The world at a glance . . . International
BaghdadShoe thrower released: The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush was released from prison this week and said he had been tortured in jail. Muntazer al-Zaidi was jailed after he shouted, “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and hurled both shoes during a Bush press conference in December. The unrepentant al-Zaidi said that he had been subjected to beatings, electric shocks, and waterboarding during his nine months in custody. But better times are ahead: Al-Zaidi is reportedly fielding job offers from Arab satellite news stations. He’s also received offers from around the Arab world of houses and sports cars, as well as proposals of marriage.
Aceh, IndonesiaStoning adulterers to death: Muslim hard-liners on their way out of office passed draconian religious laws in the semi-autonomous Indonesian province of Aceh this week, including provisions to stone adulterers to death and to flog unmarried people who have sex. The new laws are the harshest to be adopted since 2001, when the Indonesian government allowed Aceh to replace the federal criminal code with sharia and the legislature introduced caning for women caught without head scarves. Human-rights activists hope the laws will soon be overturned. Conservative Muslim parties were trounced in recent elections, and a new Aceh legislature dominated by a moderate party will take power in two weeks.
GazaScene of war crimes: A U.N. fact-finding mission has discovered that both the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups “committed actions amounting to war crimes” during the three-week war in Gaza last January. In a 574-page report, the four-member group said most of the violations were Israeli, including the willful destruction of farms, the shelling of hospitals, and an attack on a mosque during Friday prayers. Palestinian violations included firing rockets at Israeli towns. The conflict killed some 1,300 Palestinians, including several hundred civilians, as well as 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians. Israel rejected the report as “one-sided” while Hamas praised the findings against Israel but denied the charges against Palestinians.
Barawe, SomaliaU.S. kills al Qaida operative: A U.S. special forces raid in Somalia this week killed an al Qaida militant suspected of involvement in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, in which hundreds of people were killed. U.S. helicopters flew from a nearby Navy ship to the Barawe district and opened fire on a car carrying Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan-born militant believed to be a liaison between al Qaida and the affiliated Somali Islamist group al-Shabab. “It will certainly make al-Shabab leaders much more cautious when they are operating because obviously the United States has very precise intelligence about their movements,” said Ernst Jan Hogendoorn of the International Crisis Group. Last year, U.S. warplanes killed Aden Hashi Ayro, at the time the leader of al-Shabab, in a similar targeted raid.
Kogelo, KenyaObama’s relatives seek cash: Kenyan relatives of Barack Obama are still hoping the U.S. leader will send millions in foreign aid to their little village, The Boston Globe reported this week. It’s traditional in Kenya for those who succeed in business or politics to send money to the folks back home. After Obama’s inauguration, the village where Obama’s father was raised expected an influx of millions, but villagers say they soon realized that U.S. political traditions are different. So now, some Obama family members have formed foundations and are applying for education and infrastructure grants from USAID. The White House said that Obama has directed all aid requests to the proper channels, which is “consistent with his message of good governance” in Africa.