Iran will not be allowed to seal the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital corridors for shipments of oil, the commander of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet warned Wednesday. Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff's remarks followed an Iranian threat to block the strait if Israel or any Western power attacked nuclear facilities in the Islamic republic. The narrow channel has been the scene of at least two incidents between US and Iranian naval vessels since the middle of December. An estimated 25 million barrels of crude pass through it each day.Skip to next paragraph
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A Palestinian construction vehicle operator was shot dead in Jerusalem Wednesday morning but not until after a rampage on a busy street that killed three people, injured 45 others, and crushed or overturned cars and buses. The incident, described by police as an independent and spontaneous act of terrorism, was the first major attack in the city since a Palestinian gunman killed eight students at a seminary in March.
Conditions are not right for discussions on a possible unity government in Zimbabwe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday. Hard-line President Robert Mugabe has said he's ready to negotiate with Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change "and other parties as well" following the June 27 discredited runoff election. But such an effort would be meaningless, Tsvangirai said, unless President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is replaced as mediator.
Led by sell-offs of transportation, banking, and automaker stocks, Japan's benchmark Nikkei index lost 1.3 percent of its value Wednesday. The decline extended a 10-day trend – the longest in 43 years – and brought the index to its lowest close since mid-April.
Millions of commercial truck drivers across India began an open-ended strike Wednesday after negotiations between their union and the government broke down over relief from rising fuel prices and increased road tolls. The government, which controls the price of diesel, has raised it in two increments this year by 17 percent, leaving truckers with "nothing left to live on," a union spokesman said. Seventy percent of India's consumer goods are transported by truck, and analysts said a prolonged strike could have serious negative effects on the booming economy.
Soldiers and police were enforcing a four-day state of emergency in Mongolia's capital after demonstrators protesting alleged election fraud set the ruling party's headquarters on fire. At least five people died in the violence Tuesday, 220 others were hurt, and an estimated 1,000 were arrested. Official results of the voting aren't due to be released until next week, but preliminary totals gave the formerly communist People's Revolutionary Party a comfortable majority of seats in parliament.
Relations worsened between the governments of Bolivia and Peru Tuesday as pro-US President Alan Garcia told his leftist counterpart to mind his own business. Peru also withdrew its ambassador after Bolivia's Evo Morales alleged that Garcia secretly had agreed to allow the US to site a military base there. The Bush administration denies having any such plan. Garcia and Morales also are at odds over a free-trade agreement with the US.
Molten lava spewed from the Llaima volcano in Chile Tuesday, causing the government to order a nine-mile exclusion zone and the evacuation of residents. Llaima had been quiet since erupting New Year's Day and belching ash into February. The volcano is 434 miles south of Santiago, Chile's capital, but well north of Mt. Chaiten, which erupted May 2 for the first time in thousands of years and still is emitting ash and gas.