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A line of rescue workers arrives to look for victims in the mudslide near Oso, Washington as e orts continued to locate victims.
e Vatican removed a German bishop
overnight because he spent 31 million
euros ($49.71 million) of Church funds
on an extravagant residence when Pope
Francis was preaching austerity.
It said the atmosphere in the diocese of
Limburg had become such that Bishop
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst could no
longer carry out a "fruitful exercise" of
his ministry there.
Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed the "Bishop
of Bling", had been ordered to stay out
of his diocese temporarily last October
during a local Church investigation and
audit of cost over-runs. He o ered his
resignation at the time.
A statement said the Vatican
department that oversees bishops had
now studied the investigation's ndings
and accepted his resignation.
e 108-page report for the German
Bishops' Conference said Tebartz-
van Elst had demanded that all those
involved in the project should observe
"strict secrecy" about its costs.
It said the accounting and construction
procedures used "a system that was not
transparent either to the diocese or the
public", adding that the bishop "alone
must also carry the full responsibility"
because he did not share information.
Another prelate, Monsignor Manfred
Grothe, has been appointed to run
the diocese as an administrator on the
Vatican's behalf for the time being and
a position will be found for Tebartz-van
Elst in due course, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis has been urging Church
o cials around the world to live simpler
lives and to get closer to the poor.
He has several times told bishops not
to live like princes and has renounced the
spacious papal apartments in the Vatican's
Apostolic Palace for much more modest
quarters in a Church guest house.
Last year, Francis showed his irritation
over the a air by keeping Tebartz-van
Elst waiting for eight days in Rome
before receiving him in the Vatican.
German media, citing o cial
documents, said the Limburg residence
had been tted with a free-standing
bath that cost 15,000 euros, a conference
table that cost 25,000 euros and a private
chapel for 2.9 million euros.
"It is very important for the Church
in all of Germany to draw the necessary
conclusions . . . this applies especially
to transparency in Church nances,"
Alois Glueck, president of the Central
Committee of German Catholics, the
main lay association in Germany, said.
Tebartz-van Elst has apologised for
any "carelessness or misjudgment on my
part", but he denies any wrongdoing.
e a air has deeply embarrassed
a German Catholic Church that had
been enjoying an upswing in popularity
because of Francis's wide personal appeal
and after years of criticism for covering
up sexual abuse cases among the clergy.
Tebartz-van Elst, 54, is still 21 years
away from o cial retirement age in the
Church. He will retain the title and rank
of bishop but the Vatican will probably
want to put him in a low-pro le job.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Hope buried in mudslide
Search teams picked through mud-
caked debris for a fth day looking
for scores of people still missing from
a deadly Washington State landslide,
while local o cials fended o criticism
of property development in the area
after previous slides.
e known death toll stood at 24, with
as many as 176 people still unaccounted
for near the rural town of Oso, where
a rain-soaked hillside collapsed on
Saturday, cascaded over a river and
engulfed dozens of homes on the
Residents of the stricken community
and nearby towns braced for an expected
rise in the casualty count as hope faded
that anyone else would be plucked alive
from the cement-like muck and debris
that blanketed an area covering about
2.6 square kilometres.
"My son's best friend is out there
missing," John Pugh, 47, a National
Guardsman who lives in the
neighbouring village of Darrington, said.
"My daughter's maid of honour's parents
are missing. It's raw. And it will be for a
Crews painstakingly combing through
the disaster zone under cloudy skies took
advantage of a break from rain showers
to push ahead in their search for more
At the same time, authorities sought to
whittle down their list of unaccounted
for individuals, with missing-persons
detectives from the Snohomish County
Sheri 's O ce working to resolve likely
redundancies on a roster of people whose
fate remained unknown.
County o cials also started to address
criticism for allowing new home
construction on parts of the disaster
site after a 2006 landslide in the same
vicinity, which itself followed numerous
reports detailing the risks of slides dating
back to the 1950s.
A 1999 study by geologist Daniel
Miller for the United States Army
Corps of Engineers had warned of the
potential for a "large catastrophic failure"
in the area, about 90km north-east of
Speaking to reporters overnight,
the county's emergency management
director, John Pennington, said local
authorities had spent millions of dollars
on work to reduce landslide risks in the
area after the 2006 event.
He suggested that while o cials and
residents were aware of vulnerability to
unstable hill slopes, Saturday's tragedy
came out of the blue.
"We really did a great job of mitigating
the potential for smaller slides to
come in and impact the community,"
Pennington said. "So from 2006 to this
point, the community did feel safe; they
fully understood the risks."
But he also said: "People knew that this
is a landslide-prone area. Sometimes big
events just happen. Sometimes large
events that nobody sees happens. And
this event happened, and I want to nd
out why. I don't have those answers right
Search and rescue operations tapered
o overnight but ramped up to full
strength again at rst light. Searchers
used dogs to pinpoint possible locations
of victims, as well as electronic
equipment such as listening devices and
cameras capable of probing voids in the
"We're not backing o . We're still going
at this with all eight cylinders to get
everyone out there who is unaccounted
for," local re chief Travis Hots said.
e tally of known dead rose from 14
to 24 when county o cials reported
that search crews labouring in a steady
drizzle had recovered two more bodies
from the disaster zone and located the
remains of eight additional victims.
e rising death toll added to a
deepening sense of gloom in the cluster
of riverfront towns near the site of the
"Just about everybody you see here
going about their day knows people up
there," Martin McCaulley, 22, a lumber
mill security guard in Darrington, said
as he stood in that town's supermarket.
" is is a community that you can't
drive down the street without waving 20
O cials said they were still hopeful
that many of those listed as missing
would turn out to have been double-
counted or were slow to alert family and
o cials of their whereabouts.
Pennington said he expected to have
updated gures later in the day on the
number of missing individuals, and
presumably the death toll.
Eight people were injured in the slide,
including a 22-week-old infant rescued
with his mother and listed in critical
condition, though hospital o cials said
the baby was improving. e mother and
three other survivors also remained in
Although authorities have said chances
were low of nding more sur vivors in
the thick mud blanketing the landscape,
Hots said about 50 more searchers had
been brought in to sift through the
disaster zone in hopes of a miracle.
e slide already ranks as one of the
worst in the United States. In 1969,
150 people were killed in landslides
and oods in Nelson County, Virginia,
according to the US Geological Survey.
Pennington said he expected President
Barack Obama would soon issue a
formal disaster declaration for landslide
victims, making direct federal assistance
available to survivors of the tragedy.
Astonished astronomers say
they have found rings around an
asteroid, the smallest object known
to have this feature and only the
fth after Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus
e twin rings around a rock called
Chariklo were spotted in June last
year as it passed in front of a star,
scrutinised by seven telescopes dotted
over a 1500km stretch of South
As expected, the star seemed to
vanish for a few seconds as Chariklo
blocked its light --- a phenomenon
known as occultation, an international
team reported in the science journal
But the mini-eclipse turned out to
be much more than the astronomers
"A few seconds before, and again
a few seconds after the main
occultation, there were two further
very short dips in the star's apparent
brightness," the European Southern
Observatory (ESO) said in a
"Something around Chariklo was
blocking the light!"
It turned out to be two narrow,
dense rings --- a feature believed to
be limited to the four giant planets of
our Solar System.
By comparing data from the
di erent sites, the team not only
reconstructed the shape and size of
Chariklo itself but also the shape,
width and orientation of its twin
ese were 7km and 3km wide
respectively, separated by a 9km gap.
Like Saturn's rings, Chariklo's may be
composed of water ice.
"We weren't looking for a ring and
didn't think small bodies like Chariklo
had them at all, so the discovery, and
the amazing amount of detail we saw
in the system, came as a complete
surprise," Felipe Braga Ribas, of
Brazil's National Obser vatory, said.
Chariklo, a lumpy 250km-wide
rock discovered in 1997 and named
after a water nymph in Greek
mythology, orbits the sun between
Saturn and Uranus, more than a
billion kilometres from Earth.
It is a Centaur, a category of
celestial bodies that share the
characteristics of comets, which are
made of ice and dust and form tails
when they pass near the sun, and
asteroids which are made of metallic
rock, have shorter orbits and tend to
cluster in groups.
Centaurs have unstable orbits that
cross those of the giant planets and
live for a few million years. Like
other "minor planets", they are not
massive enough for their own gravity
to pull them into a near-spherical
e origin of Chariklo's rings are
a mystery for now, but may be the
result of a debris-releasing collision
with another body.
"I try to imagine how it would be
to stand on the surface of this icy
object and stare up at a 20km-wide
ring system 1000 times closer than
the Moon," fellow researcher U e
Grae Jorgensen, of the University of
Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institute,
e debris may eventually become
welded together into a single, larger
moon orbiting Chariklo --- one of
the theories for how our own Moon
Studying occultations is the
only method astronomers have to
determine the size and shape of
bodies so far from Earth that even
with the best telescopes they appear
as faint points of light.
e rings around Uranus and
Neptune were found in the same way,
in 1977 and 1984.
Galileo, in 1610, became the rst
person to observe the brilliant rings
of Saturn, while the dusty rings
around Jupiter were rst spotted by
the US probe Voyager 1 in 1979.
e project leaders have named
Chariklo's rings after the Brazilian
rivers of Oiapoque and Chui, but
the epithets have yet to be con rmed
by the International Astronomical
Union (IAU). --- AFP
Astronomers spot asteroid with twin rings
Italian mafia earns more than McDonald's
With a turnover of 53 billion
euros ($85.0012 billion) in 2013, the
'Ndrangheta ma a from southern
Italy made more money last year than
Deutsche Bank and McDonalds put
together, a new study says.
e study by the Demoskopika
research institute detailed the
international crime syndicate's
sources of revenue, including drug
tra cking --- which brought in an
estimated 24.2b euros --- and the
illegal garbage disposal business,
which earned it 19.6b euros.
e southern Italian ma a earned
the equivalent of 3.5% of Italy's
gross domestic product (GDP) last
year, said the report based on analysis
of documents from Italy's Interior
Ministry and police, parliament's
anti-ma a commission and the
national anti-ma a task force.
e 'Ndrangheta is thought to
have some 400 key "operatives" in
30 countries, but its activities are
believed to involve as many as 60,000
people worldwide, the report said.
Extortion and usury last year
brought in a substantial 2.9b euros,
while embezzlement earned the ma a
2.4b euros and gambling 1.3b euros.
counterfeiting goods and people-
smuggling were less lucrative,
bringing in less than a billion euros
e 'Ndrangheta --- whose name
comes from the Greek for courage or
loyalty --- has a tight clan structure
which has made it famously di cult
With its network of hundreds
of family gangs based around the
southern city of Calabria, it is even
more feared and secretive than the
Sicilian ma a.
Its roots go back to a criminal
association specialised in gambling,
the Garduna, which was created in
the Spanish city of Toledo in 1412.
It spread to Calabria, one of Italy's
poorest regions, and started building
up as a crime network based on
kidnapping for ransom.
Pope Francis called last week on
Italy's ma a groups to "stop doing
evil" as he met relatives of their
victims to demonstrate the Catholic
Church's opposition to organised
" ere is still time to avoid ending
up in hell, which is where you are
going if you continue down this
path," he warned ma osi, telling
them to relinquish their "blood-
stained money" which "cannot be
taken into paradise". --- AFP
A New York jury has found Osama
bin Laden's son-in-law, former al Qaeda
spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith,
guilty on three counts of conspiracy to
kill Americans and supporting terrorists.
e 48-year-old preacher from Kuwait,
whose three-week trial has been the
most high-pro le al Qaeda case to reach
a United States federal court, now faces
life behind bars.
Abu Ghaith stood impassively as
the court clerk read out the verdict,
declaring him guilty of conspiracy to
kill Americans, conspiracy to provide
material support and providing material
support to terrorists.
Judge Lewis Kaplan said Abu Ghaith,
who was brought to the US only last year
after being detained in Jordan, would be
sentenced on September 8.
Campaigners seized on the trial as
proof that terror detainees can face swift
justice in civilian courts, as pressure
builds to close the Guantanamo Bay
" ere is to be no demonstration by
anyone in the court room of any kind,"
Kaplan told the packed room after the
12-person jury took just four hours of
deliberations to return the unanimous
Afterwards, Abu Ghaith touched his
heart in thanks, smiling at his lawyers.
Defence lawyer Stanley Cohen told
reporters that he would appeal the verdict,
accusing the judge of being "coercive,"
and taking issue with instructions to the
jury and Kaplan's decision not to allow
presumed September 11 plotter Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed to testify in court.
He said his client was "stoic" and "at
"He has con dence that this is not the
end, but the beginning. We think there
are a number of compelling issues for an
appeal," Cohen said.
US prosecutors had alleged Abu
Ghaith was an al Qaeda insider and Bin
Laden's right-hand man and inspired
a new generation of terrorists as the
group's main messenger after the 9/11
Abu Ghaith denied the charges, but
is most famous for appearing with Bin
Laden in a video on September 12, 2001
claiming the attacks on US targets that
killed nearly 3000 people the day before.
In follow-up videos, he threatened
a "storm of airplanes," proof the
government said that he was implicated
in the December 2001 plot to blow up
a transatlantic ight from Paris with a
e prosecution urged the jury to nd
the defendant guilty on all three counts,
referring repeatedly to what they called
"over whelming" evidence against him.
Video and audio clips, his confession
last year and his testimony on the stand
all proved his guilt, they said.
Abu Ghaith ed Afghanistan for Iran
in 2002. He was arrested in Turkey in
2013 and sent to Jordan, where he was
transferred to US custody. --- AFP
found guilty in US
A hammerhead shark dragged a
college student in his kayak up the
Atlantic coast for a two-hour "South
Florida sleigh ride" that the kayaker
taped with a head-mounted camera
and posted on You Tube.
Adam Fisk, 22, posted a ve-
minute clip of his adventure titled
"Lone man gets towed for miles in
kayak by 11ft hammerhead shark."
At one point, Fisk dunked the
camera into the water and recorded
the shark swimming ahead of the
A student at Florida Atlantic
University, Fisk set out in a kayak
on Sunday with several poles to go
shing before the shark took his bait
near Boynton Beach, Florida.
"I threw my bait out and went to
reel my other one in so I wouldn't
get tangled, and I just had time to
pick up the rod before the other
one already got picked up by that
hammer," Fisk wrote on the site.
"It must have been sitting right
under me and I had no idea."
Fisk is a member of Team Rebel
Fishing, a group of extreme anglers,
according to its website. e group
estimated Fisk was dragged by the
shark for 12 miles. Fisk declined to
He wrote on-line the shark took
him out to sea and around in circles,
ending in Lake Worth, Florida.
"Hooked a hammerhead in 50ft
of water and got drug out to 250ft,"
Fisk posted in his Facebook account
of the ride under the headline, "I
took a South Florida sleigh ride
today and I ain't talkin Santa Claus."
Shark drags kayaker for two hours
It started with an unwanted laptop,
and it ended in Britain's Supreme
A Scottish man overnight won
a 16-year court battle sparked by a
wrangle over a loan he had taken out
to buy a computer.
Oil worker Richard Durkin bought
a laptop from a store in the Scottish
city of Aberdeen in 1998, using a
credit agreement with lender HFC
Bank for about £1500.
He returned the computer the next
day because it lacked an internal
modem, and tried to cancel the
e bank said he could not, and
after he refused to pay, declared he
Durkin said the bad credit rating
meant he was unable to buy a house.
He took legal action, and in 2008 ---
a decade after the purchase --- a court
awarded him more than £100,000.
at decision was overturned by
appeals judges, and case eventually
wound its way to the Supreme Court.
e saga ended overnight when
ve Supreme Court justices ruled
that Durkin had "validly rescinded
the credit agreement" and awarded
him £8000 ($15,427) in damages, a
fraction of his initial award.
Durkin said he had mixed feelings
about the judgment.
"I'm glad that I've helped the
greater good with a consumer
victory," he said.
But, he added, the long legal
campaign meant "I've got myself
into a lot of debt, basically."
Durkin estimated he had spent
£250,000 on the case. --- AP
Man wins 16-year legal battle over laptop
Lawmakers in Russia's second
city of St Petersburg have passed
legislation banning children's
beauty pageants as psychologically
damaging to their participants.
e legislation was initiated by
controversial lawmaker, Vitaly
Milonov, who was a prominent
backer of a law banning the
"propaganda" of gay relationships to
"Taking part in such contests
crushes a child's psyche," Milonov
"I think people who hold such
contests should be kept away from
children. I grew up in a normal era
and then no one compared children
by their outer appearance, like dogs."
He estimated that around 3000
children's beauty pageants are held
every year in Russia, with participants
aged from four years old.
Some involve "a catwalk show in
swimsuits", he complained.
e law says that beauty pageants
"could cause harm to the health and/
or physical, intellectual, spiritual and
moral development of those under
e local law introduces a ne of
up to one million rubles ($32,581)
for the organisers of such contests.
Milonov, a St Petersburg lawmaker
for ruling United Russia party, is an
in uential crusader for conservative
values who has sparred with British
actor Stephen Fry over gay rights.
He introduced a law banning "gay
propaganda" in St Petersburg in
2012 before a similar national law
was signed by President Vladimir
Putin last summer.
e legislation is designed to
protect children from "propaganda"
of paedophilia and LGBT rights.
Russian city bans child beauty pageants
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