Zeev Schiff, 74, dies; authority on defense
JERUSALEM — Defense reporter Zeev Schiff, one of Israel's most-respected and well-known journalists, has died, his newspaper, the Ha'aretz daily, announced. He was 74.
Mr. Schiff died Tuesday night, the newspaper said. It did not disclose a cause of death.
The journalist covered military and defense issues for Ha'aretz for more than 50 years, serving as the paper's defense editor in recent years. He published numerous books about regional military and security issues and contributed articles to Foreign Policy, National Interest, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, Ha'aretz said.
U.N. draft advances Kosovo independence
NEW YORK — Europeans and the United States circulated a U.N. draft resolution yesterday that paves the way to independence for Kosovo in four months, but Russia immediately said it was unacceptable.
The draft, obtained by Reuters news agency, asks for negotiations for another 120 days. If the talks fail, the resolution automatically would put into effect an independence plan drawn up by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari "unless the Security Council expressly decides otherwise after conducting an evaluation."
Russia, which has veto power on the 15-nation Security Council, still opposes independence for Kosovo, a Serbian province.
Crisis deepens for world refugees
NAIROBI — Last year was one of the worst for refugees, and the crisis is deepening this year thanks to conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan"s Darfur region, the United Nations' refugee chief said.
As refugee numbers rose for the first time in five years, the number of people displaced within their own borders reached a record high — more than doubling to almost 13 million, refugee agency UNHCR said.
But the accelerating return of refugees to their homes in southern Sudan this year — some after more than two decades — is one bright spot in the otherwise bad year, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.
Journalist's captors threaten death
GAZA CITY — The captors of British Broadcasting Corp. journalist Alan Johnston balked yesterday at demands by Hamas to release him and repeated their threats to kill him if Britain failed to free an Islamist prisoner, the SITE Institute reported.
Mr. Johnston was spending his 100th day in captivity in the Gaza Strip. The Islamist group Hamas, which took over the Palestinian territory last week, said it was still working to secure his release.
"Unless [Britain responds] to these demands, there will be no way out for this captive ... even if we have to slaughter him," SITE reported a spokesman for the Army of Islam as saying in a video. SITE is an independent service that monitors Islamist Web sites.
Iwo Jima name changed to Iwo To
TOKYO — Japan has changed the name of the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, site of the famous World War II battle, to its original name of Iwo To after residents there were prodded into action by two recent Clint Eastwood movies.
The new name in Japanese looks and means the same as Iwo Jima — or Sulfur Island — but sounds different, the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute said.
Iwo Jima was the site of the battle immortalized by the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press of U.S. Marines raising the American flag on the islet's Mount Suribachi.
From wire dispatches and staff reports