The transfer of $25 million in North Korean funds to a new account finally is complete, reports said over the weekend, and a team from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency was on its way to the reclusive communist country for consultations on shutting down the Yongbyon reactor and other nuclear facilities. Special US envoy Christopher Hill said he expected the shutdown to be complete "probably within three weeks" but did not want to be held to a precise date. The transfer of the funds from a bank in Macao had held up the closure of Yongbyon for more than two months.
For ordering poison gas attacks against ethnic Kurds in 1988, a cousin of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was sentenced Sunday to death by hanging. Ali Hassan al-Majid (left), otherwise known as "Chemical Ali," was a senior Baath Party executive in northern Iraq under Hussein. The war-crimes tribunal in Baghdad also ordered two others from Hussein's regime to be executed and sentenced two more to life terms in prison.
A "ferocious" new crackdown on dissent is under way in Iran, The New York Times reported Sunday. It said labor leaders, journalists, women's rights advocates, university students and professors, and Iranian-Americans particularly are being targeted, using US support for regime change and the potential for a military strike against Iran's nuclear sites as pretexts. The number of arrests alone for wearing clothing deemed un-Islamic was put at 150,000, far higher than in years past, the Times said.
Saying, "There is no winner or loser," a spokeswoman for Nigeria's new government confirmed a deal with labor unions, ending a four-day general strike that had all but ground economic activity to a halt. The government pledged not to raise the price of gasoline again for one year, and the unions settled for cutting in half the 15 percent hike imposed by President Olusegun Obasanjo in the final days of his rule. His successor, Umaru YarAdua, had offered the cut last week as one of a series of compromises aimed at forestalling the strike.
Fighting between Army troops and Islamist militants in Lebanon spread to the city of Tripoli Sunday, and seven of the latter were killed. In a 10-hour siege of an apartment building, one soldier died and 14 others were wounded. The militants also shot dead a policeman, his daughter, and another relative who lived in the building. Above, other residents use heavily damaged stairs to leave the building afterward.
Voters in Nepal will choose a new parliament Nov. 22, the interim government announced Sun-day. Balloting was to have taken place this month, but the elections commission protested that there wasn't enough time to organize it. The 497-member constituent assembly will be tasked with drafting a new constitution that decides the fate of the monarchy. The election will be the first in Nepal in eight years.
Deepening his feud with the opposition-dominated Congress, Ecuador's leftist president said he has changed his mind and now thinks it must be dissolved. "With this Congress, you can't do anything," Rafael Correa complained on his weekly radio address Saturday. Earlier, he'd said he did not favor dismissing the lawmakers even though he calls Congress "a sewer of corruption." Ecuadorans are scheduled to elect a special 130-member assembly Sept. 30 to write a new Constitution, and Correa said it also should fire the lawmakers.
Relentless monsoon rains in Pakistan's largest city have caused flooding, traffic accidents, the collapse of houses, and other problems that have killed at least 228 people, authorities said Sunday. Low-lying sections of Karachi were underwater, and most of the city was without electricity. The annual monsoons are vital for farmers, but they wreak havoc in urban areas.