Calling his defeated opponent "a very considerable public servant," London's Conservative new mayor was sworn in Saturday, ending eight years of controversial rule by leftist Ken Livingstone. Boris Johnson's victory in last week's election capped the worst outcome at the polls for the ruling Labour Party in 40 years. Reflecting on the defeat, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC, "I feel responsible." But he said he did not expect any challenges to his leadership from within Labour's ranks.Skip to next paragraph
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Representatives of the Dalai Lama and China's Communist Party opened fence-mending talks Sunday, apparently in the southern city of Shenzen. There were no early details on their discussions, the first since violent antigovernment protests in Tibet in March. President Hu Jintao told reporters he hoped for a "positive outcome." Still, his government kept up its criticism of the exiled Buddhist leader, calling him "a loyal tool of international anti-Chinese forces."
Supporters of leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales hurled rocks and brandished sticks Sunday as they tried to keep residents of affluent Santa Cruz State from voting in a referendum on autonomy. But despite reports of injuries, supporters of the measure vowed they would not be dissuaded from going to the polls. The state's leaders say they do not favor secession but want residents to keep a greater share of the revenues from natural gas and farming rather than allowing Morales to redistribute them to the poor. Three other states have scheduled similar referendums next month.
A disaster area was declared for southern Burma (Myanmar) after a powerful cyclone that killed at least 351 people and filled the streets of Yangon, the ex-capital, with fallen trees and debris from thousands of battered buildings. The 120 m.p.h. storm also closed Yangon's international airport, blocked highways, and knocked out electricity. It was not immediately clear how it would affect the national referendum scheduled for Saturday on a proposed new constitution.
A volcano that had been dormant for thousands of years rumbled back to life in southern Chile over the weekend, covering the nearest town with six inches of ash and forcing residents to evacuate. Authorities could not say when they'd be able to return. The ash made visibility poor around Mt. Chaiten, 760 miles south of Santiago, the capital, and the sulfurous air was difficult to breathe. According to geologists, the volcano had not erupted in at least 2,000 years.
Environmental activists from Greenpeace are expected in the capital of Alberta Monday to demand tougher regulation of the province's oil sands industry after an estimated 500 migratory ducks landed in a pool of toxic wastewater and died last week. Syncrude Ltd., whose operations were responsible, apologized in full-page newspaper ads and pledged that such "a sad event" would never happen again. Greenpeace said the incident wasn't isolated, as the company claimed, and called the apology "hollow."
With 984 passengers still aboard, rescue crews were to try to dislodge a chartered cruise ship that ran aground off Latvia's coast early Sunday. There was no obvious evidence of damage to the Mona Lisa, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said, and the passengers were in no immediate danger.
In a historic cultural event, women joined men for a performance of classical music over the weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. By tradition, the sexes do not mix publicly in the rigidly Muslim kingdom, and music is banned in public. But the concert, by a touring quartet based in Germany, was held in a government cultural center, and admission was free. The quartet's only woman dressed in trousers and a long, green top rather than wearing the all-enveloping black abaya required of females in public.