The week at a glance...International



Israel exonerated: U.N. war crimes envoy Richard Goldstone, the South African judge whose 2009 report accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza by deliberately targeting civilians, has recanted a key part of that report. “Civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,” Goldstone wrote last week in The Washington Post. He noted that while Israel has assiduously investigated allegations of wrongdoing by its soldiers during a three-week conflict in Gaza beginning in December 2008, and has since changed its rules for using lethal force, Hamas—which has made no secret of targeting Israeli civilians—has not opened a single investigation into its own alleged war crimes. Some 1,300 Palestinians died in Operation Cast Lead, including scores of children; 13 Israelis were killed.

Sanaa, Yemen

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U.S. wants Saleh out: The U.S. is trying to persuade its beleaguered Yemeni ally, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down, U.S. and Yemeni officials said this week. The Obama administration has relied on Saleh to fight the Yemeni branch of al Qaida, considered the most active branch in the world, and it largely refrained from criticizing him directly even as his supporters fired on demonstrators. But officials said the U.S. is now pushing for Saleh to cede power to a deputy, while keeping his relatives in charge of counterterrorism. The protesters find that formula inadequate. “We are really very, very angry because America until now didn’t help us,” said Tawakul Karman, a leader of the anti-government youth movement. “We feel that we have been betrayed.”


Karzai appeals to Congress: Not content with a strong statement from President Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. Congress this week to condemn U.S. Pastor Terry Jones for burning a Koran. Afghan news outlets had not initially reported the Koran burning last month by the Florida cleric, who leads a tiny Christian congregation of about 30 followers. But after Karzai and local mullahs denounced the act, an angry mob in Mazar-e Sharif last week attacked any foreigner it could find, murdering seven U.N. workers. In all, at least two dozen people were killed in riots last week. Karzai said that in addition to a congressional resolution, he wanted Jones “brought to justice.”


World champions of cricket: In what is thought to have been the most-viewed sports event ever, India defeated Sri Lanka last week in the Cricket World Cup. More than 1 billion people around the world watched the final match on television. India’s victory sparked wild, nationwide celebrations, and various levels of government rushed to lavish rewards on the players, who are treated like national treasures even when they’re not world champions. The Board of Control for Cricket in India gave each player $225,000, while state governments awarded tens of thousands of dollars to the players from their states. Some states have also offered land, medals, and honorary doctorates. Kingfisher Airlines has offered each athlete free air travel for life, and several auto companies have offered free cars.


Dissident arrested: The arrest of China’s most internationally famous artist this week has focused world attention on a new government crackdown on dissidents. Ai Weiwei, a U.S.-trained mixed-media artist who helped design the stadium for the Beijing Olympics, was arrested at the Beijing airport as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong. He is just one of dozens of prominent activists arrested over the past six weeks as worried Chinese authorities try to head off pro-democracy protests inspired by the Arab uprisings. His wife said authorities seized his computer and other property and refused to tell her where he was being held. The U.S. State Department condemned Ai’s arrest, and said it was “deeply concerned by the trend of forced disappearances, extra-legal detentions, arrests, and convictions of rights activists.”

Fukushima, Japan

Radioactive ocean: Japan’s nuclear utility dumped millions of gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean this week, in an area where radiation was already 7.5 million times the legal limit because of discharges of radioactive gas and water from the damaged nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it had to dump the water so it could store even more highly radioactive water that has been seeping into the turbine buildings and endangering workers struggling to keep fuel rods cool and plug leaks in the plants. Officials say the radiation is rapidly dissipating in the seawater and will not affect the safety of seafood. But fish caught nearby contained high levels of radioactive iodine and cesium, and fishermen across the country were furious. “Restaurants are losing customers, and the demand for fish is falling,” said Kosaka Tsutomu, director of Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.

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