A decade of reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas appeared to be ending Monday as the North implemented new border-control measures. The policy resulted in the loss of all but 880 South Korean jobs at a factory complex on the North's side of the Demilitarized Zone where 4,200 permit-holders previously worked. Also suspended: guided tours and rail service. The crackdown began one week before the Koreas and their four negotiating partners are due to open the next round of talks on the North's nuclear program.
Saying, "They were daydreaming," Zimbabwe's government declared Monday it won't obey a regional court ruling that 75 white farmers may keep their land. The Southern Africa Development Community tribunal also ordered that other whites whose land was seized in the government's redistribution program must be compensated financially. Much of the seized land has been transferred to inexperienced black farmers, resulting in a massive decline in food production.
Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa have agreed to free a cargo ship seized last week without collecting a ransom, reports said Monday. Somalia's president said a Saudi supertanker hijacked Nov. 15 also would be released "soon" without a ransom. Owners of the latter vessel reportedly did not meet Sunday's deadline for payment of $25 million demanded by the hijackers.
As expected, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela announced he'll try again for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for reelection indefinitely. The leftist leader lost a nationwide referendum on the issue last December, although the margin was narrow. Opponents, who accuse him of dictatorial tendencies, quickly predicted that his new bid to rule for life would be defeated overwhelmingly.
Tough negotiations to form a new coalition government appeared likely in Romania as vote-counting neared completion after Sunday's election. The opposition Liberal Democrats and the formerly communist Social Democrats were 0.5 percentage points apart, with the rightist Liberal Party a distant third. Balloting turned largely on the nation's future course amid global financial turmoil.
Voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly OK'd the legalization of a pilot project that gives measured doses of heroin to addicts. The $22 million-a-year program, aimed at discouraging users from injecting themselves in public, is largely paid for out of mandatory health insurance. It has been replicated on a smaller trial basis in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Britain, and Canada. By a similar margin, the voters rejected a companion measure that would have decriminalized marijuana.
Five days after they offered en masse to quit, Kuwait's emir accepted the resignations of his cabinet ministers. But he reappointed Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, his nephew. The resignations were tendered to prevent members of parliament from questioning Sheikh Nasser about why he OK'd the visit of an Iranian Shiite cleric who allegedly made remarks offensive to Sunni Muslims.
Tourists were urged not to come to Venice Monday because flood waters in the city were projected to reach the highest level in 30 years. The problem was blamed on rain-swollen tides, which were being pushed by strong winds.
More than 1,200 species, five of them previously unknown, have been found in the first comprehensive inventory of life in the southern polar region, the BBC reported. It said British and German researchers surveyed the land and seas of the South Orkney Islands and cataloged sea urchins, worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and "moss-like animals." The inventory will be used in monitoring how the region responds to future environmental changes.