Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Indonesia tsunami: Rescuers battle to reach survivors

House on North Pagai, 26/10 As many as 4,000 homes may have been destroyed by the tsunami
Indonesian rescue teams are battling to reach hundreds of people believed to be missing a day after a tsunami struck small islands off the coast of Sumatra.
Officials say a 3m-high wave crashed into the Mentawai islands, leaving more than 100 people dead and 500 missing.
Rescuers continue to be hampered by bad weather and aftershocks from the quake that caused the tsunami.
US President Barack Obama, who spent some of his childhood in Indonesia, has spoken of his sadness at the deaths.
"At the same time, I am heartened and encouraged by the remarkable resiliency of the Indonesian people and the commitment of their government to rapidly assist the victims," he said in a statement.
He said the US was ready to help in any way.
Officials said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would fly back from a meeting with regional leaders in Vietnam to help deal with the tsunami aftermath, and the rescue effort on Java, where an erupting volcano has caused chaos.
Higher ground Regional disaster official Hermansyah said rough seas were making it difficult to ship aid to the Mentawai islands from Padang, the nearest major port on Sumatra.
"Yesterday a ship was forced to return," he said.
Forecasters say the bad weather is likely to continue in the coming days.
Mr Hermansyah told BBC Indonesian that about 4,000 households had been displaced by the tsunami, and that many people had fled to higher ground.
He said that those displaced needed tents, blankets, food, drinking water and medicine.
The Indonesian Red Cross said it was despatching a team to the islands, and would send 1,000 tents.
Vice-President Boediono is due to fly to the area with top military and health officials later.
On Tuesday, local fisheries official Hardimansyah said most buildings in the South Pagai coastal village of Betu Monga had been destroyed.
North Pagai, 26/10 Bad weather is hampering the rescue effort
"Of the 200 people living in that village, only 40 have been found - 160 are still missing, mostly women and children," he told Reuters news agency.
"We have people reporting to the security post here that they could not hold on to their children, that they were swept away. A lot of people are crying."
The tsunami was caused by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake late on Monday.
Waves reached 3m (10ft) high and the water swept inland as far as 600m on South Pagai.
The vast Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the world's most active areas for earthquakes and volcanoes.
More than 1,000 people were killed by an earthquake off Sumatra in September 2009.
In December 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Aceh triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed a quarter of a million people in 13 countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

WashPost: Secret Iraq war files offer grim new details

Secret Iraq war files offer grim new details

By Greg Miller and Peter Finn

A massive cache of secret U.S. field reports from the Iraq war provides grim new details about the toll of that conflict, indicating that more than 100,000 Iraqis were killed during a six-year stretch and that American forces often failed to intervene as the U.S.-backed government brutalized deta...

To view the entire article, go to

Monday, October 4, 2010


US judge asks Vatican to serve court paper to pope
MILWAUKEE – A federal U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in Wisconsin.
The request is an incremental step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against the Milwaukee priest quiet. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with the request.
When faced with similar requests the Vatican has made service difficult, time-consuming and expensive by insisting, for example, that documentation be translated into Latin, one of the Vatican's official languages.
Mike Finnegan, the attorney representing the Chicago-based plaintiff, said Friday he's not holding out hope that the Vatican reverses course and begins to cooperate now.
"Based on what they've done in other cases, I don't expect them to do the right thing," he said. "I expect more delay and obstruction."
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's U.S.-based attorney, said he hadn't seen the court request and couldn't comment on whether the Vatican would comply with it.
The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S. federal court, names as defendants Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, and his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
It claims the three men knew about allegations of sexual abuse at a Milwaukee-area school for the deaf, and called off internal punishment of the accused priest. The Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998, was accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the school from 1950 to 1974.
Lena has called the lawsuit a publicity stunt and said it rehashes theories already rejected by U.S. courts.
"This is a minor procedural step by plaintiff's lawyers in a meritless lawsuit," he said. He added that it refers to abuse that occurred in the 1970s, which he said was more than 20 years before the Holy See first learned of the priest's actions.
The Vatican has argued that it isn't liable for clerical sex-abuse cases because according to canon law and the structure of the Catholic Church, bishops — not Rome — are responsible for disciplining pedophile priests.
Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland had complained about Murphy in a 1996 letter to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the powerful Vatican office then-Cardinal Ratzinger led from 1981 to his election as pope in 2005.
That office told the archbishop to move forward with a canonical trial against Murphy in 1997. But after the office received a letter from Murphy it urged a different course, citing Murphy's advanced age, failing health and a lack of further allegations.
The Wisconsin bishops ordered the proceedings halted. In the end, Murphy died while still a defendant in a canonical trial, which could have led to him being removed from the clerical state.
The court order requesting the Vatican's cooperation in the lawsuit was signed Sept. 24 by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa. It was released Friday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
"The court requests the assistance described herein as necessary in the interests of justice," Randa wrote.
Plaintiffs in two other U.S. cases have also sued the Vatican under similar arguments. The three plaintiffs in the Kentucky case dismissed their case last month, and a case in Oregon is ongoing.
SNAP spokesman Arthur Budzinski called the Wisconsin court order a "hopeful sign." He said he hoped it would lead to the pope testifying under oath about what he knew about Murphy's actions.
Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.