Baby Steps Toward Tomorrow
The earth summit in Johannesburg ended on an unexpected upbeat note for the Green lobby. Russia and Canada announced they will seek to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Their decision means the treaty, including its system of trading rights to emit carbon, should now be able to take effect. Other achievements of the summit included an agreement on water and sanitation. Governments pledged to halve the number of people (about 1.1 billion) lacking clean water and basic sanitation by 2015. Delegates also agreed that international trade deals will no longer be able to ignore environment treaties' development and ecology goals. And governments promised to take action to help the poor gain access to affordable energy, though they didn't agree on targets to boost the share of energy produced from renewable sources.
A court in Sweden's capital Stockholm remanded Kerim Chatty in custody until Sept. 16 on suspicion of aggravated firearms offences and conspiring to hijack an airliner. If found guilty, the 29-year-old Swedish citizen faces a maximum term of life in prison. Chatty, whose father is Tunisian, was caught trying to board a flight to Britain with a loaded 6.5-mm pistol in his hand luggage. The case against Chatty was presented to Chief Prosecutor Thomas Haggstrom, who said: "What we still need is a motive." Chatty has a criminal record that includes an assault on a U.S. embassy marine guard. He had also attended flight schools in the U.S. in the mid-1990s.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli army could expel from the West Bank the brother and sister of the Palestinian organizer of a suicide bombing and force them to live in the Gaza Strip. The judges ruled that a relative of a terrorist could be forced from home only if there was a danger to Israeli security, not just to deter others. International human-rights groups and Palestinian officials decried the decision as authorizing the use of collective punishment.
The Wrath of Rusa
Amighty typhoon swept across South Korea killing at least 184 people and leaving a trail of devastation. Typhoon Rusa was the worst to hit the Korean peninsula in 40 years: winds reached 204 km/h and 89 cm of rain fell. Thousands of people were made homeless. At least 26,000 homes were flooded in Kangwon province. The total damage caused by Rusa is estimated at $3.5 billion, four times that of 1999's Olga. A government official said the cleanup would need twice as much money as is left for disaster relief in state coffers. Disease followed the destruction as an epidemic of conjunctivitis, an eye complaint, erupted.
Karzai's Close Brush With Death
President Hamid Karzai narrowly survived an assassination attempt during a visit to Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold. A man fired two shots into his car from close range. Karzai's American bodyguards immediately returned fire, killing the shooter. The attack was launched hours after a pair of bomb blasts killed at least 15 people in the capital Kabul. Dozens of people were injured by the explosion in the business district close to a market crowded with shoppers. Authorities blamed "Osama and his associates."
Back to War
Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir broke off peace talks with the rebel Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army after spla forces captured the strategic town of Torit. The government started airlifting troops to its stronghold of Juba in the rebel-occupied south and recruiting in schools and universities. The spla is fighting for greater autonomy for the Christian and animist south from the Arab and Muslim north, which dominates the government in Khartoum.
Up in Arms
At least 2,500 Pashtun tribesmen in Pakistan held a demonstration to protest against an army operation to hunt down suspected al-Qaeda fighters. Pakistani para-milit ary troops destroyed houses where the wanted men were suspected of hiding and detained four people in the village of Jani Khel in the tribal areas near Afghanistan. Local elders said that the six suspects were not members of al-Qaeda but students from a local religious school.
Owning Up to AIDS
The Chinese government has admitted for the first time that there may be a million people in China infected with hiv. The figure is an increase over previous estimates. But it still falls short of those made by the United Nations, which estimates that hiv has hit more than 1.25 million Chinese. Though China is publicizing the magnitude of its hiv/aids problem, less than three weeks ago the country's most prominent aids campaigner, Wan Yanhai, vanished and appears to have been arrested. Public security officials accuse him of spilling state secrets.
Speaker Shut Up
Akbar Tandjung, the speaker of Indonesia's parliament and leader of the country's second-largest political party, was convicted of corruption and sentenced to three years in jail. Tandjung was convicted of using $5 million of state funds, earmarked for poverty relief, to finance the 1999 election campaigns of the Golkar party and the President at the time, B.J. Habibie. Although Tandjung said he will appeal, political analysts believe the conviction is likely to dent Tandjung's chances–and Golkar's–in the 2004 legislative and presidential elections.
President George W. Bush responded to calls for consultation about his plans for war with Iraq by promising a round of diplomacy with world leaders and the United Nations. Speaking after talks with U.S. congressional leaders, Bush also said he would seek a vote in Congress to authorize military force, as his father George Bush did as President before the 1991 Gulf War. The White House insisted that the younger Bush had not come to a decision about strikes against Iraq. But the President reiterated his warning that doing nothing "was not an option."
Law-enforcement officials said they have dismantled a kidnapping ring that abducted people in south and central America to fund the country's second-largest rebel group. A total of 13 suspected guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) were arrested in the Colombian cities of Bogotá, Cali and Medellin following a two-year investigation. Meanwhile, the first two people to win rewards for informing on rebels appeared in disguise on live television. The government gave the pair $800 each for informing on Oswaldo Diaz Alfaro, who tried to assassinate Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in April.
A Fistful of Denarii
The men who hang around outside Rome's Colosseum dressed as gladiators and posing for snapshots with tourists might seem to have found an easy way of making a living. No longer. The city has new rules decreeing the sesterces they'll be able to charge for saying, "On my command, unleash hell!"