Sending his strongest signal yet that Israel may use military force against Iran, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told parliament Monday that he rules out "no options" to keep the Islamic republic from adding nuclear weapons to its arsenal. Analysts said the prime minister's words were meant to "increase the urgency to find a diplomatic solution [and to make sure] that the international community stays alert to the Iranian nuclear issue."
Traders bid up the price of an ounce of gold to a new record Monday: $915.90. The precious metal later settled back to $908.15 as investors hedged against the potential of a recession and another lowering of federal interest rates in the US. At the same time, platinum reached a record $1,578 an ounce on the London exchange, and silver closed at its highest price in 27 years: $16.55. Below, a jewelry store clerk in Hong Kong pulls a gold necklace from a display case to show to a customer.
The Taliban claimed responsibility Monday for a bold early-evening assault on the leading luxury hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed at least two people and wounded several others. Reports said one militant detonated an explosive vest while three others threw hand grenades or fired AK-47 rifles before fleeing. Norway's foreign minister was staying at the hotel but was not among the casualties.
Senior security officials in Britain warned of a new strategy being employed by Al Qaeda: the recruitment of white non-Muslims for terrorist operations. The Scotland on Sunday newspaper said as many as 1,500 people are estimated to have been converted to the terrorist cause, many of them while completing prison sentences. Experts told the newspaper that the danger of the new strategy is twofold: Whites are far more likely than radicals of South Asian descent to escape detection by security forces, and new recruits tend to be "more zealous than those who have grown up with that specific religion."
Suspicion immediately fell on Muslim separatists for an ambush that killed eight government soldiers in restive southern Thailand Monday. One of the victims was beheaded in the attack, and military sources said similar attempts had been made on the others. Four more soldiers accompanying the victims' vehicle (which was upended in the attack, above) escaped to safety, reports said. Their convoy had just escorted teachers to school in Narathiwat Province when the ambush took place.
After 41 years, the government of Malawi cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan Monday and switched its allegiance to China. The move was not unexpected: Earlier this month, the government canceled a meeting with Taiwanese officials. Taiwan subsequently conceded that it couldn't match a Chinese offer of $6 billion in aid to Malawi, one of Africa's poorest countries. Malawi's decision leaves Taiwan with just 23 diplomatic partners, almost all of them small and impoverished.
Residents were being evacuated from a market district in Calcutta, India, as firefighters and Army troops struggled for a third straight day to contain a massive blaze that has destroyed thousands of shops and knocked out electricity and telephone service. An insufficient supply of water was keeping the crews from bringing the blaze under control, reports said. The fire is being called the worst in the city in decades.
Action-film star Jet Li will forfeit $27 million in earnings this year in favor of two charity projects, reports said Monday. The actor announced he will help raise money to help victims of natural disasters around the world as well as Chinese youths dealing with mental illness. He said he has enlisted fellow action star Jackie Chan and Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee to assist in the effort. Li said he turned down two offers from American filmmakers to make time for the charitable work.