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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prince William Wedding

By Robert Marquand, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor/ April 28, 2011

Even if you're not attending the Prince William wedding, flying into London's Heathrow Airport will probably mean long lines at customs thanks to budget cuts. Welcome to austerity Britain.

Catherine Middleton, about to become Princess Catherine, has been dubbed “waity Katy” for her willingness to wait eight years for Prince William to pop the question.

Opinion: Royal wedding: The snobbery of Will'n'Kate-haters Why Americans can't stop obsessing over the royal wedding? Wedding bells quiet Irish antipathy toward British royals – for now Five key questions: How the London police plan to protect the royal wedding? Many non-British visitors to London’s Heathrow Airport on Ms. Middleton's wedding week will certainly need some of her patience.

Lines at British customs ran long and slow, a result of budget strains in an age of cuts and austerity. Passengers on a nine-hour US flight disembarked Wednesday only to find a 90-minute-plus wait in lines manned at many points by only one customs officer.

Passengers from Africa, Asia, and America fidgeted and frowned with carry-ons and kids as one or two officers questioned passengers from Zambia and Hong Kong about whether their papers were in order. About 20 other entry posts sat empty.

A flat-screen TV in the arrival area described the protocol to declare asylum, though many passengers waiting in line hoped no one would.

When this reporter, after 80 minutes, questioned the excessive wait and the lack of adequate staff, British police resorted to arguments about the need for security, then criticized American airport customs procedures, before treating any question about staffing as an affront.

However, when customs officers discovered the question came from an American reporter, British officials did an about-face. Officers admitted the long and slow line was a result of budget cuts and a shortage of officials. One senior official had already phoned for more help processing passengers but was told to make do.

“Please say something, you will help us,” said a border policeman named Tommy. “We lost a dozen persons last week and I’ve heard we will lose a hundred more in the next two” – owing to austerity measures that are some of the deepest in British memory. “We are going to have long lines until this is dealt with.”

The line for non-British passport holders sped up after four customs officers shifted from a line serving British citizens. A customs official recommended that passengers wanting to avoid long waits sign up to new identification procedures that rely on photos of a person’s iris, which accords the person a separate and speedier line. At least until the next round of budget cuts.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sai Baba dies (updated)

Indian Express
HYDERABAD, Apr 24: Sri Sathya Sai Baba, whose spiritual clout ran far and wide, passed away this morning in this town in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district due to cardio-respiratory failure.

Sai Baba, who was 86, breathed his last at 7.40 AM at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, its Director A N Safaya said in a bulletin.

"Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He left his earthly body on April 24, 2011 at 7:40 am due to cardio-respiratory failure," it said.

The body will lie in state at Sai Kulwant Hall for two days -- Monday and Tuesday, it said, adding that arrangements will be made for darshan after 6:00 pm today at the Hall.

"We appeal to all not to rush to the hospital, but to remain calm and have Darshan in an orderly manner," it said.

A pall of gloom descended on this town, 450 km from Hyderabad, as the news of Sai Baba's death spread. His family members, four ministers and government officials rushed to the hospital following reports that the Sai Baba's condition had deteriorated further.

There has been a complete shutdown in this town since morning following reports about deterioration in the condition of Sai Baba.

Sai Baba was hospitalised on March 28 following problems related to heart and respiration.
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