- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

ISRAEL

Yom Kippur comes at time of tension

JERUSALEM | The start of the Jewish Day of Atonement at sundown Sunday marked the beginning of a day like no other in Israel, on which even Israelis with no connection to religion tend to put their normal lives on hold.

This year Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, comes at a particularly somber time following revelations of a previously hidden Iranian nuclear facility and more missile tests by the Revolutionary Guard.

“That proves to whoever was still in doubt that Iran is the most serious threat today on the peace of the world and its security,” said Israeli Deputy Foreign Ministry Danny Ayalon, speaking to Israeli Channel 10.

Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear program, missile development and repeated references by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Israel’s destruction.

When Yom Kippur began about 5 p.m. local time, TV and radio stations blinked off the air, flights in and out of Israel’s international airport ceased, and nearly all businesses closed. The streets emptied of cars and cities and highways were eerily quiet.

HONDURAS

Brazil gets deadline to expel Zelaya

TEGUCIGALPA | Honduras’ interim government gave Brazil a 10-day ultimatum Sunday to decide what to do with ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who took refuge in the Brazilian Embassy after sneaking back into this Central American nation.

A spokesman for interim President Roberto Micheletti warned Brazilian authorities to “immediately take measures to ensure that Mr. Zelaya stops using the protection offered by the diplomatic mission to instigate violence in Honduras.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immediately rejected the missive, saying his government “doesn’t accept ultimatums from coup-plotters.”

Mr. Micheletti didn’t specify what he would do after 10 days. He has said previously that he plans to arrest Mr. Zelaya, who was deposed in a June 28 coup. Mr. Zelaya was arrested on treason and abuse of authority charges for ignoring court orders to drop plans for a referendum on rewriting the constitution.

Soldiers sent to arrest him deported him, fearing unrest if he were jailed in the country.

THAILAND

Climate bill weighs on U.S.

BANGKOK | The fate of a U.S. bill capping carbon emissions was expected to weigh heavily on delegates in U.N. climate talks that begin in the Thai capital Monday, with the Americans saying delays on the domestic front could hamper their efforts to extract concessions from other nations.

Negotiations on a new U.N. climate pact have already been bogged down by a broad unwillingness to commit to firm emissions targets and a refusal by developing countries to sign a deal until the West guarantees tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance - something rich countries have so far refused to do.

The U.N. climate talks - held over two weeks in Bangkok - are drawing about 1,500 delegates from 180 countries to try to reduce a 200-page draft agreement. They are also hoping to build on the goodwill shown at U.N. climate talks in New York last week, where world leaders expressed support for reaching a climate pact this year.

In June, the House passed the first U.S. legislation to cap carbon emissions. The Senate, which is currently embroiled in the health care debate, is expected to take up the legislation as early as this week.

PHILIPPINES

Villagers recovering from huge flood

MANILA | Many Filipino villagers managed to save only the clothes on their backs but began to rebuild Sunday as the flood waters receded from a tropical storm that set off the worst flooding in the Philippine capital in 42 years and left about 80 dead.

Army troops, police and civilian volunteers plucked dead bodies from muddy flood waters and rescued drenched survivors from rooftops after Tropical Storm Ketsana tore through the northern Philippines a day earlier, leaving at least 106 people dead and missing.

Some residents began to clean up as the flood waters receded. Still, many parts of the capital remained flooded. A brief period of sunshine showed the extent of the devastation in many neighborhoods: destroyed houses, overturned vehicles and roads covered in debris and mud.

Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, causing the government to declare a “state of calamity” in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces. The declaration allowed officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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