In prisons, hospitals, and Army camps, Iraqis cast the first votes for a new parliament Monday, with their countrymen living overseas to follow Tuesday. All other voters will go to the polls Thursday. Against that backdrop, results of a new survey showed 71 percent of respondents believe their quality of life there is "very good" or "quite good." The poll was conducted for the BBC and other major news organizations. At the same time, terrorist groups led by Al Qaeda in Iraq posted a joint statement on an Islamist website denouncing the election as a "satanic project" in which participation "is religiously prohibited." Unlike earlier votes in Iraq, however, the groups made no specific threat to try disrupting it.

Six more arrests were reported as racial violence spilled over into a second straight night in a seaside suburb of Sydney, Australia. Residents said they worried that the trouble "is only the beginning" after as many as 50 carloads of men returned to the scene of the earlier rioting, smashing store and vehicle windows. Calls for a repeat of the violence next weekend reportedly were circulating via cellphone text messages. At least 31 people were hurt and 16 were arrested Sunday night in clashes involving police, angry whites, and young men of Middle Eastern appearance. Muslim clerics and community leaders were summoned to meetings to urge their followers not to retaliate or react to provocations. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been growing since 88 Australian tourists were killed in terrorist bombings on Bali, the Indonesian resort island.

A convoy of police vehicles rolled into the already heavily guarded township in southern China Monday where police shot at least three protesters to death last week, and TV reports said nine people were arrested on suspicion of taking part in the demonstration. Residents of Dongzhou told the Agence France-Press news agency that the pictures of more than 100 suspected participants were appearing on fugitive posters and that "many" who were wounded in the clash were hiding rather than going to hospitals for treatment. The shootings appear to be the first use of deadly force against civilians in China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.

The first shipments of beef from the US and Canada could arrive in Japan before Christmas after the government in Tokyo agreed to ease its ban on imports Monday - two years after the discovery of so-called mad cow disease on North American ranches. In return, the Bush administration lifted its ban on certain cuts of Japanese beef that had been in place due to infected cattle in that country. Before the prohibition, Japan had been the No. 1 overseas market for beef produced in the US. The eased restrictions, however, cover only meat from cows under 2-1/2 years old, and recent surveys have shown that Japanese consumers remain leery of US beef.

Half of the 20 burning oil storage tanks at a terminal north of London were extinguished by firefighters by midday Monday. But many local residents still were not being allowed back into their homes, and winds already had pushed thick black smoke from the blaze over coastal France. Left to itself, what remains of the 4.2 million gallons of oil in the depot's tanks might take as many as three days to burn itself out, a fire chief said. The fire and explosions that caused it Sunday are being termed an accident.

With ballot-counting all but complete, it appeared clear that no candidate in Chile's presidential election Sunday would win a majority of votes, requiring a Jan. 15 runoff. Socialist physician and former Defense Minister Michelle Bachelet had a 45.9 percent to 25.5 percent lead over her closest rival, wealthy businessman and ex-senator Sebastian Piñiera. But fellow conservative candidate Joaquin Lavin, who was in third place with 23 percent of the vote, announced he was throwing his support to Piñiera for the runoff.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.