Meet Earth’s most typical man

NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (UPI) — A team at National Geographic searched population data for Earth’s most typical person in light of the world population reaching 7 billion Monday.

The National Geographic researchers found that 9 million people on Earth share the same characteristics, CBS News reported. The team created a composite image from 190,000 faces that fit the description — Earth’s everyman.

“He is Han Chinese so his ethnicity is Han. He is 28 years old. He is Christian. He speaks Mandarin. He does not have a car. He does not have a bank account. I think the reaction here among our staff was, ‘Hey, I think I’ve seen this guy,'” said Kaitlin Yarnell.

CBS News found a man who fit that description in New York City. His name is Mu Li and he shares other criteria found by the National Geographic team; right-handed, works in a service industry, lives in a city, owns a cellphone but no car.

“I have a common face, a common background. Suddenly you realize, you say, ‘Wow, you are the most typical person in the world,'” Li said, admitting that he sees himself in the composite image.

Earth’s population may reach 8 billion people in 2026 and by then, researchers say, the most typical human will be from India.

Israel defense chief: Iran our main threat

TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Amid continuing concern that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is inclined to order military action against Iran’s nuclear program, a key Defense Ministry chief says, “Iran is out central threat.”

The comments by Amos Gilad, director of policy and political-security affairs at the ministry, followed a report by the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahoronot that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were pushing for pre-emptive strikes against Iran.

The report by veteran commentator Nahum Barnea underlined a critical rift within the defense establishment and the top political echelon over how to counter what many, Netanyahu in particular, see as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

But many in the defense establishment oppose any overt military action against Iran because they accept that it could unleash a regional war on an unprecedented scale using weapons that have never before been used in Middle Eastern combat.

Saudi Arabia and the Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf would be endangered and Iran would threaten much of the world’s oil supplies.

The United States also opposes a unilateral Israeli campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities, fearing it could get dragged into a conflict not of its choosing, and has repeatedly told the Israelis so.

That was a message forcefully reiterated by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta when he visited Israel in early October and held talks with Barak.

Gilad, who has great influence within the Israeli military establishment, stressed that countering the Iranian threat must be Israel’s top defense priority.

Netanyahu, he said, “was the first who heard of Iran’s forecasted move on the nuclear missile path and he sees it as a massive threat. The defense minister understands the depth of the threat as well.”

The debate within the upper echelons of government over the Iranian threat was largely behind closed doors until earlier this year when the outgoing head of the Mossad intelligence service, former general Meir Dagan, went public by denouncing Netanyahu and Barak.

He was backed by other senior defense and security officials, many of whom had apparently been squeezed out of command positions over the last 18 months by Netanyahu and Barak.

According to Barnea, the current chief of the general staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, Military Intelligence director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and General Security Service head Yoram Cohen all oppose action against Iran at this time.

Gilad maintained that less than a decade ago Iran did not possess missiles capable of reaching Israel; now it has hundreds of ballistic missiles with the range to hit the Jewish state with 10 minutes of launch.

“At the moment, there is no immediate nuclear threat, but there is definitely a great deal of motivation and determination for it,” he said.

“Today, the status is that they’re at the starting point — they have (enriched) uranium, the knowledge is there.”

He declared that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “says that Israel has no place. Iran believes that it needs to be an empire equal in strength to the United States.

“That’s the motivation driving the development of Iran’s missile capabilities.”

The Israelis believe the Iranians seek to stockpile sufficient quantities of weapons-grade enriched uranium to make several warheads quickly in a “breakout” operation with which to attack the Jewish state before anyone’s aware of what they’re doing.

Commentators in Yediot Ahronot, the liberal Haaretz and other dailies have in recent days openly speculated that the hawkish Netanyahu, having won nationwide acclaim for securing the Oct. 18 release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas since July 2006, now felt he had the country behind in taking on Iran.

Netanyahu, said Jerusalem Post military writer Yaacov Katz, feels that “Israel can now move forward to deal with some of the other strategic problems it faces in the region, such as Iran’s nuclear program.”

But the problem, many military strategists say, is that Israel doesn’t have sufficient military force to deliver a knockout blow against Iran on its own.

Brig. Gen. Relik Shafir, who took part in the Israeli air strike that destroyed Iraq’s Tammuz nuclear reactor June 7, 1981, is one: “The Israeli air force doesn’t have the real strategic capability to bomb distant targets for a prolonged period of time with the required intensity and firepower.”

West accused of hypocrisy about protests

MOSCOW, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Russia’s foreign minister criticized Western organizations for “double standards” in the way they characterize public protests in Russia and at home.

Sergei Lavrov’s comments came after police in Portland, Ore., arrested 30 people for violating a curfew in the city’s Occupy Wall Street protest, RIA Novosti reported Monday.

“While daring to ask us questions, our Western partners do not want to address their own problems, which they have plenty of,” Lavrov said, referring to Western human rights organizations’ criticism of “the violent way” in which protests are responded to in Russia.

“The way they treat protesters of the Occupy Wall Street action shows clearly that our colleagues in the West stick to double standards,” Lavrov said.

Under Russian law protesters must receive permission from authorities to hold rallies, and authorities have the right to change the time, date and location of the protests.

If protesters gather in their originally planned location without proper permission, police are empowered to arrest the participants, RIA Novosti reported.

Tymoshenko now facing murder charges?

KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Allegations that former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was tied to the death of a lawmaker in the 1990s are baseless, a spokesperson said.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying investigators were looking into claims Tymoshenko was involved in the 1996 contract killing of Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban.

“The country and society need to know what really happened,” the prosecutor said.

Tymoshenko spokeswoman Natalia Lysova was quoted as saying the latest charges were “rubbish” adding “the attempts by (Ukrainian President Viktor) Yanukovych and his allies to get rid of their political opponents know no limits.”

Tymoshenko lost to Yanukovych in a bruising presidential campaign in 2010. She was sentenced to seven years in jail on charges she abused her authority in a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia’s Gazprom. She faces a slew of other charges that her Western allies see as politically motivated.

Authorities in her opposition All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland,” have introducing a draft resolution to dissolve the Ukrainian Parliament and hold new elections.

Tymoshenko denies all of the charges filed against her.

Israeli group opposes more prisoner swaps

TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 31 (UPI) — An Israeli group opposed to the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap says it will publicly detail crimes committed by prisoners involved in the exchange.

Meir Indor, head of the Almagor Victims of Terror Association, said connecting the names of the prisoners to the specific terror attacks they committed will make the public less likely to support future prisoner swaps, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

“We are taking the law into our own hands so that terror victims can get updates on the terrorists who are responsible for specific attacks,” Indor told the newspaper.

The searchable online database would be the first comprehensive center of information for prisoners freed as a result of a deal negotiated to obtain the Oct. 18 release of Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for more than five years.

Almagor was founded in 1986 after 1,150 prisoners were released in exchange for three soldiers kidnapped during the First Lebanon War, the newspaper said

EU delegation arrives in Tunisia

TUNIS, Tunisia, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Before meeting with leaders from main Tunisian political parties, a European delegation said the humanitarian crisis from the Libyan war was a top concern.

Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament, arrived in Tunis to meet with leaders of Ennahda, the moderate Islamic party that scored a victory in October’s post-revolution elections.

Ennahda, which means “renaissance” in Arabic, took the plurality of the weekend vote with more than 40 percent. The party gets the opportunity to lead a 217-member assembly tasked with ushering in a new post-revolution government in Tunisia.

Skeptics expressed concern that Ennahda would usher in a theocracy that would curb many political freedoms yearned for during the so-called Arab Spring. The group said it was seeking a moderate Islamic state similar to Turkey, however.

Buzek, before his meeting, visited Libyan refugees at a camp in Tunisia. He praised Tunisia’s leadership in handling the political turmoil in the region, but said more was needed in the aftermath of the Libyan war.

“Much more is needed. We have to do more,” he said in a statement. “We Europeans have a responsibility towards these civilians in distress.”

Rights group frets over post-Gadhafi Libya

NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Attacking Gadhafi loyalists in a town near Misurata undermines the spirit of the Libyan revolution, Human Rights Watch said.

Tripoli fell into rebel hands in August and Moammar Gadhafi was later killed after he fled his hometown of Sirte, ushering in a new transitional government and an end to an eight-month international military campaign.

Human Rights Watch in a report said the town of Tawergha, near Misurata, is completely leveled. Home to some 30,000 people, it was once used by Gadhafi loyalists to launch attacks on rebel strongholds nearby.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North African director for Human Rights Watch, said, in a statement, that city residents were abused and tortured by fighters loyal to the interim Transitional National Council.

“Revenge against the people from Tawergha, whatever the accusations against them, undermines the goal of the Libyan revolution,” she said. “In the new Libya, Tawerghans accused of wrongdoing should be prosecuted based on the law, not subject to vigilante justice.”

The rights group noted that Gadhafi’s government had warned the people of Tawergha they would be enslaved by the TNC if the city fell.

Libya’s new leaders were also called on to investigate the circumstances following Gadhafi’s death Oct. 20. He was shown alive, but wounded, following a NATO airstrike on his convoy. He died later while in rebel custody.

New judges for Mubarak trial?

CAIRO, Oct. 31 (UPI) — An appeals court in Cairo announced it would consider new authorities to vet a decision to replace the judges presiding over the murder trial for Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak is on trial for murder in connection with the deaths of protesters killed during a revolution that forced him from power after roughly 30 years in office. Omar Suleiman, former intelligence chief and one-time vice president, had testified in an earlier case that Mubarak was aware that security forces were using deadly force against civilian demonstrators.

President of the Cairo Appeals Court, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, said authorities would vet new judges later this week. Lawyers for the plaintiffs complained the current panel of judges in the Mubarak case didn’t allow them to question ruling military council leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

They also asked for trial judge Ahmed Refaat to step aside because he worked as a consultant in the Mubarak government.

Mubarak denied the validity of the charges during his initial hearing in early August.

Interior Minister Habib al-Adly is accused of ordering snipers deployed to key locations in Cairo. His case is linked with Mubarak’s.

The trial is postponed until Dec. 28.

Somalia suicide bomber said to be American

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Oct. 31 (UPI) — An American is suspected of being one of two suicide bombers who attacked African Union peacekeepers in Somalia, officials said.

A voice in a suicide message posted online Sunday by Somalia’s al-Shabaab rebels, who are aligned with al-Qaida, is said to be that of Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 22, who was born in Somalia but grew up in Minneapolis, The New York Times reported.

The militant group said Ali was one of the bombers who blew themselves up in the Saturday attack in Mogadishu, killing scores of peacekeepers.

Omar Jamal, a Somali diplomat at the United Nations, said friends and family of Ali listened to the recording “and they all say that it is him.”

Ali, whose family arrived in the United States when he was just months old, had been a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota before he disappeared in 2008.

The FBI says an estimated 30 American who have joined al-Shabaab, many of them from the Somali community in Minneapolis.

Analyst: GOP hopefuls’ budgets unrealistic

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) — Proposals by Republican U.S. presidential hopefuls to lop off a chunk of the federal budget may be popular but are unrealistic, a budget watchdog group says.

The proposals would, in some fashion, ratchet spending back to levels not seen in decades and would require actions akin to ending a major program such as Medicare or cutting the entire defense budget, The Washington Times reported Monday.

The plans include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s pledge to cap government spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product — down from the current 24 percent — and pledges by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas that would cut more than 40 percent from current spending to levels unseen since the 1950s.

Such proposals are “totally unrealistic,” Robert Bixby, executive director of the bipartisan budget watchdog Concord Coalition, a fiscal responsibility advocacy group.

“It may look good on paper, but I don’t think they realistically confront the automatic cost growth that is built in for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and a realistic plan is going to have to deal with that,” Bixby said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s goal to limit the federal government to 18 percent of GDP would mean a spending reduction of 6 percent of GDP — more than the combined cost of Medicare and Medicaid in 2011, or more than the cost of Social Security or more than the entire defense budget.

“If you are going to keep spending at 20 percent of GDP, you are going to have to find a way to cut other spending by that much to offset the growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Bixby said. “If you are going to cut 5 [percent] or 6 percent of GDP out of discretionary programs, that means cutting about 75 percent of what we spend on everything else — all the appropriations, including defense.”

While the candidates’ plans generally proffer lower spending targets while pushing the concept of reshaping entitlement programs to save money, they lack what specific changes would be made to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the fact that real savings from gradually increasing the retirement age or means-testing programs would be beyond the 10-year budget cycle, the Times said.

“You are certainly not going to get big savings this decade,” Bixby said. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it because you want to get the savings in the out years.”