A Nation Aflame
1 | AFGHANISTAN
News that copies of the Koran had been burned while being disposed of by soldiers at the U.S. air base at Bagram triggered days of nationwide unrest. One U.S. military official said the Korans, which came from the library of the base detainee center, were suspected of having been used to communicate secret messages among Taliban inmates. The rushed apologies from NATO officials and U.S. President Barack Obama did little to assuage Afghan outrage. More than a week of violent protests and riots led to the deaths of nearly 40 people. In one incident, a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden vehicle into the gate of a NATO base near Jalalabad, killing nine. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, seeking to capitalize on public anger over the burnings. Western officials working in Afghan ministries were pulled out after a rogue Afghan soldier shot to death two U.S. advisers at the Interior Ministry, bringing the number of American soldiers killed since the unrest began to four. The protests tapped into deep-seated frustrations felt by many Afghans, who have little affection for the forces occupying their country and propping up the weak, largely corrupt government in Kabul.
Tax rate for incomes greater than 1 million euros ($1.3 million) proposed by Socialist Franois Hollande, the leading opposition candidate in France's upcoming presidential elections
Nukes or Butter?
2 | NORTH KOREA
After two days of talks in Beijing with North Korean officials, the U.S. State Department announced that the country, whose new leader is Kim Jong Un, had agreed to suspend its uranium-enrichment program and nuclear-weapons tests in exchange for food aid. North Korea is chronically short of food and prone to famine. The deal could presage resumption of broader six-party talks among the U.S., North Korea and other regional powers over possible North Korean disarmament and other measures that could calm tensions along the Cold War's last frontier.
'We will seek that the name is accepted by the public.'
PAVOL FRESO, Slovak government official, on his intent to abide by the outcome of an online vote by Slovaks to name a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing the Morava River into Austria. Nearly three-quarters of the votes so far favor naming the bridge after American action star and Internet meme sensation Chuck Norris
Drama Down Under
3 | AUSTRALIA
The nation's ruling Labor Party was convulsed by political infighting between the camps of ex--Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and current P.M. Julia Gillard. In an internal Labor Party caucus, Gillard held on to her position and triumphed over Rudd, just as she did in 2010, when she dramatically--some would say cold-bloodedly--ousted then P.M. Rudd in an intraparty putsch. Rudd served as Gillard's Foreign Minister until Feb. 22, when he resigned to challenge Gillard in an ill-fated showdown. Rudd's rise to power in 2007 made international headlines: erudite and fluent in Mandarin, he was expected to steer Australia into the new waters of an "Asian" 21st century. But his legacy now is one of domestic discord.
End of Their Vigil
4 | LONDON