January saw peace threatening to break out in a number of global hot spots, as if world leaders had made a collective New Year's resolution for harmony. India and Pakistan who not so long ago were at the nuclear brink over Kashmir met for warm talks in Islamabad and promised to keep talking. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared the commitment to talk a victory "for all those peace-loving people of the world."
Syria and Turkey also seem to have gotten over long-standing territorial feuds: last week, Bashar Assad became the first Syrian leader ever to visit Turkey, and leaders appear more concerned about future business than about the disputed Hatay Province. Sudanese rebels have agreed to an oil wealth-sharing package after decades of civil war (see story), North Korea has opened up its nuclear facilities to an outside delegation, and Libya wants to be everybody's friend. Will the peace last? Sure about as long as most New Year's resolutions do.
BELGIUM A jury at a Liège court found six men guilty of complicity in the 1991 shooting murder of socialist Deputy Prime Minister André Cools. The court handed the men
CZECH REPUBLIC Fifty-six years after his fatal fall from a window, police concluded that Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk's death in 1948 was murder, not suicide as was ruled initially.
IRAQ Danish troops operating in the south announced they had discovered dozens of buried mortar rounds that initial tests showed could contain blister gas. Results of final tests on the shells, which had been buried for at least 10 years, should be available this week.
Terror on Trial
KENYA Three men pleaded not guilty at the opening of their trial in Nairobi to charges of conspiracy in a series of terror attacks including the 2002 bombing of a hotel near Mombasa and the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, for which the al-Qaeda network claimed responsibility.
SINGAPORE The government announced it was considering decriminalizing oral sex. The move is one of a series, including the lifting of a ban on the TV show Sex and the City, designed to play down the country's reputation as a nanny state.
HAITI Three people died and more than 20 were injured in violent clashes between opponents and supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Opposition leaders, who accuse Aristide of corruption, called a two-day general strike, which shut down many businesses in Port-au-Prince.
MEANWHILE IN THE U.K. ...
Ye Cannae Dae That
To many, the Scottish lilt is charming and even rather attractive (think Sean Connery). But not, it seems, to the British Foreign Office, which was forced to apologize for denying a Russian student a visa to study English in Scotland on the grounds that she would have difficulty understanding the accent. What could they mean? When Scottish groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons coined the expression "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," the whole world knew what he meant.