Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops

“Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.”



VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.


Richard Williamson, one of the bishops, during a TV interview.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

Related article: Pope stirs up Jewish fury over bishop (Guardian)

A theologian who has grappled with the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has sought to foster a more ardent, if smaller, church over one with looser faith.

Read morePope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops

World Agenda: riots in Iceland, Latvia and Bulgaria are a sign of things to come

Our third global political column explores the start of an age of rebellion over the financial crisis – beginning in Iceland


Icelanders vented their fury at the political class’s handling of the financial crisis by staging angry protests in Reykjavik
(Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images)

Icelanders all but stormed their Parliament last night. It was the first session of the chamber after what might appear to be an unusually long Christmas break.

Ordinary islanders were determined to vent their fury at the way that the political class had allowed the country to slip towards bankruptcy. The building was splattered with paint and yoghurt, the crowd yelled and banged pans, fired rockets at the windows and lit a bonfire in front of the main door. Riot police moved in.

Related article: Icelanders held over angry demo (BBC News)

Now in the grand sweep of the current crisis, a riot on a piece of volcanic rock in the north Atlantic may not seem to add up to much. But it is a sign of things to come: a new age of rebellion.

The financial meltdown has become part of the real economy and is now beginning to shape real politics. More and more citizens on the edge of the global crisis are taking to the streets. Bulgaria has been gripped this month by its worst riots since 1997 when street power helped to topple a Socialist government. Now Socialists are at the helm again and are having to fend off popular protests about government incompetence and corruption.

In Latvia – where growth has been in double-digit figures for years – anger is bubbling over at official mismanagement. GDP is expected to contract by 5 per cent this year; salaries will be cut; unemployment will rise. Last week, in a country where demonstrators usually just sing and then go home, 10,000 people besieged parliament.

Iceland, Bulgaria, Latvia: these are not natural protest cultures. Something is going amiss.

The LSE economist Robert Wade – addressing a protest meeting in Reykjavik’s cinema – recently warned that the world was approaching a new tipping point. Starting from March-May 2009, we can expect large-scale civil unrest, he said. “It will be caused by the rise of general awareness throughout Europe, America and Asia that hundreds of millions of people in rich and poor countries are experiencing rapidly falling consumption standards; that the crisis is getting worse not better; and that it has escaped the control of public authorities, national and international.”

Read moreWorld Agenda: riots in Iceland, Latvia and Bulgaria are a sign of things to come

Baltic Riots Spread to Lithuania in the Face of Deteriorating Economic Conditions


Riot police officers, in front of Lithuania’s Parliament building, confronted about 7,000 demonstrators in Vilnius on Friday. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

MOSCOW – Riots broke out once again in the Baltic states on Friday, this time in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, where a group of 7,000 gathered to protest planned economic austerity measures. A smaller group began throwing eggs and stones through the windows of government buildings until the police moved in, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

The episode was nearly identical to one on Tuesday in Latvia, when a peaceful protest of 10,000 people erupted into violence. And on Wednesday, a gathering of 2,000 in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, began throwing stones and snowballs at the Parliament building, calling for the nation’s leaders to resign.

In all three countries, years of steady economic growth have come to a jarring halt, and citizens are facing layoffs and cuts in wages. In each case, the authorities were left wondering whether they were facing organized activism or just the anger of people whose expectations have been disappointed. “I think this is just the beginning,” said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “We should expect this to happen in many places.”

Related articles:
Latvia Is Shaken by Riots Over Its Weak Economy (New York Times)
Recession sparks riots in Sofia and Riga (Irish Times)
Protests spread in Europe amid economic crisis
(Los Angeles Times)

Like its neighbor, Latvia, Lithuania has enjoyed a reputation as a “Baltic Tiger,” buoyed by foreign investment, a housing boom and annual growth rates of around 8 percent. Although Lithuania is not facing as dire an outlook as Latvia, economists predict a 5 percent drop in gross domestic product there next year, and the newly elected Parliament has announced tough austerity measures: workers in the public sector will see pay cuts of up to 15 percent, pensions will fall and an array of taxes will rise.

Read moreBaltic Riots Spread to Lithuania in the Face of Deteriorating Economic Conditions

U.S. military report warns ‘sudden collapse’ of Mexico is possible


President-elect Barack Obama listens as Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon makes a statement to reporters in Washington, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Mexico is one of two countries that “bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse,” according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats. (AP photo)

Related story: 2,000 fresh troops sent to Juarez as violence continues

EL PASO – Mexico is one of two countries that “bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse,” according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command’s “Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)” report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. “In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

“The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone.”

Read moreU.S. military report warns ‘sudden collapse’ of Mexico is possible

Fugitive money manager bails out of plane to fake death

MIAMI (Reuters) – A pilot wanted on financial fraud charges parachuted out of his plane over Alabama and allowed the aircraft to crash in neighboring Florida in an apparent attempt to fake his death, sheriff’s investigators said on Monday.

Authorities launched a manhunt for the pilot, who survived and checked into an Alabama hotel, and then fled, the Santa Rosa County, Florida, sheriff’s office said.

Related article: Warrant issued for missing pilot (CNN)

The pilot, identified as Marcus Schrenker, 38, was the only person aboard the plane that took off for Florida on Sunday from Anderson, Indiana.

Over Alabama, the pilot made a bogus emergency call, saying the plane’s windshield had imploded and he was bleeding profusely. He then put the plane on autopilot and parachuted out, investigators said.

Military jets were scrambled to aid the plane, a Piper PA-46 Turbo Prop, and the military pilots noticed the Piper’s door was open. They followed the empty plane to northwest Florida, where it crashed on Sunday night near the city of Milton, in a swampy area within a few hundred yards of some houses, said Sgt. Scott Haines of Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s office.

Read moreFugitive money manager bails out of plane to fake death

14 Percent of U.S. Adults Can’t Read

About 14 percent of U.S. adults won’t be reading this article. Well, okay, most people won’t read it, given all the words that are published these days to help us understand and navigate the increasingly complex world.

But about 1 in 7 can’t read it. They’re illiterate.

Statistics released by the U.S. Education Department this week show that some 32 million U.S. adults lack basic prose literacy skill. That means they can’t read a newspaper or the instruction on a bottle of pills.

Read more14 Percent of U.S. Adults Can’t Read

Satellite device will allow parents to plot child’s location to within 10ft

A satellite tracking device that will allow parents to plot their child’s location to within 10ft will go on sale in the UK in March, its manufacturer said.


The GPS watch can be securely fastened to a child’s wrist and will trigger an alert if forcibly removed. Photo: PA

Concerned parents will be able to receive text or email updates of their child’s location.

Nu.M8, thought to be the world’s first GPS locator device specifically designed to be worn by children, is concealed within a digital watch.

It can be securely fastened to a child’s wrist and will trigger an alert if forcibly removed.

Parents who text “wru”, or click “where r you” on the secure website, will be able to see the child’s location on Google maps and the street address and postcode will also be displayed.

So-called “safe zones” can also be set up in which children can play safely and an alert will be sent to the parent’s mobile phone and computer if the child strays out of that area.

The watch, which will go on sale in March, is expected to cost £149.99, with a standard monthly subscription fee of £9.99.

Read moreSatellite device will allow parents to plot child’s location to within 10ft

Photographers criminalised as police ‘abuse’ anti-terror laws

Fury as stop-and-search powers are used to block and confiscate legal pictures

The artist Reuben Powell was arrested and imprisoned for photographing an old government building
The artist Reuben Powell was arrested and imprisoned for photographing an old government building

Reuben Powell is an unlikely terrorist. A white, middle-aged, middle-class artist, he has been photographing and drawing life around the capital’s Elephant & Castle for 25 years.

With a studio near the 1960s shopping centre at the heart of this area in south London, he is a familiar figure and is regularly seen snapping and sketching the people and buildings around his home – currently the site of Europe’s largest regeneration project. But to the police officers who arrested him last week his photographing of the old HMSO print works close to the local police station posed an unacceptable security risk.

“The car skidded to a halt like something out of Starsky & Hutch and this officer jumped out very dramatically and said ‘what are you doing?’ I told him I was photographing the building and he said he was going to search me under the Anti-Terrorism Act,” he recalled.

For Powell, this brush with the law resulted in five hours in a cell after police seized the lock-blade knife he uses to sharpen his pencils. His release only came after the intervention of the local MP, Simon Hughes, but not before he was handcuffed and his genetic material stored permanently on the DNA database.

Read morePhotographers criminalised as police ‘abuse’ anti-terror laws

Families turning to insurance fraud to beat credit crunch

Hard-up families are increasingly turning to insurance fraud to help see them through the credit crunch.

Insurers have seen an 80 per cent increase since last year in the number of bogus household and vehicle claims, many of which are being made by middle-class families struggling to pay their bills.

Typical scams include householders hiding their valuables and staging a burglary in an attempt to claim thousands of pounds in cash, or dropping their old television down the stairs so they can claim for a new flatscreen model.

In 2007 the insurance industry detected 91,000 frauds, which is set to rise to more than 160,000, in 2008.

Fraud costs the insurance industry an estimated £1.6 billion every year, adding £40 to the average annual household premium.

Read moreFamilies turning to insurance fraud to beat credit crunch

Gerald Celente: The Greatest Depression

Mr. Celente long ago warned of the economic malaise that is gripping the planet – but he does have some good news.

Gerald Celente

The Greatest Depression *AUDIO*

To download this audio file to your computer, right click this link and select “save”, “save as” or “save file as” (depending upon your browser).

Source: HoweStreet