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  Gordon Brown Confirmed As Leader Of Uk Labour PartyJune 25, 2007 10:06 Gordon Brown has been confirmed as the new leader of Britain's ruling Labour Party at a specially convened conference here and told the party faithful he is "ready to serve".

The appointment was confirmed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to applause and cheers.

Brown was elected unopposed after left wing challengers failed to secure enough nominations to force a contest.

On Wednesday, Brown will achieve his long-standing ambition to lead the country when he takes over from Blair as prime minister.

"This week marks a new start, a chance to renew," the 56-year-old finance minister said.

"And I say to the people of Britain: the new government I will lead belongs to you. I will work hard for you. I shall always try my utmost. I am ready to serve."

Justice minister Harriet Harman caused a shock when she was elected deputy leader of the party, narrowly beating Education Secretary Alan Johnson.

In the final round, she garnered 50.43 pct of the vote against Johnson's 49.56 in a system of single transferable votes.

"It will be an honour and privilege to work alongside Gordon Brown," Harman said in her victory speech.
  Rushdie Knighthood Inflames PakistanJune 19, 2007 07:57 And this is rational behavior that should be condoned in the year 2007? Would any God really want someone to blow himself up over something that happens in a country 3 thousand miles away? Insanity.

THE British author Sir Salman Rushdie could face new death threats after receiving a knighthood, with Pakistan's parliament condemning the honour as "blasphemous and insulting" to Muslims and a senior minister in its Government saying that it justified suicide bombing.

As Pakistani MPs demanded that the award be withdrawn, the Religious Affairs Minister, Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, said on Monday: "The West always wonders about the root cause of terrorism. Such actions are the root cause of it.

"If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the prophet Muhammad, his act is justified."

The parliament passed a unanimous resolution deploring the honour as an insult to the feelings of the world's Muslims.

Sir Salman's agent, Jin Auh, said the author was unavailable for comment.

The Pakistani Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, who tabled the motion, said the knighthood was "a source of hurt for Muslims" and would encourage people to "commit blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad".

Mr ul-Haq then called on Pakistan and all other Muslim states to "break off diplomatic relations with Britain" if the knighthood was not withdrawn.

He was later forced to clarify his statement, saying that he was speaking about the wider causes of terrorism and not of Sir Salman specifically.

The condemnation from Pakistan's parliament came after Iran criticised the honour at the weekend and will raise concerns for Sir Salman's safety almost 20 years after the publication of The Satanic Verses.
  Mercer Ranks Countries' Paid-Vacation PoliciesJune 18, 2007 08:23 It's the start of vacation season, but you can probably count on one hand, if that, the people you know who are taking off several weeks this summer.

The tally likely would be much higher if you also had friends from, say, Finland, where workers must get a minimum of 30 days paid vacation plus up to 14 paid holidays a year. That makes it the country with the most generous paid time off laws out of 49 nations surveyed by human resource consulting firm Mercer.

  Endangered Species Conference Agrees To Ban Almost All Trade In Threatened, Lucrative SawfishJune 12, 2007 22:03 An international conference on endangered species banned almost all trade yesterday in sawfish -- large shark-like rays whose long snouts bristling with teeth are in high demand among collectors.
All seven species of sawfish are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union due mainly to overfishing.

They are highly valued for their fins, meat and snouts known as rostra which can be up to 61/2 feet long. They also are caught and traded as live animals for aquaria and parts of their bodies are used in traditional Asian medicines.

Local Kenyan fishermen "could retire after catching one sawfish due to the high value of sawfish fins" -- $200 a pound for export, said Dorothy Nyingi of Kenya told the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. She said the rostra fetch up to $650 a pound.