Bishops' rehabilitation prompts protests
VATICAN CITY : Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including that of a Holocaust denier whose rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jewish groups. The four bishops were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by the late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent - a move the Vatican said at the time was an act of schism. The Vatican said yesterday that Pope Benedict had rehabilitated the four as part of his efforts to bring Lefebvre's Society of St. Pius X back into the Vatican's fold. The move came just days after one of the four, British Bishop Richard Williamson, was shown in a Swedish state TV interview saying that historical evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed."
Mexican officials accused of drug links
MEXICO CITY : President Felipe Calderon's war on drug trafficking has led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials with alleged ties to Mexico's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel. The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top, but critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others. Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs. Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies.
New N.Y. senator is on a 'listening tour'
NEW YORK : Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand started her statewide "listening tour" yesterday in the urban heart of Harlem - far from the upstate farmlands she represented as a congresswoman. A day after Gov. David Paterson named the centrist Democrat to fill Hillary Clinton's empty Senate seat, Gillibrand began introducing herself to her new downstate constituents by appearing at a weekly rally held by the Rev. Al Sharpton. A Paterson spokeswomansaid the governor's office planned to deliver paperwork formalizing the appointment to the Senate today.
Al-Jazeera coverage of Gaza widely watched
DOHA, Qatar : American viewership of Al-Jazeera English rose drastically during the Israel-Hamas war, partly because the channel had what other networks didn't: reporters inside Gaza. The station streamed video of Israel's offensive against Hamas on the Internet and took advantage of online media such as the microblogging Web site Twitter to provide real-time updates. During the 22-day conflict that ended last weekend, the station's Web video stream saw a 600 percent jump in worldwide viewership - and about 60 percent of those hits came from the U.S., according to the station's internal numbers. Traffic to Al-Jazeera's main Web page spiked once Israeli airstrikes began Dec. 27, according to Amazon.com's Alexa Web tracking site.