Iraqis are less concerned about violence in their midst and more confident about their futures than they were a year ago, a new survey has found. The poll, conducted last month by ABC News, the BBC, and Japan's NHK Television, sampled 2,228 people across all 18 provinces. Eight-five percent of respondents described current conditions as "very good" or "quite good," an increase of 23 points over March 2008. Fifty-six percent said they believe their lives will be better a year from now.
Aides to Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he has reached agreement for a coalition government with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beytenu Party. The deal reportedly calls for the latter's leader, Avigdor Lieberman, to be foreign minister. But the aides said its wording leaves an opening for the current office holder, Tzipi Livni, to keep the post if her Kadima Party were to join the coalition. Such an outcome appeared increasingly unlikely, however, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Crude oil prices for future delivery appeared likely to close at around $44 a barrel Monday after OPEC chose not to impose a new cut in production. The 12-member cartel decided it could afford to produce oil at lower prices for the short term. But Secretary-General Adullah al-Badri said, "We really can't go too long, because at this price there is no way we can invest" in raising production capacity. OPEC is due to meet again May 28.
More suspects in the shooting deaths of two soldiers and a policeman in Northern Ireland were being questioned Monday, bringing to 11 the number arrested so far. All have been identified as Irish Republican Army dissidents. While there were no indications that the murders are fraying sectarian relations, the British Army canceled a planned parade in Belfast, the capital, for troops returning next month from Iraq.
North Korean officials reopened the border crossing to South Korea Monday, allowing hundreds of stranded industrial park employees to return home. But the gesture was one way only; South Koreans who work at the complex were not permitted to report to their jobs in the North. In a response that analysts said likely would add to tensions on the peninsula, South Korea's Unification Ministry said all costs of the blockade, especially in lost production, must be borne by the North.
All international aid organization must leave Sudan "within a year," President Omar al-Bashir told his security forces Monday. Analysts saw the order as further defiance against the warrant for his arrest issued by the UN's International Criminal Court. Bashir, who already has expelled 13 aid groups, said those wishing to continue providing help "can just leave it at the airport and [we'll] distribute it." In the meantime, aid organizations still in Sudan must respect its sovereignty "or pay the price," he said.
Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina rejected the offer by Madagascar's president of a referendum to settle their power struggle and called on security forces to arrest his rival. Rajoelina said the only solution to the dispute is for President Marc Ravalomanana to resign. Explosions and gunfire were heard outside the presidential palace Monday, but the military denied responsibility and there were no signs that it had yet to take sides.
Hundreds of news organizations from around the world converged on St. Poelten, Austria, for the highly anticipated trial of Josef Fritzl, the retiree accused of imprisoning his own daughter and fathering her seven children. Fritzl, who hid behind a folder for much of the opening session, admitted guilt on charges of rape and incest but denied he'd murdered one infant by refusing him medical attention. If convicted, Fritzl could be sentenced to life in prison.