Margaret Thatcher buried in grand funeral
Britain bids adieu to the Iron Lady, anti-Putin blogger stands trial, and New Zealand legalizes gay marriage. Today is Wednesday, April 17, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
The Bearer Party, made up of eight personnel from all three armed services, carries the coffin of former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, after her funeral service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth.
Lady Thatcher laid to rest. While former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral went off mostly without incident today, the price tag gave her critics pause:
Polls have shown that many are unhappy that the estimated 10-million-pound ($15 million) bill for the ceremonial funeral is being picked up by taxpayers, while some left-wing lawmakers say the pomp-filled event is excessive. Honored with a gun salute from the Tower of London every minute and the silencing of the Big Ben bell, British soldiers played Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Chopin to accompany the grandest funeral for a British politician since that of Thatcher’s hero, Winston Churchill, in 1965.
Thousands of her admirers lined the streets to pay respects as her casket was carried from Westminster to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the service took place. Some expressed their criticism of Thatcher by turning their backs and booing as the procession passed. Queen Elizabeth, top British officials and international dignitaries attended the event. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was notably snubbed, denied an invitation on request of the Thatcher family and amid renewed tension over the Falkland Islands. Thatcher is remembered as a divisive leader, faulted by some for increasing inequality and credited by others for returning Britain to prosperity.
Dissident Russian blogger claims trumped up charges in trial. Russian anti-corruption blogger and protest leader Alexei Navalny said that charges against him were falsified and that he was “completely innocent” as his trial starts today:
Navalny could face 10 years in jail if convicted of stealing 16 million roubles ($510,000) from a timber firm in Kirov that he was advising in 2009 while working for the liberal regional governor. Navalny, the most prominent opposition leader to be tried in post-Soviet Russia, has suggested [President Vladimir] Putin ordered the trial to sideline a potential presidential rival.
Navalny began to campaign online against state corruption in 2007 and spoke at anti-Putin protests, gaining support from urban youth and members of the middle class, but only a third of Russians even know who he is. Before the trial began, Navalny said he expects to be found guilty because Putin fears him as a political opponent. The Russian president distanced himself from the case, saying through a spokesman that he will not be following the trial.
New Zealanders cheer gay marriage legalization. Supporters applauded and sang a traditional Maori celebration song as New Zealand became the thirteenth country to allow same-sex marriage:
Seventy-seven of 121 members of parliament voted in favor of amending the current 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so. “Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality,” Louisa Wall, the openly gay opposition Labor Party MP who promoted the bill, told reporters after the vote. “It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country.”
The Roman Catholic Church and other conservative groups opposed the bill, which permits clergy to refuse to preside over gay marriages. Onlookers expected the bill to pass easily, following a 2005 law allowing civil unions. Uruguay approved a gay marriage bill last week.
Nota Bene: French riot police wear gas masks and bear shields as they clash with environmentalists protesting the construction of a new airport.
Price not right – Italian-food lovers are saddened as tomatoes fall off menus in Brazil following price increases. (BBC)
China’s cancer scare – Citizens fear rising cancer rates as pollution plagues China. (The New York Times)
Controversial protests doused – Tibetans have turned from protesting Chinese rule by lighting themselves on fire to joining a peaceful resistance movement. (Time)
Counting chickens – The Muslim Brotherhood published a book on Egyptian President Morsi’s achievements in office. (Egypt Independent)
Code cracking – John Kerry attempts to understand the calculations of leaders in Iran and North Korea. (The Wall Street Journal)
Too handsome for Saudi Arabia – Religious police ejected three men from a festival for their irresistible charm. (The Telegraph)
From the File:
- Rockets hit southern Israeli resort in Eilat
- Russian PM Medvedev defends record after Putin’s warning
- Mubarak retrial to begin on May 11
- Northeast Japan jolted by magnitude 5.8 quake, no tsunami warning
- Suu Kyi says Myanmar’s Muslims must be made to feel secure