Labor Party mired in scandal:
A little-known British millionaire has secretly given the Labor Party more than $1 million under other people’s names over the past four years, British newspapers reported last week. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labor Party said this week he knew nothing about the illegal donations, made by
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real estate developer David Abrahams. Brown called for a full police investigation. But Abrahams said that at least 10 top Labor officials knew of the proxy donations. He also said he was merely seeking to protect his privacy and that he had no idea his actions were illegal. The scandal has already taken a toll on the ruling party: A new opinion poll put the Conservative Party 11 points ahead of Labor—its biggest lead since the 1980s.
Dirty books on display: France’s National Library this week launched its first exhibit from its “Hell” section of erotica, amassed over 170 years. The collection, long off-limits to everyone but scholars, is believed to be one of the largest stashes of pornography in the world. A small part of the collection—some 350 books and prints exploring sadism, scatology, and other topics—will be on display for the next three months. A few works are by famous artists, such as the poet Baudelaire and the surrealist Man Ray. A series of sketches of scenes of debauchery came from the private collection of Leon Gambetta, a 19th-century French prime minister. “Attitudes toward sexuality and eroticism have changed today,” said curator Marie-Francoise Quignard. “There is a great interest in the connections between literature, art, and pornography.”
Sarkozy to the rescue: French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this week he would redouble his efforts to free Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian citizen held hostage by Colombian rebels since 2002. Betancourt, now 45, had been campaigning for the Colombian presidency when FARC rebels kidnapped her. This week, Colombian authorities received a video of her looking thin and depressed, the first proof in months that she is alive. “I have always said that we would not drop the case of Ingrid Betancourt,” Sarkozy said. “We must battle fiercely to obtain her freedom.” The French president already has had success in negotiating freedom for Europeans held captive; earlier this year, he persuaded Libya to release eight Bulgarian nurses wrongfully convicted of infecting children with AIDS.
Missing man returns: A British man who disappeared five years ago while canoeing along the British coast turned up this week claiming memory loss—and was promptly arrested on suspicion of fraud. John Darwin, 57, walked into a London police station last weekend and announced, “I think I’m a missing person.” He said he has no memories since June 2000, two years before his disappearance. But the London Daily Mirror ran a photo of Darwin and his wife, Anne, purportedly taken in Panama a year ago. Anne recently sold the family home and moved to Panama. The couple is suspected of faking the disappearance to collect insurance and evade debt.
Airlift airport to close: Tempelhof Airport, which hosted American planes for the historic Berlin airlift after World War II, will close next year, German aviation authorities said this week. The huge, ugly terminal is one of the largest remaining examples of Nazi-era architecture. When the Soviets blockaded West Berlin in 1948, Tempelhof served as the hub for the yearlong, U.S.-led program to supply the city by air. In recent years, it has been used only for short, domestic flights. The airport’s landing strips are too small for most modern jets.
Bin Laden warns Europe
Osama bin Laden called on Europeans this week to stop assisting the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan. In an audiotape sent to the media, the al Qaida leader said the U.S. had launched an illegal war against the Afghan people, even though they were not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. “I am responsible,” bin Laden said. “It would be better for you if you restrained your politicians who flock to the White House,” he said, and stopped being “followers of America.” Analysts familiar with al Qaida messages said the warning could be a harbinger of an attack on European civilians.
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