Israel Seizes Territory after Fresh Attacks
In two separate attacks in Jerusalem, Palestinian suicide bombers killed 26 Israelis and injured 124 others. The radical group Hamas claimed responsibility for the first; the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed the second. The Palestinian Authority denounced the attacks and, after the second, Arafat issued an appeal for suicide bombing to stop. The Israeli government announced that it would seize parts of Palestinian Authority territory and hold them as long as attacks continue. Dozens of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles backed by helicopter gunships stormed the West Bank towns of Jenin, Qalqilya and Nablus. Troops entered Ramallah and Bethlehem, while helicopters .red on the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian gunman killed five Israeli settlers in Itamar on the West Bank.
Travel plans were thrown into chaos as air-traffic controllers went on strike to protest an E.U. plan to put the Continent's airspace under international controls. Almost all French short-haul flights were affected by the one-day walkout, which also hit Greece, Hungary, Italy and Portugal. General strikes in Greece and Spain complicated the situation for travelers. The air-traffic controllers objected to the E.U.'s Single-Skies plan, which would replace national airspaces with zones of control based on international air corridors. French air-traffic controllers said they fear the plans could compromise safety.
Axis of Trade
E.U. foreign ministers gave the green light to launch formal trade negotiations with Iran, despite heavy pressure from Israel and the U.S., which sees Iran as part of an "axis of evil." The E.U. agreement could give European companies an edge over their U.S. competitors once the talks conclude. The E.U. said it was essential to engage with Iran's political rulers, especially the reformers, to try to influence the current battle over the country's ideological direction.
We're Still Here
As E.U. leaders gathered for a summit in Seville, a series of bombs exploded in other Spanish cities, injuring eight people. The Basque separatist group ETA claimed responsibility for the five attacks.
Talks aimed at ending Sudan's 19-year civil war began in Nairobi, Kenya. The talks did not get off to a hopeful start. The rebel SPLA delegation rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire. It said hostilities with the government would cease only after a political settlement was reached. The SPLA, from Sudan's Christian and animist south, wants the country to become a secular state, an idea the government, dominated by the Muslim north, rejects. The SPLA refused to rule out building an independent state, while the government was set on preserving Sudan's unity. The discovery of vast oil reserves along the front line between SPLA and government troops has made Sudan more unstable. The government talked about sharing the oil revenues with all of Sudan; but the rebels suspect that in practice it would not.
A Cabinet for Kabul
Hamid Karzai was formally sworn in as Afghanistan's head of state in front of a 2,000-member loya jirga, or tribal council, meeting near the capital Kabul. Earlier Karzai announced the key appointments to his new cabinet after the U.S. special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, insisted that the loya jirga had its say on the posts as laid down by international peace accords. The defense and foreign affairs portfolios were retained by the mainly Tajik Northern Alliance, while the Interior Ministry went to a Pashtun regional governor, Taj Mohammed Wardak. When Wardak sought to go to his new ministry, police loyal to his predecessor briefly blocked the road.
A South African ship set out for the Antarctic to rescue 107 crew and passengers, including 79 members of a Russian research expedition, on board a vessel trapped in pack ice. Though the stricken ship has fuel for 45 days, it began to ration its food supplies. The rescuers worried about ice storms and the lack of daylight at this time of year in Antarctica. The South Africans are taking two military helicopters on the voyage to ferry fuel and food to the stranded ship. An Argentine icebreaker was also heading from Buenos Aires to help.
In or Out?
In a bizarre political drama, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he was quitting all his posts in the United Malays National Organisation party and the ruling National Front coalition. An hour later, officials said he had changed his mind after protests from other senior politicians. Opponents labelled Mahathir's announcement, made live on national TV from the annual UMNO conference, a "desperate attempt to fish sympathy and votes."
Police arrested two teenage boys for starting a fire that killed 24 people and injured 13 others at an unlicensed Internet café. One of the boys confessed that he had started the fire in revenge when staff refused to let him play computer games. After the blaze, authorities ordered all of Beijing's 2,400 Internet cafés most of them illegal to close while safety checks are performed. The closures have spread to other cities as well. Internet users accused the city government of using the fire as an excuse to crack down on one of the few arenas for free expression in China.
Seventeen people died in a gun battle between police and cult members on the southern island of Dinagat. Fighting erupted when an armed police unit tried to arrest cult leader Ruben Ecleo on suspicion of murdering his wife with the help of another man- and, later, of masterminding the killing of his wife's parents, brother and sister. After the battle Ecleo, who leads the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries' Association, gave himself up to the police. Ecleo has about 1 million followers in the Philippines, who believe he is a reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
Just Another Trick of the Light
In an experiment straight out of Star Trek, two Australian scientists teleported information between two laser beams a meter apart. The scientists made use of a phenomenon called quantum entanglement to dismantle a signal-transmitted in photons, or particles of light-in one shaft of laser light and instantaneously rebuild a replica of it in a second laser beam. Star Trek-style transporters that could move objects through space are still remote, however. "Teleporting of that kind is very far away," says Dr. Ping Koy Lam, since scientists still can't teleport atoms.
Sue You in Court
Lawyers have .led a suit in New York on behalf of four South Africans seeking $50 billion from U.S. and Swiss corporations for the "blood and misery" the companies allegedly caused by doing business with South Africa's apartheid regime. The plaintiffs said Citigroup, UBS and Credit Suisse profited from loans to Pretoria between 1985 and 1993 while a U.N. embargo on trade with South Africa was in force.
President Hugo Chávez warned against fresh attempts to topple his government as police arrested a retired colonel who led a march through Caracas demanding Chávez's resignation.
Doomed Love Songs
The loudest love songs in the ocean, sung by its largest animals, may soon be drowned out by noise pollution, scientists fear. The songs of male fin and blue whales travel over thousands of kilometres to attract females to mate. But noise from shipping could harm efforts to raise whale numbers