Jail move for George Michael
LONDON – Jailed pop star George Michael has been transferred to a softer Category C prison.
The former Wham! star was moved out of Pentonville Prison on Friday after abandoning plans to apply for bail.
The 47-year-old, whose real name is Georgios Panayiotou, moved to Highpoint Prison in Suffolk.
The singer was jailed last Tuesday for eight weeks after crashing his Range Rover while under the influence of cannabis. (BBC Online)
Afghans brave rockets, bombings to vote
KABUL – Afghans braved Taliban rockets and polling site bombings yesterday to vote for a new parliament in elections seen as a measure of the government’s competence and commitment to democratic rule.
The Interior Ministry said at least 11 civilians and four security forces were killed and dozens more injured in the first nationwide balloting since a fraud-marred presidential election last year undermined international support for President Hamid Karzai. Security has worsened since then, and the Taliban made good on threats to disrupt yesterday’s polling.
Observers had expected the vote to be far from perfect, but hoped it would be accepted by the Afghan people as legitimate.
About 2 500 candidates were vying for 249 seats in parliament.
Afghan security officials dismissed the attacks as “insignificant”, and said they did not hamper voting, adding that 92 per cent of polling stations were open. The Afghan Election Commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi declared the elections were “very successful”.
However, there were reports of voting irregularities and turnout nationwide appeared spotty, though the level of violence was lower than that during last year’s presidential poll when scores of people and security forces were killed. (AP)
Pope says sorry to five abused by priests
LONDON – Pope Benedict XVI apologised yesterday to five people who were molested by priests as children in his latest effort to defuse the sex abuse crisis shaking his church, as thousands of people angered at the Vatican’s response marched in central London in the biggest protest of his five-year papacy.
Benedict met for about 30 to 40 minutes with the victims – four women and a man from Scotland, England and Wales – at the Vatican ambassador’s residence in Wimbledon and expressed “his deep sorrow and shame over what the victims and their families suffered”, according to the Vatican.
“He prayed with them and assured them that the Catholic Church is continuing to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people, and that it is doing all in its power to investigate allegations, to collaborate with civil authorities and to bring to justice clergy and religious accused of these egregious crimes,” it said.
Across town, abuse victims and demonstrators opposed to the pope’s stance against homosexuality, abortion and the use of condoms to fight AIDS marched peacefully from Hyde Park to Downing Street, the major protest of Benedict’s controversial four-day state visit.
They carried banners reading: The Pope Is Wrong – Put A Condom On and Pope Protects Paedophile Priests.
Later yesterday, though, an estimated 80 000 people massed in Hyde Park cheering the pope as he celebrated an evening vigil. (AP)