LONDON (AP) -- Author Salman Rushdie is hitting back at critics who say he is ungrateful to Britain for spending money to protect him against an Islamic death edict.
The 1989 edict ordered his death for allegedly committing blasphemy in his novel "The Satanic Verses."
Rushdie, who now lives in New York, wrote in Sunday's editions of the Independent newspaper that "so much commentary lacks ... understanding and compassion" for his ordeal.
"It is plain that I am to be periodically vilified for the multiple crimes of surviving a decade of state-sponsored terrorism, defending the integrity of my work ... retaining my sanity and continuing, in very difficult circumstances, to write," Rushdie wrote.
Referring to press reports that have depicted a celebrity-fueled lifestyle and suggested too much taxpayer money was spent protecting him, his commentary was headlined: "Facts: I pay tax, I'm not a playboy, and I've never met Grace Jones."
The Iranian government ended its endorsement of the edict, issued by the late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1998. However, under Islamic law only the person who issued such a decree can revoke it. Iranian hard-line groups have renewed calls for Rushdie's death.
Mehta proud to be in Belgrade
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Zubin Mehta has become the first international music star to visit Yugoslavia since the country's recent shift to democracy.
"I am so proud that you invited me," Mehta told the audience Sunday, before leading Belgrade's Philharmonic in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.
The conductor said he chose the two pieces of music for the occasion because of their "great inner sense of destiny and victory ... both end with a huge victory of spirit."
After more than a decade of suffering under international isolation brought on by the policies of former leader Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia is trying to shake off its past.
President Vojislav Kostunica, who beat Milosevic in September elections, attended the concert and later met with Mehta, who wished him success. Proceeds from the performance will go to a pediatric hospital in the capital.
Art helps McCartney
RADNOR, Pa. (AP) -- Paul McCartney credits his art with helping him with get over the deaths of his wife and former bandmate John Lennon.
The former Beatle said he continues to paint his wife Linda, who died of breast cancer in 1998.
He also said he has painted portraits of Lennon and struggled to remember what Lennon's face looked like.
"Then I'd think, 'Of course you know. You wrote all those songs facing each other,"' he said.
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