- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SUDAN

Ruling expected on North-South rift

A decision expected this week by an arbitration court at The Hague on Sudans oil-rich province of Abyei, which sits on the disputed border between the Khartoum government and the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, looms as a test.

The Enough Project, an organization created to combat genocide and crimes against humanity, on Wednesday issued a call to both parties to respect the courts verdict and to the international community to take steps to make sure that they do.

Khartoums Arab rulers and the South, rooted in Christian and traditional religious beliefs, each want control of the oil-rich province - a major obstacle to carrying out the terms of a 2005 peace accord.

CHINA

Authorities shutter more Web sites @Text.rag.noindent:BEIJING | Several Chinese Internet sites and parts of popular Web portals went off-line Tuesday amid tightening controls that already have left mainland Web users without access to Facebook, Twitter and other well-known social networking sites.

China stepped up its crackdown on social networking sites in March over online allegations surrounding the treatment of Tibetans, and the blockages continued through the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the recent ethnic riots in Xinjiang.

The harsh measures are also thought to be part of efforts to ensure social stability ahead of the 60th anniversary of communist rule on Oct. 1.

China, with the world’s largest population of Internet users at more than 298 million, has the world’s most extensive system of Web monitoring and censorship.

AFGHANISTAN

Militants attack near U.S. base

GARDEZ | Eight Taliban militants attacked three government buildings and a U.S. base in two eastern cities Tuesday in near-simultaneous attacks, a signature of major Taliban assaults. Eight insurgents and six Afghan security forces died.

Using suicide bombings, gunfire and rockets, the militants attacked the governor’s compound, the intelligence department and the police department in the eastern city of Gardez just before 11 a.m.

Tribal elders and government officials had just finished a meeting at the governor’s compound on security for the country’s Aug. 20 presidential election when gunfire broke out at the nearby intelligence department, said deputy Gov. Abdul Rahman Mangal.

Three militants, meanwhile, tried to attack a U.S. base in a second eastern city at nearly the same time. U.S. and Afghan forces killed two of the assailants at the base near the city of Jalalabad.

ITALY

Sex tapes hurt Berlusconi in poll

ROME | The approval rating of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has been dogged by a messy divorce and accusations of cavorting with teenage girls and escorts, has fallen below 50 percent for the first time.

A poll Tuesday had only 49 percent expressing confidence in him as prime minister, four points down from the last time the same group, IPR Marketing, took it in May. Fifty percent said they had “little or no” confidence.

The poll, taken for La Repubblica newspaper, was published a day after the Web sites of L’Espresso weekly and La Repubblica posted recordings of conversations purported to be between Mr. Berlusconi and Patrizia D’Addario, a high-end escort who says she and other women were paid to attend parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s residence in Rome.

Mr. Berlusconi, 72, has not denied that the 42-year-old woman went to his home, but he has said he did not know she was an escort.

INDIA

Surviving terrorist describes training

MUMBAI | The lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks Tuesday described the indoctrination he received in Pakistan before being sent to India to kill as many people as possible, but the judge sealed the testimony.

The judge also deferred a decision on whether to accept Ajmal Kasab’s unexpected confession from the day before. Mr. Kasab, a Pakistani on trial in a special court, caught prosecution and defense lawyers by surprise Monday when he suddenly told the judge he wanted to plead guilty to the November attacks that left 166 people dead.

As part of his confession, he said he was recruited by a Pakistani militant group while he was looking for training to become a professional robber.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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