Must Reads: A 'Red Era' museum, Obama and mothers of the missing


From attacks in Afghanistan to the missing in Mexico, here are five stories you shouldn't miss from the past week in global news:

China museum builder lets history speak

Obama faces new Mideast challenges in his second term

As 'insider attacks' grow, so does U.S.-Afghanistan divide

Mothers from Central America search for missing kin in Mexico

Britain's crackdown on Web comments sparks free-speech debate

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Marta Elena Perez of from Nicaragua attends Mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2012, with a photograph of her daughter, Karla Patricia Perez, who went missing in 2005. Credit: Marco Ugarte / Associated Press

Former oil executive named as next archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby, a former oil executive, was formally named  as the next archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the world's Anglicans
LONDON -- His first reaction on being given the job was "Oh no."

But Justin Welby said Friday that he now feels a "massive sense of privilege" at being appointed the next archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans and a post steeped in centuries of tradition.

Welby, 56, acknowledged the formidable challenges that face the Anglican Communion in general and the Church of England in particular; both have been riven by bitter divisions over sexuality and the role of women. Church attendance is also dwindling perilously in some parts of the Anglican world, including here in Anglicanism's birthplace, Britain.

But the oil executive-turned-priest, who will take up his duties as leader of the flock in March, expressed faith that the church would find a way through.

"I am utterly optimistic about the future of the church," Welby told reporters Friday. "We will certainly get things wrong; I certainly will. But the grace of God is bigger than our biggest failures."

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Britain seeks a million 'Dementia Friends'

CameronBritain is seeking a million “dementia friends” who will be trained to understand the illness and help those living with it, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Thursday.

The plan is one of a host of measures aimed at dealing with dementia as the country braces for the side effects of longer lifespans. British government officials say a quarter of hospital beds are already occupied by someone with dementia; the number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next three decades. 

“There are already nearly 700,000 sufferers in England alone but less than half are diagnosed and general awareness about the condition is shockingly low,” Cameron said.

The British numbers mirror global trends that are putting new pressures on health systems and families worldwide, as better healthcare leads to longer lives and more cases of ailments associated with aging.

Earlier diagnosis of dementia can help patients find ways to cope with the illness and reduce costs for care, health researchers have found, but stigma often steers people away from diagnosis.The World Health Organization estimates that even in wealthy countries, only 20% to 50% of cases are routinely recognized.

“Through the Dementia Friends project we will for the first time make sure a million people know how to spot those telltale signs and provide support,” Cameron said.
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British bishop expected to be named archbishop of Canterbury

WelbyLONDON -- If Britain’s media and its famous bookies are right, the man in line to be the next archbishop of Canterbury is a smart but self-deprecating former oil executive who has said he doesn’t want the job, one of the most exalted positions in Christendom.

In the latest step of a meteoric rise, Justin Welby, the current -- and relative neophyte -- bishop of the diocese of Durham in northern England, is expected to be named Friday as the next leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans. That includes the Episcopal Church in the United States, which boasts about 2 million adherents.

If the appointment happens, as all of Britain’s major news outlets are reporting it will, Welby would succeed Rowan Williams, the mild-mannered theologian who announced his retirement in March after a rocky decade-long tenure and who advised his successor to have the “skin of a rhinoceros” to deal with the slings and arrows that come with the job.

Welby, 56, would inherit a global fellowship hobbled by hostility between conservatives and liberals over the same issues that have divided many Christian denominations, particularly the role of women and of gays and lesbians in the church. Traditionalists throughout the Anglican Communion, from American priests to fast-growing parishes in Africa and Asia, have even threatened to pull out and start their own rival group.

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Conservatives welcome Obama victory -- in Britain

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now that the rancorous U.S. election is over, there’s one place that President Obama can count on the support of conservatives: Britain.
LONDON -- Now that the rancorous U.S. election is over, there’s one place that President Obama can count on the support of conservatives: Britain.

Official congratulations from the British government on Obama’s reelection received sustained applause in Parliament on Wednesday, with much of the enthusiasm emanating from benches packed with lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party.

That’s partly because Obama remains an admired figure in Europe, but also because British Prime Minister David Cameron has forged a warm relationship with the Democratic president. Before election day, the media here reported that Cameron, 46, was privately rooting for Obama, with whom he shares a generational rapport.

That affinity exists despite some philosophical and political gulfs between the two men. For example, Cameron’s coalition government has imposed massive public-spending cuts that would make even American tea party activists envious. (Perhaps it’s all that tea they drink in Britain.)

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Obama still a winner in Europe, poll shows

Europe favors President Obama over Mitt Romney
LONDON -- The U.S. presidential election remains too close to call, but there’s one place where the polls show President Obama blowing Mitt Romney out of the water: Europe.

A survey of seven European nations, including longtime U.S. allies Britain and France, has found that Obama would win more than 90% of the vote if the respondents could cast ballots in Tuesday’s race. The survey was conducted by YouGov, a respected British-based polling organization that has also tracked Obama’s and Romney’s numbers within the U.S.

“No doubt many Americans are not overly concerned about who Europeans think they should vote for,” said Joe Twyman, YouGov’s director of political and social research. “On the other hand, history has shown that when a president is unpopular with the people of Europe, it can have a far-reaching
effect on how those people view the whole United States.”

The poll, which covered Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, found that Romney failed to garner more than 10% support in any of those countries. In Sweden and Denmark, the former Massachusetts governor fared even worse: Only 1 in 20 people named him as their choice.

The results attest to Obama’s enduring popularity on this side of the Atlantic even as he has struggled to maintain support at home.

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Scotland Yard may move its famous headquarters

Britain Scotland Yard
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

LONDON -– Scotland Yard wants to pull up stakes.

One of the world’s most famous police forces unveiled plans Tuesday to sell off its iconic office tower with the revolving “New Scotland Yard” sign out front, a well-known landmark seen in countless cutaway movie shots and tourist photo albums. London’s crime-fighters are hoping to move into new digs in a smaller building around the corner, closer to government offices.

The reason for the proposed relocation is elementary: to save money.

Times are tough in Britain, which is undergoing its most brutal spending cuts in at least a generation, and the capital’s famous black-hatted bobbies have not been spared. The Yard -- also known as the Met, short for Metropolitan Police Service -- is trying to slash $800 million from its budget over the next 2 1/2  years.

That has meant looking at selling the family silver, or in this case, some of the force’s large property holdings -- stations, operation centers and the like. The current headquarters, which the Yard has occupied since 1967, costs nearly $18 million a year to maintain and is in need of an $80-million upgrade, making it an “expensive luxury,” Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey told city officials Tuesday.

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Pakistani girl shot by Taliban 'will rise again,' father says

Malala and Family

LONDON -- The father of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head for standing up to the Taliban in defense of education for girls, called his daughter’s survival a miracle Friday and vowed that she would “rise again.”

Ziauddin Yousafzai, visiting his daughter for the first time since she was flown from Pakistan for treatment in a British hospital, also said that the global and domestic outrage over the attack on Malala represented a “turning point” for his troubled country.

“They wanted to kill her, but I would say that she fell temporarily. She will rise again, she will stand again,” Yousafzai told reporters. “When she fell, Pakistan stood.”

PHOTOS: Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai and other members of Malala’s family arrived in Britain on Thursday for an emotional reunion with the wounded 15-year-old, who was shot by Taliban militants at point-blank range Oct. 9. Two other girls on the school bus with Malala were also injured, one critically.

Six days later, Malala arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in central England. Doctors say the teenager is making a slow but steady recovery.

“Last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes … out of happiness,” said Yousafzai, who lives in Pakistan’s scenic but embattled Swat Valley, where Taliban militants have sought to impose their harshly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

“She got the right treatment at the right place at the right time,” he said. “An attacker who could be called the agent of Satan, he attacked, but … I found angels on my side -- everywhere all around me -- in this time, in this place.”

Malala rose to prominence by speaking out against the Taliban’s opposition to education for girls and by keeping a blog of her experiences for the BBC’s Urdu Service. Her shooting sparked revulsion in Pakistan and around the world, and triggered large rallies in her support.

Her father said that he initially feared she might not survive the brazen attack.

“The next day when she was operated [on], her whole body was swollen, and she was in very bad condition …. I told my brother-in-law that you should make preparations for her funeral,” Yousafzai recalled, fighting back tears.

The bullet entered Malala’s head near the temple and burrowed down the side of her head and neck before lodging above her shoulder blade. The impact drove bone fragments from her skull into her brain, but doctors say they have not detected “any deficit in terms of function” so far.

PHOTOS: Malala Yousafzai

Malala has been able to stand up with help from hospital staffers, and she has communicated through writing. Doctors say that she will eventually undergo reconstructive surgery to her skull and possibly her jaw, but that she first needs some weeks of rest.

“I’m thankful to all the people all over the world, indifferent to caste, creed, religion, faith, country, age, sex -- everyone, everyone across the world,” her father said. “They condemned the attack in strong words, and they prayed for my daughter, who is not only my daughter; she is the daughter
of everybody, the sister of everybody.”


Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, shot by Taliban, able to stand

Pakistani girl shot by Taliban arrives in Britain for treatment

112 killed, homes burned as Buddhists, Muslims clash in Myanmar

-- Henry Chu

Photo: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, lies in her hospital bed in central England with her father and brothers at her side. Credit: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

London's historic Admiralty Arch will become a hotel

Admiralty Arch in London
LONDON -- Admiralty Arch, a century-old stone archway and building that serves as the ceremonial gateway to Buckingham Palace, is to get a new lease on life as a luxury hotel, a government minister confirmed Thursday.

Built by King Edward VII to honor the long reign of his mother Queen Victoria, the arch has been leased to Spanish property entrepreneur Rafael Serrano, chief executive of the London-based investment company Prime Investors Capital. Serrano paid about $96 million for the 99-year lease.

From the top of the central archway on one side guests will enjoy a view toward Buckingham Palace down the Mall, the tree-lined avenue that is the traditional route of royal processions, including April’s royal wedding cortege of Prince William and his bride Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. The other side looks down on Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson’s Column and a meeting point for public celebrations, rallies and protests.

It is the latest of the government property fire sales around Europe over the last two years that come amid austerity drives to tame massive deficits. In France and Italy, government-owned palaces and villas have gone to wealthy private investors. In Greece, state-owned buildings, marinas and ports reportedly are up for sale.

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U.S. gas bonanza from fracking slow to spread globally


In less than a generation, the United States has soared to world leadership in extracting natural gas from shale formations by hydraulic fracturing. But as the world debates whether “fracking” is an economic boon or a budding environmental disaster, few foreign countries are following the U.S. lead.

GlobalFocusConditions unique to the United States have encouraged investment in the abundant source of low-carbon energy and boosted prospects for reducing dependence on costly and unpredictable supplies of foreign oil. Of the natural gas consumed in the United States last year, 94% came from domestic production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“The availability of large quantities of shale gas should enable the United States to consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas for many years and produce more natural gas than it consumes,” the agency reports, predicting a 29% increase in output by 2035, almost all of it from shale fracking.

The rapid advance toward self-sufficiency has made the U.S. industry both a model and a cautionary tale for other countries pondering all-in development of their shale-gas reserves.

Significant deposits of natural gas trapped in coal and shale seams have been identified in Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, Australia, China, South Africa and the cone of South America. Global energy giants like Shell and Chevron are bankrolling billions in exploration, sizing up the cost-effectiveness of replicating the U.S. boom in more remote locales with little infrastructure.

Technological advances in horizontal drilling have made it feasible to tap small pockets of gas trapped in shale layers a mile or more below the surface. Contractors bore thousands of feet down through soil, rock and water layers, then drill laterally through the shale to create a horizontal well. When sand, water and chemicals are blasted into the bore holes, the force fractures the shale, releasing gas from fissures within the sedimentary rock. The gas is captured and ferried by pipeline to distribution grids or to port facilities where it can be converted to liquefied natural gas for overseas shipment.

But the process leaves behind tons of chemical-contaminated mud. There are also reports of drinking water pollution from the chemicals and methane gas that escapes into underground reservoirs. A study last year published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documented “systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale gas extraction” in the aquifers above the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the U.S. Northeast.  This spring, the U.S. Geological Survey reported “a remarkable increase” in the occurrence of earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger that it tied to fracking operations.

This month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office acknowledged that the Environmental Protection Agency was finding it “challenging” to inspect and enforce clean air and clean water regulations in the fast-moving fracking industry. For example, the GAO report noted, the EPA is often unable to evaluate alleged water contamination because investigators lack information about the water quality before the fracking occurred.

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