With tensions running high between his country and the US, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a confrontational tone before flying to New York for the opening session of the UN General Assembly. Ahmadinejad appeared Saturday at an annual parade of military might and – in a reference to the Bush administration – said "decaying methods such as so-called economic sanctions" would not "prevent Iran's fast drive toward progress." People in the US, he said, have been denied "correct information" about Iran and his trip would allow them to hear "a different voice."
Ousting Blackwater USA's guards from Iraq would cause "a security vacuum," a senior official in Baghdad said Sunday. Instead, he said, regulations governing private security operations will be revamped in the wake of the shooting deaths of civilians in Baghdad Sept. 16. Blackwater has insisted that the guards fired only in self-defense. Iraq's Interior Ministry banned the company but later reconsidered after the US agreed to an investigation of the incident.
Israel's cabinet voted Sunday to release 90 Palestinian prisoners in a goodwill gesture to shore up Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his struggle for power with Hamas. But the gesture won little thanks. An Abbas deputy said Israel had ignored demands for "a large release" and that the "unilateral move does not do much to support the ... legitimate government." More than 11,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails.
"Five or six" opposition leaders in Pakistan were arrested in the capital, Islamabad, Saturday night because "they were threatening a law-and-order problem," the government said. Others for whom arrest warrants were issued have gone into hiding, a spokesman for the opposition alliance said. The opposition claims President Pervez Musharraf cannot legally seek the office in the Oct. 6 election as long as he remains Army chief.
A failure of rival political leaders to agree on a compromise candidate will delay Lebanon's presidential election until next month, sources close to the situation said Sunday. The vote in parliament remains scheduled for Tuesday, but it cannot take place without a figure acceptable to both anti-Syrian forces and those who are backed by the regime in Damascus. The term of pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud expired Nov. 23. The anti-Syrian coalition was reduced to 68 after last week's assassination of Christian legislator Antoine Ghanem.
No poll-watchers from the group that regularly monitors elections on the Continent will be allowed in Poland for the Oct. 21 vote to choose a new parliament, the Foreign Ministry said. It said a request by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was being rejected because Poland is a well-established democracy. Although Poland is an OSCE member, a ministry spokesman said the alliance had made "a faux pas" in not having waited for an invitation to monitor the election.
More than 100 fishermen were reported missing off the coast of Bangladesh Sunday, and an international maritime alert was issued as a powerful storm swept the Bay of Bengal. At least 50 other fishermen were rescued, authorities said, but a search for the others was being delayed until high winds and heavy seas subsided.
Marcel Marceau (above), who died Saturday in Paris, was internationally renowned for a career in mime that spanned more than 50 years. A Holocaust survivor, he said his inspiration was silent-movie legend Charlie Chaplin. In turn, he inspired countless other performers, among them pop icon Michael Jackson, whose famous "moonwalk" is borrowed from a Marceau routine. While he worked in silence onstage, he was notoriously chatty off it. He once told an interviewer: "Never get a mime talking; he won't stop."