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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Gas Kills

Bush enters Cheney 'torture row'
BBC News

The Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq has focused world attention on tortureUS President George Bush has reiterated his position that the US administration does not condone torture, following comments by Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In an interview, Mr Cheney agreed that a form of torture for terrorism suspects during questioning in order to save American lives was a "no-brainer".

His comments have provoked outrage from anti-torture and human rights groups.

When asked about the remark, President Bush said that the United States does not use torture and was not going to.

The US executive director of Amnesty International said Mr Cheney's gaffe revealed the US administration's true intentions for prisoner interrogation in the future.

"What's really a no-brainer is that no US official, much less a vice-president, should champion torture," said Larry Cox.

US interrogation techniques have been under the spotlight since evidence emerged of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the existence of secret CIA prisons.

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Pope demands action on sex abuse
BBC News

The Catholic Church must take all necessary steps to prevent further occurrences of child sex abuse by clergy, Pope Benedict has said.

The Pope made the comments to a group of visiting bishops from Ireland, where abuse scandals dating back decades have damaged the reputation of the church.

In March, a report from the Archdiocese of Dublin said that more than 100 Catholic priests in Dublin were suspected of having abused children in the last 66 years.

But there have been other scandals in various parts of the world.

In the US, a Boston-based scandal in 2002 led to the prosecutions of a number of priests, large payouts to dozens of victims and allegations of a cover-up by senior clergy.

The Pope was also in a cover-up scandal when a BBC documentary examined a document which allegedly encourages secrecy in dealing with cases of priests abusing children.

The programme Panorama says this was enforced by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope.

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, said the claim was "entirely misleading" but the BBC has stood by the programme.

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Dixie Chicks film ad sparks row
BBC News

The Dixie ChicksDistributors Weinstein Co are "exploring legal action" because NBC rejected ads for their film about the Dixie Chicks' criticism of George Bush.

The film shows the bad public reaction after the band's Natalie Maines said she was "ashamed" Bush came from Texas.

Radio stations later refused to play the band's songs, while their albums were destroyed in the street.

The documentary "Shut Up and Sing" follows the country music group from the gig in 2003 in which Maines made her comment to the release of their latest album, after which they began to tour again.

Harvey Weinstein, the studio's co-owner, said: "It's a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America."

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Corfu children killed by gas leak
BBC News

A note to Christianne from a young girl has been left at the sceneTwo British children who were holidaying with their father were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning on Corfu, Greek officials have confirmed.

A pathologist said very high levels of the gas were found in the bodies of Christianne Shepherd, seven and her brother Robert, six.

The children were found dead in their hotel room next to their father Neil Shepherd and his partner Ruth Beatson.

A letter written in pencil from a child called Ellie was placed on a table close to the scene of the tragedy along with a small paper plate covered in yellow flowers and petals.

The family had been taking a week's holiday for the school half-term break.

The police are preparing to issue charges of negligent manslaughter against the hotel, the BBC has learned.

BBC correspondent Malcolm Brabant said other bungalows in the hotel have been closed as a precautionary measure but the hotel overall has not been evacuated, although it is due to shut soon as the holiday season is coming to an end.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

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