At least six people were killed and 85 more were reported hurt in the Gaza Strip Monday in the worst violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters since the former seized control there last June. Witnesses said Hamas security personnel appeared to fire unprovoked on a rally by an estimated 250,000 people (some of them above) commemorating the anniversary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death. Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has been trying to isolate Hamas politically, especially as he pursues the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Senior Palestinians said they'll reject one of Israel's main demands at the coming US-sponsored peace conference: that it be acknowledged as a Jewish state.Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat also was quoted as saying that he'll demand a commitment in writing from Israeli leaders to release all Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert disclosed plans to free more than 400 Palestinians as a goodwill gesture before the talks. But aides said he would not commit to a further release outside that framework.
Another order for banks in China to place more money in reserve was issued by the nation's central bank. The move, which takes effect Nov. 29, is aimed at cooling inflation by limiting the availability of money to borrowers. It is the ninth such action this year, and analysts suggested there may be at least one more before 2008. China's red-hot economy is projected to grow by 11 percent this year. The government reported Monday that the trade surplus for October reached a record $27.05 billion.
Transport workers across France are expected to begin an open-ended strike Tuesday night, the opening salvo in a campaign by unions to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy's efforts to make public and private-sector retirement programs uniform. Plans call for the railway employees to be followed Wednesday by those in the gas and electricity industries and, next week, by teachers, postal workers, and civil service employees.
For the third time, parliament in Lebanon postponed its vote forthe nation's new president. Speaker Nabih Berri said over the weekend that the election would be held Nov. 21, three days before incumbent Emile Lahoud's term expires. Berri said rival political leaders need still more time to find a compromise candidate for the post, which, by tradition, goes to a Maronite Christian. Legislators originally were to have held the vote in September.
In a new move toward "permanent political stability," the largest Protestant paramilitary force in Northern Ireland announced it would stand down, effective immediately, and put its arsenal of weapons "beyond use." The Ulster Freedom Fighters said Sunday it believes "the war is over." It declined, however, to hand over its guns to the international disarmament commission, saying, "We believe the political parties and institutions are still in a period of transition."
Government officials and professional soccer authorities in Italy were pleading for calm after a day of riots in major cities that resulted in the accidental shooting death of a fan. The victim was hit as police tried to separate supporters of rival teams who'd been brawling. Sunday's games across the nation had to be canceled or suspended due to the violence. In Rome alone, 40 policemen were hurt and four rioters were arrested.
A 16-year-old student was arrested in central Finland for posting a video on the Internet that appeared to threaten a shooting rampage at his school. Reports said the video appeared on YouTube two days before another teenager killed himself and eight other people at a school in southern Finland last week. That incident, which also followed a YouTube posting, is believed to have been the first in Finnish history. The nation leads Europe in civilian gun ownership, and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has called for a review of firearms regulations.