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Sikhs disappointed by Obama plan to bypass India temple

WASHINGTON Sikhs in the United States expressed their frustration Thursday that President Barack Obama would skip a tentatively planned visit to their holiest site in India, while advocacy groups called on the White House to reconsider.

Obama was expected to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, next month, but there were questions about how he would cover his head. Sikh tradition requires that men tie a piece of cloth on their heads before entering the spiritual center. The president, who is Christian, has fought the perception that he is Muslim. Sikhs are regularly mistaken for Muslims.

“There’s a xenophobic trend in this country, where some people are calling him Muslim,” said Jasjit Singh, associate director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Washington-based civil rights group. “If he gives in to this trend then effectively he’s emboldening them.”

United Sikhs, a New York-based human rights group, also urged Obama to go ahead with the visit, and said it would “stand as the seminal educating moment for Sikhs to once and for all introduce themselves and their distinctive identity to the world.”

Many Sikhs, while disappointed, stopped short of calling for protests. They said there might be legitimate reasons, like security, why the president would bypass the popular tourist destination, which is near the Pakistan border.

Study ties costs of saving Fannie and Freddie to economy

WASHINGTON The federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may be winding down with relatively little additional cost to taxpayers so long as the economy continues to recover. But if the economy tips back into recession, the bailout could nearly double in size, according to new government projections announced on Thursday.

The troubled mortgage companies are likely to require about $19 billion in additional federal aid over the next three years, according to a projection announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

If the economy recovers more quickly than expected, the projections show that the companies could need as little as $6 billion in new aid. By contrast, if the economy falls into recession, the companies could need another $124 billion.

The Treasury Department has spent $135 billion on Fannie and Freddie since they were seized by the government in 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. Even under the worst-case scenario detailed on Thursday by the FHFA, the pace of new cash infusions would decline sharply.

Panel’s report assails Haiti officers in prison killings

After officers had quelled the prison uprising in Les Cayes, Haiti, in January, Jacklin Charles, an unarmed detainee, was killed by a bullet to the head as he stood beside a tree in the courtyard. Several witnesses said that the chief of the antiriot police pulled the trigger.

Another detainee, Verlin Potty, was handcuffed and dragged into the dispensary, where officers beat him to death with their batons. The warden is said to have participated in the killing.

These two men were among at least 12 detainees killed by Haitian officers who opened fire “deliberately and without justification,” using “inappropriate, abusive and disproportionate force” against unarmed inmates who presented no immediate threat, according to an independent commission of inquiry report on the Jan. 19 uprising. Most of the dead were summarily executed, the commission found. In a forcefully worded, detailed report, the commission said that it hoped for an official and public condemnation of the violations, which were initially covered up by the local authorities in Les Cayes. But the report, delivered to Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive on Sept. 2, was not released by the government.