A Stubborn Wall Melts AwayCYPRUS One morning last week, Tina Pantakis, a pensioner from the Greek Cypriot town of Limassol, dressed in her Sunday best and rummaged through old photographs. She was looking for pictures of her ancestral village, Vassilia, which she had not seen in nearly 30 years. She wanted to be sure she recognized it. Pantakis was among more than 10,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots who last week took advantage of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's surprise decision to open the border that has divided the island since 1974. "Now that it is finally happening," Pantakis said, pausing to catch her breath at the border, "I feel strange and emotional." The most impenetrable barrier in Europe complete with razor wire, U.N. peacekeepers and venomous graffiti was transformed overnight into a block party. Even Turkish Cypriot police got in the mood, helping elderly Greeks cross the line. A traffic jam 10 km long snaked back from the border. At a small seaside café, a Turkish Cypriot student traded stories with visiting Greek Cypriot teens in broken English. "We are taught the Greeks will kill you," he explained. "They're taught the Turks will kill you. In fact, we have no problem with each other at all!" Greek Cypriot politicians say Denktash provisionally opened the border visitors cannot stay overnight to earn back public goodwill after he torpedoed a U.N. reunification plan earlier this year. Whatever the motivation is, it is working, for now. Pantakis' daughter carried a bouquet of daisies for the Turkish Cypriot family "occupying" her family home. Returning from his own pilgrimage, Greek Cypriot Yannis Adamu held up a bag of fresh lemons from his ancestral garden. "There is a huge will for peace," he said.
Potholed Road To PeaceMIDDLE EAST The long-awaited road map for Israeli-Palestinian peace may be published this week, if Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his cabinet are confirmed as expected. But the diplomatically arduous process of getting Yasser Arafat to accept Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, and his slate of ministers shows that, for the international plan to have any hope of success, another road map will be needed for peace within the Palestinian camp. "The heavy pressure from European and Arab leaders on Arafat produced results," says Palestinian Legislative Council member Muawiya al-Masri. But it has also further strained relations within the Fatah movement, which dominates Palestinian politics and has been riven by intifadeh-related infighting. The moderate Abu Mazen is unpopular among Palestinian radicals, and some Fatah leaders have been busy smearing the new PM and his internal-security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, by painting them as stooges of the U.S. and Israel.
Arafat, the only Fatah central committee member to vote against Abu Mazen's nomination, will continue to be the most formidable obstacle for the Prime Minister and for the road map to peace. "The most terrible thing is that Arafat believes deep in his heart that all world leaders are changeable, but he is not," a senior Abu Mazen ally told Time. "Arafat thinks that the future of the Palestinians lies in his hands." He's probably right.
Korea's Nuclear BombCHINA At a testy meeting of U.S., Chinese and North Korean officials in Beijing last week, a North Korean negotiator confided to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that his country already possesses a nuclear bomb. The revelation came as no surprise to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It is, however, likely to sharpen the agency's focus on a close U.S. ally Pakistan. A senior U.S. official tells TIME that the CIA is convinced that the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, played a key role in the development of North Korea's arsenal. Although President Pervez Musharraf stripped Khan, 67, from his post under intense U.S pressure two years ago, his company, A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories, has free-lanced its services around the world with impunity. The State Department in March finally decided it had had enough and slapped sanctions on Khan's company and a North Korean missile-marketing concern, when it learned of dealings between the two. But the official tells TIME that although Khan is based in Pakistan, he gets around the world pretty freely and "has everything he needs inside his head, if not his briefcase." Khan denies charges that he sells nuclear know-how or hardware. U.S. officials say it is unclear how much control Musharraf has over Khan, but they believe that many leaders with nuclear ambitions keep his name on their Rolodexes, and so may some terrorists. Khan, who is revered in Pakistan, is said to have a penchant for feeding stray monkeys and a weakness for the high life. Lying low is not the sort of thing that comes easy to him, but he may be forced to learn how as the crisis on the Korean peninsula deepens.
follow the moneybritain In Baghdad's looted, fire-blackened Foreign Ministry, a Daily Telegraph journalist looking through abandoned files found one labeled "Britain." In it were documents allegedly indicating that Saddam's regime paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to left-wing Labour backbencher George Galloway a longtime campaigner against sanctions on Iraq and that Galloway had even demanded a raise. The Glasgow M.P., who is suing the newspaper, told TIME, "The information in them is completely false ... I have not benefited by one cent from 13 years of work on this subject; on the contrary I have given my political life's blood for this cause." He has also denied a U.S. newspaper report that claimed papers found in a house used by Saddam's son Qusay allegedly indicate the regime paid him more than $10 million. Galloway is well-accustomed to controversy, having said the best thing British troops in Iraq could do was to disobey "illegal orders" to fight; and, in 1994, for telling Saddam, "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength and your indefatigability." Galloway says he was saluting the Iraqi people. Now the use of funds he raised to help an Iraqi girl suffering from leukemia is also being looked into.
Back Into Spacerussia A Soyuz rocket blasted off into orbit in the first manned flight to the International Space Station since the Columbia shuttle disaster in February. A Russian and an American make up the reduced crew that will maintain the space station and study the effects of weightlessness on bone density. The Russian space program is currently the only means of sending humans into space since NASA's shuttles have been grounded until next year for certification.
Cracking Upukraine Officials conceded that the concrete-and-steel shell built to contain the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl is in danger of collapse before its replacement is completed. The new structure, costing hundreds of millions of dollars and partly financed by the international community, might not be finished until 2010. The admission was untimely, coming days before the 17th anniversary of the disaster at the plant, when one of four reactors exploded, killing 31 workers and spewing radiation over much of Europe in the world's worst nuclear accident.
Strike TwoZIMBABWE The government raised minimum wages and set new transportation fares after 70% of businesses shut down in a massive three-day strike organized by Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions. The strike was called after the government tripled the cost of fuel because of a shortage. As commuter and bus fares doubled, workers faced having to spend up to two-thirds of their income on transportation. The ZCTU dismissed the wage increase as "fire fighting," saying it would do little to protect workers from poor economic planning by the government. This was the second strike in just over a month, as the country faces its worst political and economic crisis in President Robert Mugabe's 23-year rule.
Winnie's WoesSOUTH AFRICA Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to five years in prison, one of which was suspended, after being convicted by a Pretoria court of fraudulently obtaining more than $100,000 in loans. Meanwhile, a court in Cape Town rejected her bid to stop the speaker of the South African parliament from reprimanding her for failing to disclose her financial interest in Soweto's Winnie Mandela Family Museum. Following the verdicts, Madikizela-Mandela said she would resign from all her public positions.
Hell No, He Won't Govenezuela President Hugo Chávez's government refused to sign an agreement it had made with the opposition to hold a referendum that could force Chávez to resign. The Organization of American States brokered the agreement to end a two-month general strike organized by Chávez's opponents earlier this year. But Vice President José Vicente Rangel said the planned vote was unconstitutional because it would come before the mid-point in Chávez's term. The opposition has collected more than 2.5 million signatures in support of the referendum, and polls show they would easily prevail.