Reuters blog archive
A heavily guarded operation to dig up ancient graves to make way for a new hospital emergency room has exposed traditional tensions between Israel's Jewish secular majority and ultra-Orthodox minority.
Police said they arrested 15 religious protesters on Sunday outside Barzilai hospital in the coastal town of Ashkelon, where plans to build a treatment facility that could withstand rocket attack from the Gaza Strip turned into a political battle in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government originally decided to move the location of the planned emergency room after the graves were discovered at the site and an ultra-Orthodox coalition partner contended the remains were those of Jews. It reversed that decision last month after a public outcry over the high cost of redrawing the plans and what critics alleged was its surrender to religious pressure.
from Our Take on Your Take:
The tense standoff in Bangkok continues to produce some memorable photos, including this one by Seila Montes of an injured anti-government "red-shirt" protester. The light captured in the man's eye gives the photo a focal point and a point of connection with the audience.
Hanoi Catholics held a ceremony last Friday to welcome the man who is expected to become their new archbishop, but for many on hand – priests and faithful alike – it was a moment of sadness. There were no flowers at the altar of Hanoi’s 124-year-old cathedral welcoming Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, to the role of coadjutor bishop. Outside on the steps, several dozen people brandished banners in protest of what his papal appointment represented.
(French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Europe 1 radio, 2 May 2010/Dailymotion)
France hasn't even presented its draft bill to outlaw Muslim face veils yet -- in contrast to Belgium, which has started voting on its ban -- but Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is already preparing for the wave of criticism from abroad it will provoke. He told Europe 1 radio on Sunday that he'd already warned the government at a cabinet meeting about what to expect.
from Global News Journal:
Punchai is arranging strings of flowers under the imposing statue of King Rama VI at the entrance of Lumphini Park in Bangkok. The statue overlooks one end of the sprawling "red shirt" encampment that occupies a 3 square-km area of downtown Bangkok.
An altar has been set up at the base of the statue of a king who ruled from 1910 to 1925 and is generally credited with paving the way for democractic reforms in the kingdom. He is also the creator of Lumphini Park.
About 3,000 people marched in Beirut on Sunday to demand a secular system in place of the Muslim-Christian sectarianism that permeates politics, employment and family status matters in Lebanon. "Civil marriage, not civil war" was among the banners carried by the mostly young, educated protesters who gathered in response to a campaign on Internet social networking sites. It was Lebanon's first such demonstration in favor of secularism.
Many wore white T-shirts with "What's your sect?" written on the front and "None of your business" on the back.
The New York Times has unearthed a startling paper trail of 25 letters and memos documenting the way a U.S. priest known to have abused up to 200 deaf boys from about 1952 to 1974 was quietly moved to another diocese and the Vatican resisted attempts to defrock him. Their story on the case of Rev. Lawrence Murphy is here, the paper trail here and our story on the Vatican reaction here. Here's another story from our Rome bureau on victims demanding that Benedict open all Vatican files on sex abuse cases and defrock all predator priests.
from Tales from the Trail:
The protests against healthcare reform took an ugly turn on Saturday. Black congressmen told reporters that demonstrators called them the N-word and one representative said he was spat upon.
"This is not the first time the congressman has been called the N-word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans," said a statement from the office of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver.
from Russell Boyce:
With the same ghoulish intrigue that children pull the wings off a fly, the legs off spiders or as motorists slow to look at a scene of a bad accident, I waited to see the pictures from last night's demonstration in Thailand. The "red shirt" wearing supporters of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra promised the world the sight of a million cubic centimetres of blood being drawn from the arms of his supporters and then thrown over Government House to demand that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva call an immediate election. A million is a bold figure that I tried to picture; a thousand cubic centimetres, one litre, so one thousand litre cartons of milk. A more compact notion of the volume would be to visualise a cubic metre of blood; or in more practical terms in the UK the average bath size is 140 litres, so that is just over seven baths filled with blood.
A supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra donates blood during a gathering in Bangkok March 16, 2010. Anti-government protesters will collect one million cubic centimetres of blood to pour outside the Government House in Bangkok, in a symbolic move to denounce the government as part of their demonstration to call for fresh elections. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang