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ISRAEL: Officials attacked over fire

Israeli officials came under sharp criticism Sunday for their handling of the country's deadliest wildfire ever, prompting critics to ask whether the nation's leaders can cope with more serious challenges, such as rocket attacks and a nuclear-armed Iran. The blaze has claimed 41 lives and devastated one of the few forests in the arid country. Late Sunday, a senior fire official, Boaz Rakia, declared the blaze under control, though it was unclear when it would be extinguished. Israeli media are pointing fingers at a number of officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party whose office oversees fire services.


IVORY COAST: African Union seeks to mediate crisis

International mediators tried to intervene Sunday in the political crisis after both candidates in the disputed runoff election said they were now president. In the northern opposition stronghold of Bouake, several hundred people marched down a main boulevard, calling for incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to stand down. "It's important not to have violence, not to return to war - to find a peaceful solution," former South African President Thabo Mbeki said after arriving in Abidjan to try to mediate at the behest of the African Union. The international community has recognized opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the winner. That did not stop Gbagbo from defying calls to concede.


MEXICO: Open climate talks vowed

Mexico's Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa told the global climate conference in Cancún there will be no secret negotiations in its final days, assuring delegates they will not see a repeat of the last hours of 2009's Copenhagen climate summit. In closed-door midnight talks at last December's summit in Denmark, U.S. President Barack Obama and a handful of other leaders produced a "Copenhagen Accord," a document envisioning only voluntary reductions in global-warming gases. It disappointed treaty nations and outraged some with the closed nature of the decision-making.

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