UK marks Darwin's 200th birthday with pride, humor

London

Darwin's 200th birthday widely celebrated

They threw him a party at the Natural History Museum, they trotted out a set of stamps in his honor, and a zoo offered free admission to anyone sporting a beard in recognition of his famous facial hair. While more than 600 events took place worldwide Thursday to commemorate "Darwin Day" — the 200th anniversary of scientist Charles Darwin's birth — it was a particularly special occasion in his native land. In a message to Parliament, British Culture Secretary Andy Burnham called the scientist "one of the most influential Britons of all time." Amid all the celebration, a note of skepticism: A poll showed that 43 percent of Britons believed in "young earth creation" — or the idea that God created the world within the past 10,000 years.

Islamabad

Pakistan admits link to attacks

Pakistan acknowledged terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in November were partly plotted on its soil and announced criminal proceedings against eight suspects, including three alleged ringleaders, in a sign it is heeding U.S. and Indian demands to punish those responsible for the deaths of 164 people. India called Thursday's announcement a "positive development," and the news was welcomed by Washington. "I want to assure the international community, I want to assure all those who have been victims of terrorism, that we mean business," Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said at a news conference.

London

Britain bars entry of Dutch lawmaker

British officials barred far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders from entering the country Thursday, citing his anti-Islamic views. Wilders, who traveled to London despite receiving a letter from the British Embassy in the Netherlands that he was barred from the United Kingdom, attacked what he called "the cowards in the U.K. government" who he said had a servile attitude toward Islam. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the British Broadcasting Corp. that Wilders was guilty of "extreme anti-Muslim hate." The Dutch Embassy said it "deeply regrets that the British authorities" denied Wilders entry.

Baghdad

12 killed as Iraq violence spikes

Car bombings and fatal shootings claimed the lives of at least 12 people in Iraq Thursday, marking the second consecutive day of deadly violence after the war-torn country enjoyed a monthlong stretch free from it. The attacks come just as Iraqi officials are preparing to release final results next week from the Jan. 31 provincial elections, which were largely peaceful. The bulk of the attacks occurred in Mosul, Iraq's largest city in the north, and one of the nation's last restive areas.

Elsewhere

Cairo: Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Thursday night that the Islamic militant group agreed to an 18-month truce with Israel for the Gaza Strip, the official Egyptian news agency reported. In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office had no comment on the report.

Australia: Police arrested a suspect today in connection to one of the wildfires in southern Australia that killed 181 people and left about 7,000 homeless. A newspaper report said the 39-year-old man would likely be charged with arson causing death in the Churchill fire, in which 21 people died.

Times wires

UK marks Darwin's 200th birthday with pride, humor 02/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:34pm]

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