World

Terrorists exploded car bombs in separate Baghdad neighborhoods Tuesday, killing at least 38 people and wounding 123 others. Compounding an already challenging day for the government and allied forces, eight American soldiers were killed in roadside bomb explosions and a helicopter crash, and three German civilian computer experts working under contract at the Iraqi Finance Ministry were kidnapped by men wearing the uniforms of the national police.

Using plastic and rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon, police in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities broke up the largest protests so far against the forced closure of the independent RCTV network. The government also filed charges against privately owned Globovision TV for "inciting the assassination" of leftist President Hugo Chávez.

Ratcheting up tensions with the Bush administration, Iran's Justice Ministry formally charged three Iranian-Americans with spying and "endangering national security through propaganda against the system." The three are Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh, and Parnaz Azima. Tajbakhsh, a social scientist, is an expert in urban planning. Esfandiari heads the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington. She and Azima, a journalist, were arrested while visiting ill relatives.

In a new broadside at US plans to build an antimissile shield on eastern European soil, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday it would turn the Continent into a "powder keg." As he spoke, Russia's defense forces announced the successful test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple, independently targeted warheads. Russian generals had boasted of a next-generation missile that can elude any defense system.

The next meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be held June 7, their spokesmen announced Tuesday. The talks are expected to focus on stopping the latest eruption of Israeli-Palestinian violence, Olmert's aides said, rather than on negotiations for a final-status peace deal. Abbas has been trying to broker a cease-fire, but Hamas so far has rejected his efforts. Two Israelis and more than 40 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks.

Only 19,635 voters said "no" to a new seven-year term for Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Interior Ministry said in declaring him the winner of Sunday's election. Final results gave him 97.6 percent of the ballots, it announced. Assad was the only candidate, since political opposition is banned unless it is attached to the ruling Baathist Party.

Militants in the oil-producing delta region of Nigeria said they were considering a request by new President Umaru Yar'Adua to halt hostilities there immediately. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta previously has rejected all such calls until its demands were met. Yar'Adua accepted his oath of office Tuesday in the nation's first transfer of power from one elected leader to another. Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo was not eligible to seek a new term.

A sentence of death was ordered by a court in China for the ex-chief of the State Food and Drug Administration. Zheng Xiaoyu was found guilty of accepting $850,000 in bribes from makers of pharmaceuticals to approve hundreds of their products without application of normal standards, reports said. Dozens of Chinese died on his watch from ingesting fake or tainted drugs and baby formula. The sentence came amid China's attempts to overcome international alarm due to tainted pet foods and toothpaste.

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