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January 8, 2009

Residents of smaller and poorer eastern European states were left in the cold Wednesday as the delivery by pipeline of Russian gas stopped. The situation was especially acute among Serbians, tens of thousands of whom were celebrating the Orthodox Christmas but lacked the ability to convert to the use of alternative fuels for home heating. In Bulgaria, an association of employers said the cutoff of gas was costing its members $367 million a day in lost business as they're adapting to a weakened global economy.

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The lone surviving terrorist from the November siege in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) "has links to Pakistan," that nation's Information Ministry conceded Wednesday. But it said that determination had come from its own investigation, not India's. India has insisted for weeks that the man is Pakistani. The Pakistani government previously had said it couldn't find his name in its database of citizens.

Violence against Jews appeared to be increasing across Europe since Israel began its offensive in the Gaza Strip. At least 24 incidents have taken place in Britain in the past week, reports said, among them an arson attempt at a London synagogue. Similar attempts were made in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Toulouse, France. In Antwerp, Belgium, which has large Jewish and Muslim populations, leaders of both groups jointly appealed for calm.

Thirty thousand soldiers and police were guarding processions of Shiite pilgrims in Iraq for the annual observance of Ashura, the most important date on their calendar. In Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Karbala, there were a few reports of minor security breaches. But in Balad Ruz, 45 miles north of the capital, police arrested a woman carrying explosives as she tried to infiltrate a gathering of pilgrims.