Union leader eats finger
A union official who chopped off his finger and ate it in a protest over wages that in some cases have not been paid in years, said on Monday he did it to show how desperate he and other workers were. “We, the workers have nothing to eat, we had to seek some sort of alternative food and I gave them an example,” Zoran Bulatovic said. “It hurt like hell.” Bulatovic, a union leader at the Raska Holding textile factory in Novi Pazar, used a hacksaw to cut off most of his left-hand little finger on Friday. Bulatovic said he decided to act after his deputy, “a single mother of three, was the first to say she would cut off her finger. I could not allow her to do that,” he said.
Six questioned on draft tips
Police questioned six people on Monday who allegedly gave tips over the Internet on how to avoid the draft. The six are members of New Profile and Objective 21, which advocates refusal to serve in the Israeli military. They were released after questioning. Documents were also seized from their homes. Military service is compulsory for Israelis over 18, with most Arabs exempted. Anyone found guilty of instigating refusal to serve in the army can be jailed for up to 15 years.
Amnesty urges protection
Amnesty International on Monday urged the government to ensure the safety of nine men freed last week after a court overturned jail convictions for homosexuality, saying they were at risk of homophobic attacks. “The decision of the court of appeal in Dakar to release them after they initially received an eight-year sentence is welcome. But it needs to be followed by concrete action from the authorities to ensure the men are safe from possible homophobic attacks,” Veronique Aubert, deputy director of Amnesty’s Africa Progam said in a press release.
Lockerbie appeal set
The Libyan jailed for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was to begin appealing his conviction yesterday. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, has spent 10 years behind bars for the 1988 terrorist attack that killed 270 people. Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah were prosecuted in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2001 for the bombing. Fhimah was acquitted. Al-Megraphi has always said he had nothing to do with the attack, and while he lost an appeal in 2002 he was granted another two years ago following a major legal review.
Cyber security touted
The European Commission urged member governments on Monday to jointly beef up defenses against cyber attacks to protect large computer networks that run energy and water distribution, air and road traffic control systems, banking and other critical services. “Cyber attacks have become a tool in the hands of organized crime, a means of blackmailing companies and organizations [and] an instrument of foreign and military policy” that can threaten democracy and economies, Commissioner for Information Society Viviane Reding said. Reding called for the appointment of an EU “Cyber Cop” in a video message marking Monday’s opening of a two-day meeting in Talinn, Estonia, on cyberspace security cooperation.
Formal ties with Palestine
Palestinian officials established formal ties on Monday with Caracas and opened a diplomatic mission in the South American country. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki thanked President Hugo Chavez’s government for its support during the recent Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which prompted the Chavez administration to break off relations with Israel. The country’s relations with Palestinians have warmed as tensions have grown between Chavez’s government and Israel. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the Palestinian cause was “like our own,” while al-Malki praised Chavez as “the most popular leader in the Arab world,” in part for his staunch support of Palestinians.