Daily Archives: March 8, 2011

Chinese govt says Dalai Lama must reincarnate properly

Reuters | Mar 7, 2011

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard Sui-lee Wee And Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, does not have a right to choose his successor any way he wants and must follow the historical and religious tradition of reincarnation, a Chinese official said Monday.

It is unclear how the 76-year-old Dalai Lama, who lives in India and is revered by many Tibetans, plans to pick his successor. He has said that the succession process could break with tradition — either by being hand-picked by him or through democratic elections.

But Padma Choling, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet, said that the Dalai Lama had no right to abolish the institution of reincarnation, underscoring China’s hardline stance on one of the most sensitive issues for the restless and remote region.

“I don’t think this is appropriate. It’s impossible, that’s what I think,” he said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, when asked about the Dalai Lama’s suggestion that his successor may not be his reincarnation.

“We must respect the historical institutions and religious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism,” said Padma Choling, a Tibetan and a former soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. “I am afraid it is not up to anyone whether to abolish the reincarnation institution or not.”

The Chinese government says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It also says China has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.

“Tibetan Buddhism has a history of more than 1,000 years, and the reincarnation institutions of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have been carried on for several hundred years,” Padma Choling said.

Some worry that once the Dalai Lama dies, China will simply appoint its own successor, raising the possibility of there being two Dalai Lamas — one recognized by China and the other chosen by exiles or with the blessing of the current Dalai Lama.

In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese government put that boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

Many Tibetans spurn the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama as a fake.

The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting violence to seek Tibet’s independence. He rejects the claim, saying he is just pushing for greater autonomy.

Tibetan protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in March 2008 gave way to torrid violence, with rioters torching shops and turning on residents, especially Han Chinese, who many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.

At least 19 people died in the unrest, which sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Pro-Tibet groups overseas say more than 200 people were killed in a subsequent crackdown.

With the third anniversary of that unrest approaching, Tibet has taken measures to restrict visitors.

Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s hardline Communist Party chief, told reporters the restrictions were due to the “cold winter,” a slew of religious activities and limited number of hotels.

“This is in accordance with national laws,” he said.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops marched in 1950. It says its rule has bought much needed development to a poor and backward region.

Exiles and rights groups accuse China of failing to respect Tibet’s unique religion and culture and of suppressing its people.

Defense Secretary Gates says killing of Afghan boys a “setback”


In this Department of Defense handout photo released by the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is greeted by Gen. David Petreaus upon his arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, March 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Department of Defensed, Cherie Cullen)

Reuters | Mar 7, 2011

By Missy Ryan Missy Ryan

KABUL (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates described the mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys by NATO aircraft as a “setback” on Monday as the issue overshadowed a visit to Afghanistan to assess security progress.

Gates met Afghan President Hamid Karzai on an unannounced trip to Kabul and repeated Washington’s apology for the killing of the boys last week by NATO helicopters, which has increased strain on an already testy relationship with Afghan leaders.

“Not only is their loss a tragedy for their families, it is a setback for our relationship with the Afghan people,” Gates told a media conference with Karzai.

Karzai complained angrily on the eve of Gates’s visit, rejecting an earlier and surprisingly candid apology by General David Petraeus, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Civilian casualties were the greatest strain on relations with Washington, the Afghan leader said. International concern has also grown and the fallout from recent incidents threatens to hamper peace and reconciliation efforts.

Karzai will soon unveil a timetable for the start of a handover of security responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans. The process is to begin gradually in July, with all foreign combat forces to be gone by 2014.

Gates is expected to visit parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan where NATO commanders say they have weakened the Taliban and created “bubbles” of security they hope to link up.

Such recent successes meant they should be able to meet President Barack Obama’s July pledge, he said.

“While no decisions on numbers have been made, in my view we will be well-positioned to begin drawing down some U.S. and coalition forces this July even as we redeploy others to different areas of the country,” Gates said.

GROWING ANGER

U.S. and NATO leaders agreed to Karzai’s ambitious timeline for foreign combat troops to leave, and Karzai will announce on March 21 where and when the transition will begin.

But civilian casualties have clouded the relationship and diverted attention from transition plans after a spate of recent incidents.

Analysts said making strong statements over civilian casualties allowed Karzai to rally public support, but would have little long-term effect because his relations with Washington were already so badly strained.

“That being said, there is legitimate and growing anger within Afghanistan over ISAF-caused deaths,” said Joshua Foust, a fellow at the American Security Project.

The nine boys were killed while collecting firewood in volatile Kunar province. Karzai said on Sunday apologies were “not enough” and that civilian casualties caused by foreign troops were no longer acceptable.

There have been at least four similar incidents, mainly in the east, in the past three weeks.

Obama has also expressed his deep regret. U.N. figures show that insurgents are responsible for three-quarters of civilian casualties, although it is those caused by foreign forces that rile ordinary Afghans the most.

On Sunday, hundreds of Afghans chanting “Death to America” protested against civilian casualties in Kabul.

U.S. and NATO commanders have tightened procedures for using air strikes and night raids in recent years, but mistaken killings of innocent Afghans still happen, especially with U.S. and NATO forces stepping up operations against insurgents.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose 20 percent to 6,215 in the first 10 months of 2010 compared with 2009, according to the latest U.N. report. Those caused by foreign and Afghan troops accounted for 12 percent, an 18 percent drop.

Major General John Campbell, ISAF commander in the east, said 90 percent of civilian casualties in his area were caused by insurgents.

US, allies edge toward military options for Libya


Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at the Conservative spring forum, in Cardiff March 5, 2011.REUTERS/Toby Melville

Associated Press | Mar 7, 2011

By Matthew Lee And Bradley Klapper

WASHINGTON – The U.S. and its NATO allies edged closer Monday to formulating a military response to the escalating violence in Libya as the alliance boosted surveillance flights over the country and the Obama administration signaled it might be willing to help arm Moammar Gadhafi’s opponents. Europe, meanwhile, kick-started international efforts to impose a no-fly zone.

It still appeared unlikely that U.S. warplanes or missiles would soon deploy in Libya, which may be sliding toward civil war, but the ongoing violence increased pressure on Washington to do something or spell out its plan.

The violence “perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable,” President Barack Obama declared as he authorized $15 million in new humanitarian aid to assist and evacuate people fleeing the fighting. And he warned those still loyal to Gadhafi that they will be held to account for a violent crackdown that continued Monday with warplanes launching multiple airstrikes on opposition fighters seeking to advance on Tripoli.

“I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col. Gadhafi,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings. “It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place.”

The president spoke as U.S. military planes shuttled between Europe and Tunisia, ferrying in supplies and taking out some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled across the Libyan border. As international humanitarian efforts stepped up, Obama said NATO was consulting about “a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.”

As a first step, NATO agreed on Monday to increase AWACs surveillance flights over Libya from 10 to 24 hours a day to give the alliance a better picture of both the humanitarian and military situations on the ground, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder told reporters. NATO’s governing body is meeting over the next two days to come up with contingency plans for military operations to be considered at a Thursday meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels, he said.

Meanwhile, Britain and France were drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone over Libya aimed at protecting Gadhafi’s foes from military air strikes, diplomats said. U.S. officials said a no-fly zone remains an option but suggested there was little enthusiasm for such a complex and expensive operation and questioned whether it would actually serve its intended purpose.

“When you really look at what is going on, we have actually seen a decrease in both fighters and overall air activity over Libya,” Daalder said. “The kinds of capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and indeed the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said a military response was no more likely now than it was before the surge in violence. But, he said arming the rebels was a possibility even as officials denied a report that the U.S. had asked Saudi Arabia to provide weapons to rebels fighting Gadhafi and other officials noted it would violate a U.N. arms embargo imposed on Libya last week.

“It is one of the range of options that is being considered,” Carney said of the idea. Yet, he cautioned that there were still many unanswered questions about what groups comprise those forces and whether it would be prudent to arm them.

“I think that it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we’re pursuing,” Carney said.

At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley pointed out that arming the rebels would be illegal unless the U.N. arms embargo were modified or lifted.

“There is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it’s a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya,” he said. “That is not permitted. But, depending on how events unfold, there are a wide range of options available to the international community.”

Hundreds of people have died since Libya’s uprising began, although tight restrictions on media make it nearly impossible to get an accurate tally.

The U.S. and United Nations have imposed sanctions on Gadhafi’s regime, and U.S. military forces have also moved closer to Libya’s shores to back up demands that Gadhafi step down.

China challenges US predominance in Asia-Pacific


In this July 26, 2010, file photo rleased by China’s Xinhua News Agency on July 29, 2010, a warship launches a missile during a live-ammunition military drill held by the South China Sea Fleet of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea. During the past two decades, China has developed air, naval and missile capabilities that appear focused on undercutting America’s superiority in China’s backyard. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Pu Haiyang)

Associated Press | Mar 7, 2011

By Matthew Pennington

WASHINGTON – When China launched threatening war games off Taiwan 15 years ago on the eve of an election on the self-governing island, the U.S. deployed two aircraft carriers, and China quickly backed down.

Things don’t seem so one-sided any more.

China’s military has been on a spending spree at a time that the debt-ridden U.S. government is looking to cut defense costs. On Friday, China announced a 12.7 percent hike for this year, the latest in a string of double-digit increases.

That trend has triggered worries in Congress and among security analysts about whether the United States can maintain its decades-long military predominance in the economically crucial Asia-Pacific.

While the U.S. military has been drained by 10 years of costly conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, China has developed air, naval and missile capabilities that could undercut U.S. superiority in China’s backyard.

China is still decades away from building a military as strong as the United States. It has not fought a major conflict since a border war with Vietnam in 1979 and is not a Soviet-style rival threatening American soil.

But the shift raises questions about whether the U.S. can meet its commitment to maintain a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific for decades — a matter not just of global prestige but also seen as critical for safeguarding shipping lanes vital for world trade and protecting allies.

China already has an innate geographical advantage in any conflict in the west Pacific. One expert posits that with its military buildup, China could conquer Taiwan by the end of the decade even if the U.S. military intervenes.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory. Relations between the two, long seen as a potential flash point, have warmed in the past two years. But China’s assertion of territorial claims in the South China Sea, which it has declared as a “core interest” — essentially something it could go to war over — has spooked its neighbors and fortified their support for a strong U.S. presence in the region. Even former enemy Vietnam is forging military ties with the U.S.

Last week, the Philippines deployed two warplanes after a ship searching for oil complained it was harassed by two Chinese patrol boats in the South China Sea. Japan scrambled F-15 fighter jets after Chinese surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft flew near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

“As China’s military has gotten more capable and China has behaved more aggressively, a number of countries are looking at the U.S. as a hedge to make sure they can maintain independence, security and stability,” said Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

But those allies question whether the U.S. can retain its freedom to operate in the region, and whether its economy — highly indebted to China and struggling to recover from a recession — can sustain its high level of military spending, said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center of Strategic and International Studies think tank.

The U.S. Pacific Command has 325,000 personnel, five aircraft carrier strike groups, 180 ships and nearly 2,000 aircraft. Tens of thousands of forces stay on China’s doorstep at long-established bases in South Korea and Japan.

China’s defense spending is still dwarfed by the United States. Even if China really invests twice as much in its military as its official $91.5 billion budget, which some analysts believe, that is still only about a quarter of U.S. spending. It has no aircraft carriers and lags the U.S. in defense technology. Some of its most vaunted recent military advances will take years to reach operation.

For example, China test flew its stealth fighter in January, months earlier than U.S. intelligence expected, but U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says China will still only have a couple of hundred of these “fifth-generation” jets by 2025, when the United States should have 1,500.

But China’s growing array of aircraft, naval and submarine vessels, ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-satellite and cyber war capabilities already enable it to project power beyond its shores. It plans new submarines, larger naval destroyers and transport aircraft that could expand that reach further.

Roger Cliff, a respected defense researcher who recently testified before a congressional hearing on China, says many of the missiles and strike aircraft have a range of about 900 miles, which put them within attacking distance of virtually all U.S. air and naval bases in the region. They include the DF-21D missile which is designed to target aircraft carriers. It employs technology that no other U.S. rival has mastered. It does not appear to have been tested yet against a maneuvering target at sea.

Cliff said if trends continue, China should have sufficient missiles and precision bombs by the end of the decade to render inoperable for a week or more all airfields on Taiwan and U.S. air bases in Okinawa, Japan, and possibly others farther away. He said there are between 40 and 50 Chinese air bases within 500 miles of Taiwan, each generally hosting a squadron of 24 aircraft, which could overwhelm superior U.S. aircraft through sheer numbers. If China acquired amphibious landing vehicles, he forecast it could conquer Taiwan.

If U.S. military planners are worried about that possibility, they aren’t showing it. They say plans to cap defense spending within five years won’t derail modernization plans. Pacific Command chief Adm. Robert Willard said last month that while the U.S. carefully watches China’s growing military capabilities — and urges greater openness from China about them — the United States does not need to change its strategy.

China maintains it does not have offensive intentions, and analysts say that military action in the region would hurt its export-driven economy which could threaten what its government prizes above all else — domestic stability. The U.S. military presence may also benefit China as it restrains neighbors like South Korea and Japan from seeking nuclear weapons.

As U.S. and Chinese forces increasingly rub up against each other in the west Pacific, the U.S. says it wants to promote military ties with China to prevent a chance skirmish and for China to develop as a “responsible major power.” To date, China has been reluctant to engage meaningfully after the recent restoration of military ties that were cut over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

“This is not the Cold War with two rival camps facing each other,” said Michael Schiffer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. “We are seeking a military-military relationship that is broad and deep enough to manage our differences while expanding on areas of common interest.”

Catholic church official faces criminal charges for protecting dozens of pedophile priests


In this undated photo released by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, Monsignor William Lynn is shown. Lynn, the former secretary of clergy under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is charged with felony endangerment according to a grand jury report released Thursday Feb, 10, 2011. Prosecutors say Lynn transferred abusive priests to new parishes with schools and youth groups without warning parish officials. AP

William Lynn first high-ranking church official to face child endangerment charges; Dozens accused of abuse remain in active ministry

CBS | Mar 7, 2011

By Elaine Quijano

Phil Gaughan can’t bring himself to talk about it in detail, but said when he was a teenager, he was sexually abused by a catholic priest, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.

“It just can’t happen to anybody else,” Gaughan said. “Nobody should have deal with what I’ve dealt with for 15 years, the way that I felt and no child should ever have to go through this again.”

After years of silence, Gaughan is publicly filing suit against top officials in the Philadelphia archdiocese, who he said failed to protect him from a predator priest. One of those named in his civil lawsuit is Monsignor William Lynn.

Lynn is already facing charges in a separate criminal case. For 12 years, Lynn was in charge of recommending work assignments for priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese. The district attorney believes Lynn knowingly recommended abusive priests be reassigned, without ever warning the parishes.

“They did in fact re-offend,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “They did in fact rape and sodomize other children.”

Lynn has now become the first high-ranking U.S. church official ever to face criminal child endangerment charges for allegedly covering-up abuse. But prosecutors said there are other problems.

Allegations against Lynn resulted from a 124-page grand jury report that concludes, “Apparent abusers – dozens of them, we believe – remain on duty in the Archdiocese, today, with open access to new young prey.”

For now, the archdiocese has suspended three priests, but according to the report, 34 others accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior with minors remain in active ministry.

The archdiocese has hired a former prosecutor to re-examine past cases.

“I will not turn my back on evidence of a cover up,” said Gina Smith.

The archdiocese is not commenting on recent legal action, but church officials have vowed to do better.

“We have now taken action and we hope that our actions speak to our resolve,” said Bishop Daniel Thomas with the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

That’s little comfort to Gaughan, who hopes by coming forward he’s giving children the protection he never had.

 

British Lord maintains silence over his contacts with Prince Andrew’s pedophile financier friend


Silence: Peter Mandelson did not answer when asked about why convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein had ten entries for him and his partner Reinaldo da Silva

Peter Mandelson stays silent over his contact with Prince Andrew’s disgraced financier friend

Daily Mail | Mar 7, 2011

By Vanessa Allen

Lord Mandelson yesterday maintained his silence over the extent of his contact with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The former Business Secretary did not respond to questions about why the convicted paedophile’s ‘little black book’ featured ten entries for him and his partner Reinaldo da Silva.

The online contacts book had 16 numbers for Prince Andrew and home numbers for politicians including Lord Heseltine and former Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward. There were also details of girls working at massage parlours.

Epstein had assembled a powerful network of contacts encompassing the worlds of politics, business, royalty and celebrity and even Bill Clinton.

The inclusion of Lord Mandelson and an office address for Tony Blair has raised questions about the extent of his relationship with the Labour government.

But last night – some 48 hours after the link between Epstein and Lord Mandelson emerged – the former Labour spin doctor was still refusing to comment about his dealings with the disgraced billionaire.

Virginia Roberts, the teenage masseuse allegedly recruited as a ‘sex slave’ for Epstein, said she remembered seeing Lord Mandelson at the financier’s townhouse in New York.

She told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I never heard of Jeffrey knowing Tony Blair, but he did know Peter Mandelson.

‘I remember him being at the house in New York and I was introduced to him at a dinner party. He and Jeffrey talked business together. I assumed they were in business together. I was never asked to give him [Mandelson] a massage.’

The Duke of York stayed at the townhouse, just off Central Park, for four days before Christmas.

He and Lord Mandelson have worked together in the past because of the duke’s role as a special representative for international trade and investment, part of the peer’s then portfolio as business secretary. The former MP was also an EU commissioner for Trade.

The two men have a close mutual friend, the Kazakh socialite and businesswoman Goga Ashkenazi, and both attended her 30th birthday party in February last year.Lord Mandelson was also hired to speak at two events organised by a stock company owned by the Kazakh government and effectively run by the President’s son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev.

Mr Kulibayev bought Prince Andrew’s former marital home, Sunninghill, three years ago for £15million – £3million above the asking price.

The entries in Epstein’s contacts book for Lord Mandelson included direct lines, home numbers, an email address and a fax and mobile number for Mr da Silva. Many are now out of date.That the entry for Mr Blair was only an office address suggests the two men had few, if any, dealings.

Lord Heseltine said last night that he did not remember ever meeting Epstein or having any contact with him. Mr Woodward was unavailable for comment.

A printout of Epstein’s online contacts book was subpoenaed for use in a civil case against him. It includes numbers for massage businesses in Britain, France, the Virgin Islands and the U.S.

Duchess of York apologizes for taking loans from US pedophile


The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson arrives at the third annual Quill Awards honoring books and authors in New York, Monday, Oct. , 22, 2007. AP

Britain’s royal family has yet another distraction to worry about as they plan a royal wedding.

CBS | Mar 7, 2011

Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife,  has confirmed that she received financial help from a convicted American sex offender to pay off her debts, confessing that she knew nothing about his background and promising to return the money.

Andrew, the queen’s second son and Prince William’s uncle, has faced various troubles of his own in the past, including being photographed with a teenage prostitute. The British media also revealed his close ties with U.S. pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and one of Libyan leader’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi.

Related

In an interview published by newspaper Evening Standard on Monday, March 7, Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, vowed to return the  $24,000 to billionaire businessman Epstein, apologizing for her “gigantic error of judgment.”

“I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me,” she apologetically declared in the interview.

She initially reached out for financial help to settle a debt to her formal personal assistant, Johnny O’Sullivan. According to the Evening Standard, she owed O’Sullivan 78,000 pounds for unpaid wages and other bills.

“I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again,” she said in the interview.

Ferguson claims that she was not directly involved in the transaction which allegedly took place in Andrew’s office.

Later in the interview, she defended her former husband, stating, “”He is a first-rate father; he’s a first-rate man, the finest that I know. I will not have his name tarnished by me yet again. Look at all that he has done for the country. He works tirelessly.”

Prince Andrew Photographed With 17-Year-Old ‘Erotic Masseuse’

Andrew’s Friendship With Billionaire Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Causes Storm

ABC | Mar. 7, 2011

By OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN

The latest scandal to rock the British royal family is intensifying today as some U.K. lawmakers call for Prince Andrew to step down from his job as trade envoy because of his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, an American billionaire convicted of soliciting underage prostitutes.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two prostitution offenses after being accused by prosecutors of paying several underage girls to give him naked massages, incidents which sometimes turned into sexual activity. Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in prison and one year under house arrest. He served 13 months and was released in July 2009.

Prince Andrew, who has known Epstein since 2000, attended a party to celebrate Epstein’s release from prison and house arrest, spent time in Epstein’s Florida home and was photographed with his arm around the waist of a 17-year-old who claims that Epstein abused her. The minor says she was hired as an erotic masseuse by Epstein.

Related

A photograph of the prince walking with Epstein through Central Park in December 2010 has also surfaced in the press.

According to Britain’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable, it is up to Prince Andrew whether to continue with his job as trade envoy.

“He is not a government employee,” Cable said.

Andrew has held the position as Britain’s special representative for international trade and investment since 2001. Because it’s a position he volunteered for, he cannot be fired.

“Obviously there are conversations that will take place with him about what he is to do in future. That is simply a matter of managing the relationship,” Cable said in an interview with the BBC.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement this morning saying that Andrew, the queen’s second son, “has the support of the government and continues to be fully committed to that role.”

Prince Andrew has also been accused of having ties to Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime. He hosted Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, shortly before the popular uprising occurred in Libya.

But the palace stands behind Andrew. “It was part of the British government’s engagement with Libya at the time,” said a palace spokesman of the prince’s meetings with Seif al-Islam Gadhafi.

Full Story

It’s Toothaches for Children of the Recession

In This Economy, a Trip to the Dentist Often at Bottom of Priorities

In today’s economy, folks struggling just to put food on the table are not worried about the dentist, but this is tough for children. Cynthia Bowers continues the series, “Children of the Recession.”

CBS | Mar 7, 2011

By Cynthia Bowers

Lynda Paskiewicz and her family at the free dental clinic in La Crosse, Wisconsin. (CBS)

(CBS)  Eight-year-old Mikey Paskiewicz and his 7-year-old sister, Lulu love to bowl.

Their mother Lynda is just as passionate about the kids brushing their teeth. She even sets a timer to prevent shortcuts.

The family has been without dental insurance ever since Lynda lost her job at a western Wisconsin boat maker two years ago, reports CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

“I was more or less relying on God to take care of us,” she said.

So Paskiewicz felt her prayers were answered, when the Wisconsin Dental Association recently staged a mission of mercy: free dental care to anyone, at a La Crosse sports arena.

Over two days, more than 1,300 people came calling. Some waiting all night, many with children.

Lynda Paskiewicz drove an hour, before dawn, so her children could make their first-ever visit to the dentist.

“Without this, I don’t know what we could have done because she needs care now. He needs care now. I can use care now,” she said.

They’re not alone. It’s estimated that some 12 million children face serious barriers to dental care, involving either high cost or lack of dental insurance.

“If there’s nothing left at the end of the day, health care is what suffers the most,” said Shelley Bolton who attended the clinic.

Clinics like the one in La Crosse help. But in this economy, with folks struggling just to put food on the table and pay their mortgages, a trip to the dentist is often the first thing to go.

In fact, a recent survey found 36 percent of Americans have cut back on regular visits because of the cost.

Dr. Gene Shoemaker helped organize the volunteer effort. He worries that parents trying to save money on dental care now will pay far more later.

“By the time it hurts somebody, it usually involves more treatment — which means more cost and more time to the patient,” he said.

And the result can be disastrous. Two years ago, a homeless 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver died from an infection that started with a cavity and spread to his brain.

“Our goal is to get those teeth taken care of before it becomes a problem to that tragic degree,” said Shoemaker.

Lynda Paskiewicz knows it’s been risky to delay trips to the dentist. But the news this day was pretty good. Lulu had two small cavities. Mikey needed a baby tooth pulled.

And a few days later, Lynda started a new job that offers dental benefits. Another prayer answered for the Paskiewicz family, but something that remains only a distant hope for millions of others.

China now owns $1.16 trillion of U.S. debt

CBS | Feb 28, 2011

(Credit: CBS/AP)

(AP) WASHINGTON – China, the biggest buyer of U.S. Treasury securities, owns a lot more than previously estimated.

In an annual revision of the figures, the Treasury Department said Monday that China’s holdings totaled $1.16 trillion at the end of December. That was an increase of 30 percent from an estimate the government made two weeks ago.

The government made the change to its monthly report based on more accurate information it obtains in an annual survey. That survey more does a better job of determining the actual owners of Treasury securities.

China was firmly in the top spot as the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury debt even before the revisions. But the big increase in Chinese holdings could ease fears that Chinese investors might begin dumping their U.S. holdings. Such a development could send U.S. interest rates rising. That would slow America’s economic recovery and increase Washington’s costs for financing the $14.3 trillion national debt.

China and Britain were the countries with the biggest revisions in the new report.

The amount of U.S. Treasury securities held by Britain fell to $272.1 billion in the new report. That’s a drop of $269.2 billion from the last monthly report which put the Britain’s holdings of U.S. debt at $541.3 billion. The holdings of the two countries often show big revisions when the annual report is released.

The reason for the change is that Chinese investors who purchase their Treasury securities in London are often counted as British investors. The more detailed annual report does a better job of tracking the countries in which investors reside as opposed to the location where investors make their purchases.

Even with the revision, Britain remained the third largest holder of U.S. Treasurys.

Japan had the second highest foreign holdings, totaling $882.3 billion at the end of December. The revision was only slightly below the original estimate.

The total foreign holdings of Treasury debt stood at $4.44 trillion at the end of December, according to the new report. That’s up 1.5 percent from the estimate made two weeks ago. About two-thirds of U.S. Treasurys owned overseas are held by foreign governments and central banks.

The U.S. government is selling huge amounts of debt to finance record-high budget deficits. The Obama administration in its new budget released on Feb. 14 projected that this year’s deficit will reach a record $1.65 trillion. It would be the third consecutive year the federal deficit has exceeded $1 trillion.