Interior Ministry spokesman said the decision to transfer Rossi to the national police force's internal inspectorate had been taken by Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie.
The spokesman, Gérard Gachet, said the decision had been taken because of "an error in judgement by Mr. Dominique Rossi" in deciding against intervening when security services knew that an occupation was likely. He denied it had anything to do with Sarkozy's friendship with the actor.
A police union official, Emmanuel Roux, said Rossi, a highly respected and experienced officer, had acted appropriately and should not have been fired. If Rossi had sent in heavy police forces, the demonstrators could have reacted violently, he said.
Sarkozy visit to consolidate ties with Syria
DAMASCUS/PARIS: Syria hosts French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, consolidating a return to the international fold helped by its peace talks with Israel and support for reconciliation in Lebanon.
Sarkozy, the first Western head of state to pay an official visit to Syria for at least three years, hopes to use the visit to encourage Syria's diplomatic relations with Lebanon and offer Damascus an alternative to its close alliance with Iran.
"Obviously, talking to Syria ... does not guarantee that Damascus will distance itself from Tehran, and we are not asking for that," a French official close to Sarkozy said.
"What we think is that by offering Syria a choice, then the choice becomes possible ... The moment that Syria renews ties, through France, with Europe, maybe with the West, and we hope with its Arab environment, then one can imagine that evolutions will become possible," the official told reporters in Paris.
He said Sarkozy would also ask Assad to use those ties with Tehran to urge Iran to cooperate with major powers over its nuclear programme, which Western countries say could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says the programme is peaceful.
Half a million are stranded by India flood
NEW DELHI: Half a million victims remain stranded after last week's floods in northern India destroyed hundreds of rural villages. Aid workers say food and drinkable water are running out in overcrowded camps that house thousands of displaced farmers and their families.
Many flood victims in remote corners of Bihar, one of India's poorest and most populous states, have gone without food for days, government officials and aid workers said. They may have to wait in trees and on rooftops for several more days before help arrives. Meanwhile, aid workers worry that at any time contagious diseases could break out in the makeshift refugee camps, where a quarter million people are living.
"The enormity of the problem is stupendous," Mukesh Puri, an emergency specialist with the United Nations Children's Fund, said in a telephone interview from Patna, the capital of Bihar, on Monday night. Unicef is dispatching public health teams, distributing rehydrating salts and water purification tablets, and setting up maternity huts for the dozens of pregnant women coming into the camps, he said.
Some officials say the eventual death toll will reach into the thousands. So far the official count by the Bihar government is fewer than 100.
Evacuated New Orleans residents told to stay away after Gustav passes
As of Tuesday morning, 1.4 million households in Louisiana were without power, with most of the power failures - about 300,000 - concentrated in the New Orleans area, Governor Bobby Jindal said in a televised news conference.
In an interview on NBC on Tuesday morning, Mayor C. Ray Nagin said the city had "dodged a bullet," but urged residents eager to return to wait for at least another day.
"We're in pretty decent shape, but right now we have power outages, we need to repair our sewage system, and the hospitals are still not ready," he said. "So today, we'll spend all day repairing, assessing and then we'll start the re-entry process tomorrow."
LVMH enters luxury yacht market
PARIS: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the largest luxury-goods maker, said Tuesday that it had agreed to buy Royal van Lent, a 160-year-old maker of custom-designed yachts from the Dutch investment company Egeria.
Royal van Lent, based in the Netherlands, designs and builds to order yachts over 50 meters, or 165 feet, a market that has grown 20 percent a year since 2000, Paris-based LVMH said in a statement.
The company's luxury yachts sell for an average of €30 million, or $44 million, each.
The swelling ranks of the very poor
There is a lot more poverty in the world than previously thought.
The World Bank reported in August that in 2005, there were 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line - that is, living on less than $1.25 a day.
That is more than a quarter of the developing world's population and 430 million more people living in extreme poverty than previously estimated.
The World Bank warned that the number is unlikely to drop below one billion before 2015.
The poverty estimate soared after a careful study of the prices people in developing countries pay for goods and services revealed that the World Bank had been grossly underestimating the cost of living in the poorest nations for decades.
As a result, it was grossly overestimating the ability of people to buy things. And the new research doesn't account for the soaring prices of energy and food in the past two years.
The poverty expressed in the World Bank's measure is so abject that it is hard for citizens of the industrial world to comprehend. The new count underscores how much more the developed world needs to do to help the world's most vulnerable people.
It should also serve as a jarring reminder to the leaders of the world's much-touted new economic powers - India and China - about the inequities growing amid their growing wealth. Forty-two percent of India's people live below the World Bank's poverty line, as do 16 percent of China's.
The new data confirm the primary role that economic growth must play in lifting millions out of poverty. Fast growth slashed the number of Chinese living in extreme poverty by three-fourths in less than 25 years. Achieving broad-based growth will not be easy.
India, which has more people in extreme poverty than it did 25 years ago, must reform its farm sector to increase dismal productivity and broaden its narrow economic expansion. Sub-Saharan Africa - where 50 percent of the people live below the poverty line - requires stability, above all, to encourage investment. All developing countries must invest more in education.
There's still a big supporting role for rich countries. Last year, development aid from the Group of 8 industrialized nations amounted to $62 billion - far below the $92 billion that was promised to be delivered by 2010. We hope the World Bank's new poverty count finally shames the Group of 8 into keeping that promise.
Bipartisan calls for new federal poverty measure
WASHINGTON: Congressional lawmakers and officials of some cities are increasingly calling for an overhaul in the way the federal government measures poverty, arguing that the current definition fails to reflect fully the hardships or resources available to struggling Americans.
The current measure — which is used to calculate the nation's annual poverty rate — has remained virtually unchanged since it was developed in the 1960s. Democrats and Republicans alike say it is hopelessly outdated, and initiatives to provide a more accurate portrait of the nation's most vulnerable people have begun cropping up across the country.
This month, Representative Jim McDermott, the Democrat from Washington who is the chairman of the House subcommittee on income security, plans to introduce legislation that would require the government to develop a more modern and accurate method to determine who is poor. Representative Jerry Weller, Republican of Illinois, introduced a bill last year.
Meanwhile, New York City has developed its own measure and is offering advice and technical assistance to several cities that are considering similar plans, including Chicago and Los Angeles. Also in the coming weeks, New York officials plan to brief others from across the country at a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles.
Congressional aides say they do not expect the legislation to pass this year. Nor do they expect that the White House, which currently determines how poverty is measured, will be swayed by the city initiatives. But pressure is mounting, and city and congressional officials hope the efforts will bear fruit in the coming year.
Getting a new poverty measurement will help us identify appropriate policies and measure the success of the policies we have," said Sophia Heller, policy director for economic development for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
"It's something we're really, really interested in," said Heller, who is consulting with New York officials as Los Angeles considers developing its own poverty measure. "You've got to know what the problem is to address it effectively."
Her comments came after the Census Bureau announced last week that the nation's poverty rate remained flat, at 12.5 percent, from 2006 to 2007. Median household income rose by 1.3 percent in 2007, to $50,233, the third consecutive annual increase.
President George W. Bush praised that report, saying it "confirms that more of our citizens are doing better in this economy, with continued rising incomes and more Americans pulling themselves out of poverty."
But economists said the statistics did not reflect the economic downturn that began late last year and might not reflect the struggles of Americans coping with foreclosures, job losses and high gas prices.
The nation's economic woes have intensified interest in addressing poverty and measuring it more accurately. But concerns about the federal measure have been percolating for more than a decade.
The current measure was developed in the 1960s by Mollie Orshansky, an economist with the Social Security Administration, who based her figures on a 1955 Department of Agriculture study. That study estimated that poor Americans spent about a third of their after-tax money on food.
Orshansky decided that a family was not poor if its income equaled three times the annual cost of basic groceries. They were poor if they fell below that threshold.
Today, however, families typically spend about one-seventh of their income on food, census officials say. Families spend much more on housing, transportation and child care, expenses that are not taken into account by the federal poverty measure. (The measure has remained unchanged aside from adjustments for price increases over time.)
Officials also point out that the current measure only counts cash as income. They say a more accurate model would include government assistance like food stamps, housing subsidies and tax credits. Such aid has been devised to help support the poor, but its impact is not calculated by the current measure.
"We have done a whole number of things to help low-income families, and it doesn't show up in the poverty figures," said Rebecca Blank, an economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Therefore, we misinterpret the effect of these policies."
In the 1990s, Blank and scholars at the National Academy of Sciences recommended making changes to the official measure. New York City used those recommendations to develop its own method of measuring poverty, which takes into account the cost of housing, child care and clothing and factors in government assistance.
Under the new model, the poverty rate in New York City increased to 23 percent as compared with the official level of 19 percent. Fewer people were deemed extremely poor because government aid was taken into consideration.
A new twist in the motherhood debate
It's the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition. But this time the battle lines are drawn inside out, with social conservatives, usually staunch advocates for stay-at-home motherhood, mostly defending her, while some others, including plenty of working mothers, worry that she is taking on too much.
"When I first heard about Palin, I was impressed," said Pamela Moore, a mother of two from Birmingham, Alabama. But upon reading that Palin's special-needs child was three days old when she went back to work, Moore began questioning the governor's judgment. Partly as a result, Moore plans to vote for Barack Obama.
Republicans largely rally around Palin
"Let me be as clear as possible," Obama said Monday. "I think people's families are off-limits and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."
But doubts persisted about how well McCain had investigated Palin's background and at how well, ultimately, their backgrounds would dovetail.
Uncomfortably for McCain, who had cast Palin as an ally in his fight against wasteful spending, The Washington Post reported that she helped obtain $27 million in special federal funding when she was mayor of the town of Wasilla - the sort of "earmark" McCain has railed against.
Bob Herbert: Head for the high road
The Democrats need to be careful about the intensity of their criticism of Sarah Palin.
Bill Clinton may be wildly unpredictable, but last Wednesday he was magnificent, laying out the challenges that will face the next administration.
"Our nation is in trouble on two fronts. The American dream is under siege at home, and America's leadership in the world has been weakened. Middle-class and low-income Americans are hurting - with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a very big spike in the cost of food, utilities and gasoline.
"And our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation, by a perilous dependence on imported oil, by a refusal to lead on global warming, by a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders, by a severely burdened military, by a backsliding on global nonproliferation and arms control agreements, and by a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe."
Pregnancy of Palin daughter interrupts Republican script
The Palins said that Bristol, who was named for Bristol Bay, the salmon fishery, would marry a man they identified only as Levi.
Friends said that Palin, a conservative Protestant and a member since 2006 of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group, knew when she was pregnant with Trig (said to be a Norse name for strength) that he had Down syndrome.
[IW: Palin's other children are called Piper and Willow]
Russia criticizes EU threat to postpone talks
The Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, called the EU rejection of sanctions on Russia a positive step, but he also faulted the EU, saying the bloc did understand Russian motives in Georgia.
"This is sad, but not fatal because things change in this world," he said.
On Tuesday, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "The partnership with the European Union should not be a hostage to the conflict" over Georgia.
"Russia has fulfilled all of its commitments, and we insist on the withdrawal of all Georgian troops to the barracks," the spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, said in Moscow.
He also said Georgia was rebuilding its armed forces for battle and was behind protests against Russian troops stationed in the country.
"There are attempts to restore the activity of Georgian troops," he said. Apparently referring to an anti-Russian demonstration Monday in the town of Karaleti, he said protestors were "targeting Russian troops.""We believe they were organized by Georgian special services," he added.
Alexander Lomaia, head of Georgia's Security Council, said Georgian troops were returning to some bases in accordance with the cease-fire.
Vladimir Chizhov, Russian envoy to the EU, said: "We are too interdependent" for the EU to impose sanctions. "Russia and the European Union are bound by destiny to be close partners."
Police break up protest in Russia's Ingushetia
NAZRAN, Russia: Police in the Russian region of Ingushetia used batons to break up an anti-government protest on Tuesday, a human rights campaigner said, two days after police shot dead an opposition leader.
Ingushetia lies next to Chechnya and North Ossetia at the heart of Russia's north Caucasus. Bombings, murders and police crackdowns have wracked Ingushetia over the last 12 months and analysts say the instability could spread.
The protest started during the funeral of Magomed Yevloyev, owner of opposition website www.ingushetiya.ru, who died on Sunday after being shot while in police custody.
Magomed Mutsolgov from the Ingushetia-based human rights group Mashr said police arrived at around 5:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. British time) to disperse a crowd of around 50 men who had been sleeping in the main square in Nazran, Ingushetia's biggest city.
Police and military vehicles were then deployed to block access to the main square, he said.
Rage in Kashmir meets India's brute force
SRINAGAR, India: The world's largest democracy locks up protest leaders without charge, shoots dozens of demonstrators dead, beats and intimidates ordinary citizens and raids homes without warrants.
Welcome to Indian Kashmir, where the biggest separatist protests in two decades have clashed with the might of the state.
"They are ruthless, trigger happy," said Ghulam Rasool Bhat, a labourer who says he was beaten by federal police after he tried to buy milk for his two nephews under a curfew in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.
He lay in a bed, both legs bandaged where a soldier, shouting "Get your milk from Pakistan" had smashed a rifle into his shins. His legs felt, he said, as if in a continuous cramp.
Police have shot dead at least 35 Muslim protesters in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley after a row over land for a Hindu shrine spiralled into marches and strikes against Indian rule.
Uighur policemen ambushed in possible retribution
BEIJING: Two police officers who were killed and five who were injured in an ambush in the far west of China last Wednesday were ethnic Uighurs searching for a woman suspected of involvement in earlier violence, a policeman in the village where the ambush took place said Tuesday.
The attackers were also Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic group common throughout the western autonomous region of Xinjiang. Brandishing knives, the attackers set upon a group of unarmed police officers as the officers were walking through a cornfield in Qizilboy village, said the policeman, who was interviewed by telephone, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had not been given permission to talk to reporters. The authorities gave few details at the time of the incident; the policeman's account is the fullest thus far.
It suggests that some of the recent violence in Xinjiang could be aimed at Uighurs seen by other Uighurs as collaborators with the ethnic Han Chinese, who make up the leadership of the Communist Party and govern Xinjiang. Many Uighurs resent rule by the Han Chinese and advocate greater political freedom and economic benefits or an independent Uighur-run nation. But some Uighurs have also benefited from policies put in place by the Communist Party, including many who work in the security forces or in the local government.
As throngs of protesters hit streets, dozens are arrested after clashes
ST. PAUL: Thousands of protesters, many of them demonstrating against the war in Iraq, marched on Monday through the streets outside the arena where the Republican National Convention is being held, with some smashing windows and battling with the police in clashes that led to more than 250 arrests.
Although most of the protesters were peaceful, the police used pepper spray and long wooden sticks to subdue some; several demonstrators also said police officers fired projectiles at them.
In one confrontation downtown, as several dozen demonstrators milled around and danced in the streets, police officers wearing helmets, padded vests and shin guards converged on the group. As the two sides faced off and tensions rose, the police squirted pepper spray into the crowd.
"I saw the cops shooting," said a man who gave his name as Jude Ortiz. Orange foam lay on the pavement, along with a red cloth object the size of a finger that contained beads.
A commander in the St. Paul Police Department, Doug Holtz, said he knew nothing about projectiles being used near Jackson Street, where one of the most intense confrontations took place.
Holtz said officers had fired "less lethal" 40-millimeter projectiles in a park near the Mississippi River, where he said demonstrators had thrown bottles and other objects at officers. He said 75 people or more had been arrested there.
These scenes from the first day of the Republican convention contrasted sharply with the more muted demonstrations at the Democratic convention in Denver last week. The protests Monday in St. Paul were much more pitched, and the number of protesters and police officers here was far greater.
At one point, a group of about 200 protesters — many wearing black bandannas across their faces and some wearing black balaclavas — roamed through downtown, shouting and chanting and throwing street signs and concrete planters in the road. At another point, a police officer grabbed one of the youths. Others wrested him away, then appeared to knock the officer to the ground. On one knee, the officer released an arc of pepper spray.
Elsewhere in St. Paul, a prominent Democratic Party strategist, Donna Brazile, was hit by pepper spray while trying to walk around protesters outside the convention hall, Brazile said in an interview.
"I got a strong whiff — just toxic — and my head and throat are still hurting," said Brazile, who appears on CNN as a political analyst. "I'll avoid the protesters tomorrow."
Along the highways leading to downtown, protesters stood on overpasses with signs demanding the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, war crimes charges against the Bush administration and new laws on equal pay.
In one of the most chaotic moments, members of the Republican delegation from Connecticut said they were shoved and spat upon by protesters near the convention hall, according to the state party's executive director, Heath Fahle. He wrote an item on the party's blog describing a "human chain" of protesters who tried to block Republicans at a security perimeter near the convention site. Besides the shoving and spitting, the protesters shouted epithets at the dozens of delegates, Fahle wrote.
As the protests grew, scores of National Guard troops in riot gear and gas masks fanned out around the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention is being held, and set up a blockade about three blocks away. Police helicopters buzzed over St. Paul throughout the day. Humvees painted in fatigue green ferried water to police officers working in the 88-degree heat, and city dump trucks were used to block traffic on some streets.
Republican officials said about 30 agencies were policing the city on Monday, including the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police Departments and the Ramsey County and Hennepin County Sheriff's Departments.
The clashes between the police and protesters were mostly sporadic. One of the largest of the demonstrations, which had a permit from the local authorities, began around 1 p.m. at the Minnesota Capitol and unfolded peacefully for the most part along the designated route.
Near the start of the march, two women and a young man secured themselves with chains to a car that obstructed traffic.
Just after 5 p.m., Jerah Plucker, 33, a documentary filmmaker from Minneapolis, called a reporter to say that he was among about 300 people surrounded by officers in the park along the banks of the Mississippi facing Harriet Island.
Plucker, who works for an organization called Freespeak Media, said people had been listening to musicians in the park when officers formed a cordon.
"Over the loudspeaker they are saying, 'You are being arrested,' " he said. "They're telling us, 'Sit down, put your hands on your head.' "
Thai leader faces challenges in streets and courts
BANGKOK: The embattled government of Prime Minster Samak Sundaravej faced challenges both on the streets and in the courts Tuesday after declaring a state of emergency in Bangkok.
Samak called out the military early in the day to put down a running battle between supporters and opponents of the government, who attacked each other with sticks, swords, slingshots and firearms. At least one person was killed and dozens were injured.
Later Tuesday, the Election Commission ruled that Samak's party had committed fraud during the December election and should be dissolved, a process that could take some time but that could ultimately bring down the government.
Labor unions representing 200,000 people at 43 state enterprises moved forward with a plan to cut water, electricity and telephone service to government offices beginning Wednesday.
Thai Airways employees said that they would delay some flights starting Wednesday and transportation workers said that they would halt service on 80 percent of Bangkok's bus routes. Railroad workers have already crippled part of the country's rail network.
In issuing his emergency decree, Samak said that it was "the most gentle way to bring the country back to peace" and that it would remain in effect for only a short time.
The state of emergency does not impose a curfew, but it bans gatherings of more than five people and any meetings that might disturb public order. It also bars any news reports or published materials that could "cause panic" or affect the stability of the state.
The commander of the Thai Army, General Anupong Paochinda, said that the military would not use force, would not take sides and would not stage a coup, as it did two years ago when it ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
"I can assure every person that the Thai police and military will not use force against any civilian by any means," he said at a news conference. "If the military uses force to stage a coup, it will create a lot more problems."
He added: "This is a very sensitive issue, and whatever we do, we will have to be careful not to take sides. This is a situation among people in society, two groups who do not agree."
At his own news conference, Samak sounded a plaintive note after imposing the state of emergency.
"I don't understand why people think I'm the bad guy here," he said. "Why isn't anyone saying anything about the other side?"
The other side, calling itself the People's Alliance for Democracy, is a mix of the middle class and some urban and rural poor, of democrats and of others who say democracy cannot work, all with a variety of agendas that share the common goal of bringing down the government.
Vacancy at the helm
Fukuda, 72, who was a consensus candidate without a strong political base of his own, announced his departure Monday over intractable domestic economic and regulatory reform problems, combined with an inability to sell to the Japanese public a broader global role for the country.
He is likely to be succeeded by Taro Aso, current head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, who served as foreign minister from 2005 to 2007. A staunch conservative, Aso gave voice to Abe's global vision for Japan, calling for an "arc of freedom and prosperity" stretching from Japan to eastern Europe.
At 67, he is one of the more popular politicians in Japan, known for his love of Japanese comic books. He gave Fukuda a run for his money last year when both ran for the leadership of the LDP after Abe's resignation.
Yet Aso is also a controversial figure, known for faux pas that offend Japanese and foreigners alike. One was his call to make Japan a place where "rich Jews" would like to live. He also supported official visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where several World War II war criminals are among the honored. Visits to Yasukuni by the former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi damaged relations with China and South Korea earlier this decade.
Whoever takes power in Tokyo faces four immediate challenges.
First, Japan's economy is sputtering, and a plan for continuing reform is needed. Some senior LDP policymakers want to increase Japan's consumer tax; the last time that was tried, in 1996, it squashed a nascent recovery and sent the country into a steep recession.
The momentum of Koizumi's reforms has been stalled since 2006, and the voting public is tired of inflation and stagnant wages, but neither Abe nor Fukuda had a clear recovery plan. Without one, the LDP will continue to get pummeled at the ballot box.
Second, the special legislation permitting Japanese naval forces to refuel allied ships in Indian Ocean anti-terrorist operations will expire at the end of this year. Both the LDP's coalition partner and the opposition party are against renewing the legislation, and Japanese policymakers fear America's reaction if it fails to pass. Many in Japan are concerned that a Japan that shrinks from acting outside its borders will be replaced by an increasingly confident and assertive China.
Third, political betting must now be on the Democratic Party to win an outright majority in the Lower House in the next general election, which must be held by September 2009. This would allow the opposition and its leader, Ichiro Ozawa, to form a government.Japan has been ruled by the LDP almost continuously since 1955, and a complete turnover in power would be unprecedented. Many political observers believe the LDP itself would splinter if it lost the election, creating more instability and possibly leading to political gridlock if the Democratic Party could not consolidate its gains.
Fourth, Tokyo and Washington are proceeding with an ambitious realignment of U.S. forces and expansion of the Japanese role. Billions of dollars are needed to move U.S. troops from current bases to Guam or to new facilities in Japan, and Tokyo has pledged to provide much of the funding. In addition, Washington expects Japan to continue its role in missile defense, and Japan's Defense Ministry is looking to upgrade weapons systems from Aegis ships to jet fighters.
A new prime minister must be prepared to tackle these problems and to wage the political wars necessary to fulfill his government's goals.
KABUL, Afghanistan: An American military investigation concluded Tuesday that 5 to 7 civilians and 30 to 35 Taliban were killed in an airstrike operation in western Afghanistan last month, many fewer than the 90 civilians that the Afghan government and the United Nations found in their preliminary investigations. Two civilians were also wounded, the American command said in a statement.
Venice Film Festival: Devastated cultures that refuse to surrender
A devastated culture and its refusal to be eradicated is also at the heart of "Kabuli Kid," by Barmak Akram (shown in the International Film Critics' Week section). Born in Kabul in 1966, Akram became a refugee in Paris in 1981. An artist, composer and filmmaker, this is his debut feature, made in his birthplace, a daunting challenge considering the continuing violence there.Khaled (Hadji Gul) is a kindly taxi driver, who gives a woman enshrouded in the traditional Afghan chador a discounted ride. When she gets out he discovers she has left her baby boy (Messi Gul) on the back seat. Having failed to find anyone else to take responsibility for the child, he is eventually forced by the onset of the security curfew to drive the baby home with him to the outskirts of town, where he struggles to feed his wife, four daughters and father. The hunt resumes the next morning for the infant's mother, or an alternative home for the baby.
Do animals grieve over death like we do?
As anybody who has grieved inconsolably over the death of a loved one can attest, extended mourning is, in part, a perverse kind of optimism. Surely this bottomless, unwavering sorrow will amount to something, goes the tape loop. Surely if I keep it up long enough I'll accomplish my goal, and the person will stop being dead.
Last week the Internet and European news outlets were flooded with poignant photographs of Gana, an 11-year-old gorilla at the Münster Zoo in Germany, holding up the body of her dead baby, Claudio, and pursing her lips toward his lifeless fingers. Claudio died at the age of 3 months of an apparent heart defect, and for days Gana refused to surrender his corpse to zookeepers, a saga that provoked among her throngs of human onlookers admiration and compassion and murmurings that, you see? Gorillas, and probably a lot of other animals as well, have a grasp of their mortality and will grieve for the dead and are really just like us after all.
Nobody knows what emotions swept through Gana's head and heart as she persisted in cradling and nuzzling the remains of her son. But primatologists do know this: Among nearly all species of apes and monkeys in the wild, a mother will react to the death of her infant as Gana did — by clutching the little decedent to her breast and treating it as though it were still alive. For days or even weeks afterward, she will take it with her everywhere and fight off anything that threatens to snatch it away. "The only time I was ever mobbed by langurs was when I tried to inspect a baby corpse," said the primatologist Sarah Hrdy. Only gradually will she allow the distance between herself and the ever-gnarlier carcass to grow.
Yes, we're a lot like other primates, particularly the great apes, with whom we have more than 98 percent of our genes in common. Yet elaborate displays of apparent maternal grief like Gana's may reveal less about our shared awareness of death than our shared impulse to act as though it didn't exist. Hrdy, author of "Mother Nature" and the coming "Mothers and Others," said it made adaptive sense for a primate mother to hang onto her motionless baby and keep her hopes high for a while. "If the baby wasn't dead, but temporarily comatose, because it was sick or fallen from the tree, well, it might come back to life," Hrdy said. "We're talking about primates who have singleton births after long periods of gestation. Each baby represents an enormous investment for the mother."
Everywhere in nature, biologists say, are examples of animals behaving as though they were at least vaguely aware of death's brutal supremacy and yet unpersuaded that it had anything to do with them. Michael Wilson, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota who has studied chimpanzees at Jane Goodall's research site in Gombe, said chimps were "very different from us in terms of what they understand about death and the difference between the living and the dead." The Hallmark hanky moment alternates with the Roald Dahl macabre. A mother will try to nurse her dead baby back to life, Wilson said, "but when the infant becomes quite decayed, she'll carry it by just one leg or sling it over her back in a casual way."
Juvenile chimpanzees display signs of genuine grief when their mothers die. In one famous case in Gombe, when a matriarch of the troop named Flo died at the age of 50-plus years, her son, Flint, proved inconsolable. Flint was 8 years old and could easily have cared for himself, but he had been unusually attached to his mother and refused to leave her corpse's side. Within a month, the son, too, died.
Yet adult chimpanzees rarely react with overt sentimentality to the death of another adult, Wilson said. As a rule, sick or elderly adults go off into the forest to die alone, he said, and those that die in company often do so at the hands of other adults, who "sometimes make sure the victim is dead, and sometimes they don't," he said. The same laissez-faire attitude toward death-versus-life applies to chimpanzee hunting behavior. "When they're hunting red colobus monkeys, they will either kill the monkeys first or simply immobilize them and start eating them while they're still alive," Wilson said. "The monkey will continue screaming and thrashing as they pull its guts out, which is very unpleasant for humans who are watching."
For some animals, the death of a conspecific is a little tinkle of the dinner bell. A lion will approach another lion's corpse, give it a sniff and a lick, and if the corpse is fresh enough, will start to eat it. For others, a corpse is considered dangerous and must be properly disposed of. Among naked mole rats, for example, which are elaborately social mammals that spend their entire lives in a system of underground tunnels, a corpse is detected quickly and then dragged, kicked or carried to the communal latrine. And when the latrine is filled, said Paul Sherman of Cornell University, "they seal it off with an earthen plug, presumably for hygienic reasons, and dig a new one."
Among the social insects, the need for prompt corpse management is considered so pressing that there are dedicated undertakers, workers that within a few minutes of a death will pick up the body and hoist or fly it outside, to a safe distance from hive or nest, the better to protect against possible contagious disease. Honeybees are such compulsive housekeepers that if a mouse or other large creature, drawn by the warmth or promise of honey, happens to make its way into the hive and die inside, the bees, unable to bodily remove it, will embalm it in resin collected from trees. "You can find mummified mice inside beehives that are completely preserved right down to their whiskers," said Gene Robinson, professor of entomology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
But all is not grim for those dead in tooth and claw. Researchers have determined that elephants deserve their longstanding reputation as exceptionally death-savvy beings, their concern for the remains of their fellows approaching what we might call reverence. Reporting in the journal Biology Letters, Karen McComb of the University of Sussex and her colleagues found that when African elephants were presented with an array of bones and other natural objects, the elephants spent considerably more time exploring the skulls and tusks of elephants than they did anything else, including the skulls of rhinoceroses and other large mammals.
George Wittemyer of Colorado State University and his colleagues described in Applied Animal Behavior Science the extraordinary reactions of different elephants to the death of one of their prominent matriarchs. "One female stood over the body, rocking back and forth," Wittemyer said in an interview. "Others raised their foot over her head. Others touched their tusks to hers. They would do their behaviors, and then leave."
They were saying goodbye, or maybe, Won't you please come back home?
An overly bookish Stalin?
In the article "Springtime for Stalin: Hints of rehabilitation" (Sept. 1) Anatoly Utkin proudly asks: "Can you tell me of any other leader, an American president, for example, who read 10,000 books?"
Probably not, given that it would take a little over 27 years at a rate of 1 book a day. This makes one wonder (a) how Stalin found time for his other "activities" and (b) what sort of books he read. Did they include "Where's Spot?" perhaps, or "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Barnaby Capel-Dunn, Aubigny-en-Plaine, France
During negotiations over the friendship pact signed on Saturday by Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italian officials accepted a clause stating that neither country would attack the other, Gaddafi said, according to state news agency Jana on Tuesday.
"We told them this is not enough ... because in 1986, (U.S.) aggression against Libyan territories had come from Italy," the Libyan leader said.
As a result, he said, Italy agreed not to allow the use of its territories in any hostile action against Libya.
U.S. aircraft bombed Tripoli, Benghazi and the home of Gaddafi in April 1986, attacks which Libya said killed more than 40 people including his adopted baby daughter.
Her trip is a tangible sign of warming U.S.-Libya relations, which first began to thaw when Tripoli gave up its weapons of mass destruction program in 2003.
"It is a historic stop," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "It certainly does mark a new chapter in U.S.-Libya relations."
Rice, who is expected to meet Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on her September 4-7 trip, also will visit Maghreb nations Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and stop over in Lisbon, Portugal, before returning to Washington on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was the last top U.S. diplomat to visit Tripoli and made the trip in May 1953, before Rice was born.
British Minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations Mark Malloch-Brown said it was important for the vote to showcase Zambia as a vibrant democracy in Africa.
Malloch-Brown met Zambian Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande to offer help to finance the election, shortly after arriving in the country for the burial of former President Levy Mwanawasa on Wednesday.
"I hope the government will invite European Union observers to participate in observing the elections to show the region that it (always) holds high class elections, not like what happened in Zimbabwe," Malloch-Brown said.
"We want to show support to Zambia and we are going to be making a contribution ... (but) we hope the elections cost will be less than (the figures) we have seen," he added.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said talks with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF that resumed on Friday in South Africa did not reach agreement.
"There is a problem and we still hope the mediation will continue and we still hope wisdom will prevail," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said in Dar es Salaam.
"We would prefer a solution be arrived at immediately because of the escalating economic crisis. We still pray that a solution will be found towards a 50 percent power-sharing solution," he told reporters in Tanzania's commercial capital.
U.S. terrorist watch list surrounded by confusion
NEW YORK: Nobody likes the way the terrorist watch lists work in the United States. Not the government, not the airlines and certainly not the innocent travelers who are flagged and delayed at the airport when a match of their name is on the federal master list.
There is even a dispute about how many names are on the list. A million (!) says the American Civil Liberties Union. Not even close (!), responds the Transportation Security Administration.
The U.S. Terrorist Screening Center database contained more than 724,000 "records" as of April 2007, according to an audit by the inspector general's office of the Justice Department, which said the number of records was growing by 20,000 a month.
The American Civil Liberties Union, after extrapolating, issued a report in July saying that the "nation's terrorist watch list has hit one million names."
It added that "members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list."
New risk charts in a paper published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute provide a broader perspective than most of the risk calculators on the Internet, because they cover the risks for 10 different causes of death, and for all causes combined, while differentiating by age and between smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.
At first glance, it may appear that smokers and nonsmokers die of heart disease at the same rate, but a 35-year-old male smoker is seven times as likely to die of heart disease as a nonsmoker the same age.
The numbers begin to converge as some smokers survive the more common smokers' diseases, and by age 75, their rate of death from heart disease is almost the same as nonsmokers'.
Dr. Lisa Schwartz, a co-author of the paper and an associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, said people were often presented with statistics intended to frighten them about a particular disease.
Another advantage of the new charts, Schwartz said, is the 10-year time frame. "Often numbers are presented as lifetime statistics, which make the risk look too large, or as one-year statistics, which make the risk look too small. The charts provide the information you need to understand a risk, and whether to consider taking some action to reduce it."
The judge, Baltasar Garzón, issued a ruling seeking information from church leaders, mayors and other authorities about victims of General Francisco Franco's forces after his military uprising on July 17, 1936, touched off the war against the democratically elected Republican government.
Atrocities were committed on both sides, although the general's victorious Fascists are generally considered to have committed the lion's share.
Although Franco decreed that anyone who opposed him could face execution, there is no official record of how many people were killed by his supporters during and after the civil war. A historian said the Franco government listed 55,000 people executed or murdered by Republican sympathizers.
During the war, from 1936 to 1939, an estimated half million combatants were killed.
The ruling by Judge Garzón, the country's main antiterrorism investigating judge, was welcomed by some.
"For years, this country has been unable to talk about these things, yet there are very many people affected," said Emilio Silva, president of an organization that leads efforts to exhume the bodies of civilians killed by the Fascists during the war.
Paul Preston, a British historian, said the Franco government had kept detailed records of its supporters who were killed or executed by his foes, but not of government opponents who were killed.
PHILADELPHIA: Two former Philadelphia funeral directors on Tuesday admitted to selling cadavers to a ring that cut them up and sold the body parts to hospitals for implants.Gerald Garzone and his brother Louis Garzone pleaded guilty to charges that they conspired with others to take bones, skin and organs from 244 bodies in their funeral homes between February 2004 and September 2005.
Some of the bodies were infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, and used in transplants by at least five Philadelphia-area hospitals, prompting hundreds of lawsuits by the families of transplant recipients.
Hisham Talaat, who is also a lawmaker from the governing party of President Hosni Mubarak, is accused of paying the former policeman $2 million to kill 30-year-old Suzanne Tamim, according to the chief prosecutor, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud. Tamim's body was found decapitated in her apartment in Dubai in July.
The slaying made waves in the press in Egypt and prompted a media ban there, following reports that high-profile Egyptian figures were involved in the case.
The ban raised complaints that Mubarak's government was protecting the big businessmen who have been playing an increasingly prominent role in the authoritarian president's rule.
Talaat, a senior member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, was reportedly being considered for a cabinet post. His businesses include real estate and tourism developments in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. He owns several companies and is involved in the construction of upscale suburbs around Cairo.
Financial services layoffs to continue in London
Banks including Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank have already eliminated thousands of jobs in Britain over the past year in working through credit write-downs and adjusting to a much slower deal flow.
The bulk of the job cuts in London's financial sector are expected to be made in the last three months of this year and at the beginning of 2009.
"Come the end of this year, we will start to see some fairly aggressive rises in unemployment," said George Buckley, chief British economist at Deutsche Bank.
Economic growth in Britain will remain "below trend" into middle or late 2009, generating more job losses, which tend to come about six months after a downturn in growth, he said.
The differences emerging from his gene chips are mostly neutral variations, meaning changes to which natural selection is indifferent because they do not affect survival. Such changes are probably too inconsequential to affect any properties that people are likely to notice.
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