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World

December 1, 2008



Government troops enforced an uneasy calm in Jos, Nigeria, after two days of ethnic and sectarian violence that killed an estimated 400 people. The injured also numbered in the hundreds, and property damage was heavy. The nation's worst unrest in years erupted after Christians and Muslims couldn't settle a dispute over local election results.

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Police in Karachi, Pakistan, were ordered to shoot troublemakers on sight after two days of fighting between ethnic Pashtuns and Urdu-speaking refugees from India. At least 16 people were killed, 77 others were hurt, and 100 more were arrested. Gas stations in the huge city were closed to keep fuel out of the hands of would-be arsonists who already had set fire to cars and a lumber yard. Karachi has a long history of political, ethnic, and religious violence.

Members of OPEC, the oil cartel, adjourned a meeting Saturday without deciding on a new reduction in output. But Iran proposed a cut of 2 million barrels a day for consideration at another meeting scheduled for Dec. 17. Trading in crude futures closed at $54.43 a barrel Friday, down almost 60 percent from the spike last July of $147. In an interview, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said $75 would be "a fair price." OPEC, which produces 40 percent of the world's oil, cut output by 1.5 million barrels a day Oct. 24.

International help is urgently needed by Somalia now that neighboring Ethiopia has decided to withdraw its troops, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and opposition leaders said. They appealed particularly for more African Union peacekeepers to supplement the small force already there, which confines itself mainly to base because of security concerns. Islamist militants, who were forced from power with Ethiopian help in early 2007, have regained control over most of the country. Ethiopia's government announced Sat-urday that its remaining forces will leave Somalia by Dec. 31.

Using a procedural maneuver, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed for one week an opposition attempt to topple his minority government via a vote of no confidence in Parliament. Harper's Conservatives also withdrew a controversial proposal that would have eliminated taxpayer subsidies for political parties. But opponents, led by the Liberal Party, were not mollified and were discussing the possible formation of an "alternative" coalition to replace Harper's newly reelected government after just six weeks in office.

Five months after being rescued from Colombian leftist rebels, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt made a surprise visit to Bogatá, pledging to do all she can to obtain the release of other hostages. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia still hold at least 28 captives. But Betancourt, who was freed by trickery in July, cautioned against trying a similar tactic again.

Rebel leader Joseph Kony failed to appear at the signing ceremony for a final peace agreement with the government of Uganda Saturday, and it was unclear whether the latter's representatives and mediators would remain at the scene for his possible late arrival. The Lord's Resistance Army chief also didn't show up last April when the signing originally was to take place. Ugandan officials have said they'll ask for his war-crimes indictments to be dropped by the International Criminal Court, but only after he signs.

Rescue efforts for a pod of pilot whales that beached themselves on the west coast of Tasmania failed Sunday, and at least 150 were found dead. The beaching was the second on the island state in less than a week. Earlier, 65 pilot whales became stranded; 11 were rescued and returned to sea. Tasmania is on a migratory route to and from Antarctica's waters.

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