A slight slip in the price of crude oil was occurring on world markets Monday after the record spike of almost $11 a barrel late last week pushed them as high as $139.12. The price of benchmark Brent crude for July delivery fell to $136.09 a barrel in London and $135.86 in New York, although analysts predicted "choppy" up-and-down trading until demand drops, perhaps late in the summer driving season in the US. The spike last Friday occurred after one prominent analyst predicted that strong demand in Asia could push prices to $150 a barrel by next month.
From Spain, France, and Portugal to South Korea, tens of thousands of truck drivers began strikes Monday or voted to impose them soon in the latest protests against the soaring price of fuel. Drivers trying to defy the shutdown at a crossing between Spain and France had their tires slashed and windshields broken. In Kashmir, India, police fired water cannon and beat participants with batons in a similar protest. Seeking to calm anger over a 41 percent increase in gasoline, Malaysia imposed cost-cutting measures on government employees.
With orders to "make your best efforts to achieve what the people want," South Korean government officials and legislators were flying to the US Monday to reopen discussion of the beef-trade agreement between their countries. Assurances that no meat would be imported from cattle 30 months or older when slaughtered have failed to stop massive street protests among Koreans worried about the potential for so-called mad-cow disease. The issue also has prompted speculation that President Lee Myung Bak may reshuffle his cabinet.
A "long march" on Pakistan's capital was begun by thousands of lawyers in other cities Monday to pressure the new government to reinstate judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf. The marchers have vowed to stage a prolonged "sit-in" once they arrive in Islamabad. The government said it would not try to stop them "as long as they are peaceful."
Although no deal appeared imminent, most striking farmers in Argentina were expected to allow soybean exports to resume Monday. President Cristina Fernandez has refused to rescind the 13 percent increase in export taxes that led to almost three months of strikes. Officials of her government also suggested they won't attend a new round of negotiations ordered by the nation's ombudsman. But strike organizers said, "We have to give dialogue a chance to develop."
Strong aftershocks were expected in Greece following an earthquake that killed at least two people, injured 147 others, and caused heavy property damage Sunday. The 6.5-magnitude quake struck two southwestern provinces, flattening or damaging hundreds of houses and chasing frightened residents of others outdoors to sleep. The government offered payments of €3,000 ($4,680) to those whose primary homes were destroyed.
Emerging from retirement, former French President Jacques Chirac launched a foundation to tackle issues ranging from improving water-delivery systems in poor countries to preserving cultures that are in danger of becoming extinct. Using private donations, the Chirac Foundation also will work on the problems of deforestation and desertification. Chirac largely has kept a low profile since leaving office in May of last year.
Rescuers were bringing 23 men to the surface of a Ukrainian coal mine Monday after a gas explosion trapped them deep underground. The mine was closed for safety reasons at the time of the blast, but the workers had been sent down to make improvements to conditions. One miner died in the explosion, five others were hurt, and 13 remained missing.