Although overshadowed by new violence in Iraq this week, British forces prepared to hand back control of Basra Province on Sunday. Afterward, the British mission will focus on training Iraqi military units. Basra is the last of four provinces over which Britain was given responsibility for security after the 2003 invasion.
Leaders of European Union states signed a new version of its charter Thursday, changing the manner in which the bloc is to be run. The Treaty of Lisbon still must be ratified by each member. It replaces the original attempt at a European Constitution, which was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands two years ago. Among other features, it shrinks the size of the European Parliament and drops all references to a common flag and anthem.
At least 13 civilians were killed Thursday as mortar shells exploded almost simultaneously on a crowded market in Mogadishu, Somalia. More than 40 others were hurt, many of them critically. The attack came as the Security Ministry said Islamist radicals allegedly linked to Al Qaeda had regrouped and warned that the interim government had "no power to resist" them. UN sources estimate that 600,000 residents have fled the capital as the militants press their campaign of violence.
Former Vice President Al Gore ripped into his own country Thursday at the UN climate conference in Indonesia, accusing it of being "principally responsible" for the lack of progress in setting binding greenhouse gas emissions limits. Gore (above, addressing the conference) urged delegates to come to an agreement even without American backing and predicted that the next president would lead the US "to somewhere it is not now" in supporting binding targets. The conference is due to end Friday.
A vote is scheduled Saturday in four of Bolivia's wealthier provinces to sever relations with President Evo Morales's government over his reform agenda. The government, in turn, threatened to use force to prevent "any province, municipality, or civil leader [from attacking] our homeland's unity." For his part, Morales was expected to attend a rally Saturday to celebrate the rewriting of the Constitution, whose provisions cover most of the reforms he has proposed to empower the nation's indigenous majority
Sunny skies were forecast to return to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico Thursday as a weakened topical storm Olga cleared the area. But the rare December storm was blamed for at least 14 human deaths, landslides, and heavy flooding that forced authorities in the northern Dominican Republic to release water through a dam whose reservoir was swollen to capacity. Normally, hurricane season in the Caribbean ends Nov. 30. Above, Dominicans from Santiago de los Caballeros, wade through flooding caused by Olga.
Police and soldiers patrolled the streets of Honiara, the capital of the impoverished Solomon Islands, Thursday to protect against unrest after parliament ousted Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare in a vote of no confidence. His tumultuous eight-month rule was marked by a series of controversial appointments to his government and by a goverrning style that opponents called abrasive. He also chafed at a multinational peacekeeping force dominated by Australians, whose withdrawal he demanded.
A 10-year project to protect endangered orangutans before deforestation eliminates their environment was begun by Indonesia's government. The ranks of the last of Asia's great apes are estimated to have thinned by 3,000 a year since the 1970s due to forest fires, illegal logging, and the international trade in exotic animals. Ecologists estimate that orangutans could become extinct by 2050.