Durban, South Africa
Gandhi’s ashes scattered: More than 60 years after his death, some of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes have been scattered off the coast of South Africa. As a young lawyer in 1893, Gandhi went to work among the Indian community in South Africa. Over the next 20 years, he worked there for human rights and developed his theories of nonviolent resistance. A family friend brought the ashes to South Africa for a ceremony last week. It’s not the first time Gandhi’s ashes have been redistributed: Some were immersed in the holy Ganges River in 1997, and others were scattered near Mumbai in 2007. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, a few years after his peaceful movement helped win India independence from Britain. His ashes are kept with his descendants in multiple locations.
Iran fires back, verbally: Iran lashed out this week at new American deployments of missile defenses in Arab countries. The U.S. military announced that it was strengthening missile-defense systems in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE so that it could shoot down any missiles Iran might launch. The U.S. also said it would send Navy ships with anti-missile capabilities to patrol the Mediterranean. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the deployment was meant to sow distrust between Arabs and Iran. “This puppet show by the U.S., while claiming to create security in the region, is nothing except a new political ploy to increase the military presence at the expense of others,” Larijani said.
North Waziristan, Pakistan
Taliban leader reported killed: In what would be a major blow to the Pakistani Taliban, Pakistan television reported this week that the militia’s leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, died from injuries he sustained in a CIA drone strike last month. The strike was one of many launched in retaliation for the suicide bombing of a CIA base in Afghanistan in late December, which killed seven CIA employees. Mehsud had claimed responsibility for ordering that attack. Drone strikes have killed at least 12 of a continually updated list of 20 top Taliban and al Qaida leaders. Just six months ago, Mehsud’s predecessor was killed in a similar strike. There was no official confirmation of Mehsud’s death, which the Taliban denied. But a Pakistani official and a senior U.S. official said they were almost certain he was dead.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Politician charged with sodomy: Malaysia’s charismatic opposition leader is facing sodomy charges for the second time in his career. Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy—or homosexual sex, which is illegal in Malaysia—in 1998, in what was widely seen as a show trial orchestrated by then–Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The conviction was overturned in 2004. In the meantime, Anwar’s wife won his seat in parliament. In 2008, when Anwar became eligible to run again, she stepped down and he took the seat—only to face another sodomy charge, which analysts consider as politically motivated as the first. As the trial opened this week, Anwar said he intended to call Prime Minister Najib Razak as a hostile witness, saying Razak had put his accuser up to the phony charge.
Tainted milk still out there: China began a frantic inspection of dairy products this week after discovering that some of the tainted powdered milk recalled in 2008 was still on the market. The milk was laced with melamine, an industrial chemical that makes the milk test higher for protein content but can cause kidney problems. At least six children died and 300,000 were sickened in the 2008 scare. All the tainted milk was ordered destroyed. But Health Minister Chen Zhu said that “unscrupulous” companies have taken the recalled products and repackaged them for use in ice cream and condensed milk.
Police complain of corruption: Members of Russia’s most elite and feared police force, OMON riot police, have issued an unprecedented complaint about corruption in their ranks. Officers said they were forced to arrest innocent people because of orders to make at least three detentions per shift. They said they routinely waste time rounding up homeless people and charging them with jaywalking just to fill the quotas. Some officers, they said, work second jobs as bodyguards for gangsters, splitting their earnings with their superiors. The officers took their complaint to the press after receiving no answer to a letter they’d sent to President Dmitri Medvedev.