- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2009

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma warns of rich-poor divide

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa may face instability unless it closes the gap between rich and poor, President Jacob Zuma said in remarks that could make foreign investors fear a leftward shift in economic policy.

But Mr. Zuma, inaugurated last month, may also be headed for a confrontation with union allies who have threatened to stage mass strikes for deeper interest rate cuts and called for Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni to go.

In comments broadcast Sunday, Mr. Zuma said ignoring poverty in Africa’s biggest economy would be risky.

One of Mr. Zuma’s toughest tasks will be balancing the interests of the unions that helped his rise and those of foreign investors.

MEXICO

Children buried after school fire

HERMOSILLO | Grieving parents buried their children Sunday after a devastating day care fire killed 38 infants and toddlers in a tragedy that stunned Mexico and prompted its president to promise a thorough investigation.

Funeral processions drove slowly to churches in the northwestern city of Hermosillo decorated with balloons and flowers.

The family of 2-year-old Maria Magdalena Millan dropped white roses on her casket and attached a Dora the Explorer balloon to the cross marking her grave at one of the first funerals held Saturday.

President Felipe Calderon arrived in Hermosillo late Saturday to console the injured. He wished surviving children a speedy recovery and promised families full support from his health ministry and a thorough investigation into the cause of a tragedy that he said all Mexicans felt.

IRAQ

Contractors arrested by Iraq authorities

BAGHDAD | Iraqi authorities have detained five U.S. contractors in connection with the death of another American contractor in Baghdad, officials said Sunday in what could be the first case of Americans facing local justice under a joint security pact, which took effect this year.

The body of Jim Kitterman — who was reportedly bound, blindfolded and stabbed — was found in his car last month in the protected Green Zone, where his small construction company was based.

It was an unprecedented slaying in the sprawling district and occurred at a time when blast walls are coming down and Iraqi forces are assuming greater control of their own security.

U.S. Embassy spokesman James Fennell confirmed that five Americans are in Iraqi custody but said no formal charges have been filed so he couldn’t provide further details about the detention.

SOMALIA

Radio newsman fatally shot

MOGADISHU | The director of Somalia’s Shabelle radio network was fatally shot in Mogadishu on Sunday, one of his colleagues who was also wounded in the attack told Agence France-Presse.

The assassination of Mokhtar Mohamed Hirabe took place in the capital’s restive Bakara area, witnesses said.

“We were walking in the street together,” Ahmed Omar Hashi said from his bed in Medina hospital.

Another Somali radio journalist was killed in clashes last month.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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