German zoo shows off new polar bear cub


h German zoo shows
off new polar bear cub

STUTTGART, Germany — After Knut and Flocke, welcome Wilbaer.

Stuttgart’s Wilhelma zoo announced Thursday that one of its polar bears gave birth to a male cub Dec. 10 — Germany’s latest high-profile bear arrival, following Berlin zoo star Knut and Nuremberg celebrity Flocke.

But little Wilbaer has an advantage over his famous counterparts: his mother, Corinna, hasn’t abandoned him.

“Corinna is taking exemplary care of her offspring,” zoo director Dieter Jauch said.

Jauch pointed to the media frenzy that surrounded Knut last year as the reason the zoo so far kept Wilbaer’s birth under wraps. “We are not out for the big money,” he said.

However, he added that the zoo has had his name — a combination of the zoo’s name and the German for bear, “Baer” — registered as a trademark.

Jauch said the cub now weighs more than 13 pounds. For now, though, Wilbaer is being kept out of public view — and he is not expected to be on view in the polar bear enclosure until May.

Pelosi seeks probe

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department on Thursday to open a grand jury investigation into whether President Bush’s chief of staff and former counsel should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded that the department pursue misdemeanor charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers for refusing to testify to Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and against chief of staff Josh Bolten for failing to turn over White House documents related to the dismissals.

She gave Attorney General Michael Mukasey one week to respond and said refusal to take the matter to a grand jury will result in the House’s filing a civil lawsuit against the Bush administration.

The White House branded the request as “truly contemptible.” The Justice Department said it had received Pelosi’s request and anticipated providing further guidance after Mukasey’s review. It noted “long-standing department precedent” in such cases against letting a U.S. attorney refer a congressional contempt citation to a grand jury or prosecute an executive branch. The top House Republican called it “a partisan political stunt” and “a complete waste of time,” according to a spokesman.

The Democratic-controlled House voted two weeks ago to hold Bolten and Miers in contempt for failing to cooperate with committee investigations.

Pressuring Iran

PARIS — The United States and other members of an international watchdog group called Thursday for new financial pressure on Iran, saying its Islamic regime hasn’t done enough to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.

The Financial Action Task Force, in a statement from its annual meeting in Paris, pressed its 34 members to advise banks to monitor their dealings in Iran and urged nonmember nations to follow suit.

The statement signals increased concern about legal loopholes that make the Islamic republic a risk. But the task force also welcomed efforts by Iran, acknowledging it has sought the agency’s advice on improving its laws.

The stepped-up call for vigilance comes against the backdrop of intense pressure from some Western nations on Iran over its nuclear program amid fears that it could be masking plans to build bombs. Tehran insists that its ambitions are peaceful and that it is developing its nuclear capabilities to generate electricity.

In addition, Britain and France say they expect the Security Council to vote Saturday on new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. The two countries cosponsored the resolution that would impose a third round of sanctions on Iran.

Associated Press

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