Cyclone Nargis caused far more deaths in Burma (Myanmar) than first thought, state radio said, raising the number from 351 to at least 3,939. Almost 2,900 other people are unaccounted for in one town alone, it said. UN relief officials warned that hundreds of thousands of Burmese need shelter and clean drinking water "immediately," but the ruling junta so far has issued no public appeal for help. It did say it would go ahead with Saturday's referendum on the proposed new constitution, angering critics.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has decided whether to compete in a runoff election for the presidency of Zimbabwe, but will not make his choice public until a date for the new vote is announced, aides said Monday. The election commission said late last week that a runoff is necessary because neither Tsvangirai nor incumbent Robert Mugabe won a majority of votes in the March 29 contest. Tsvangirai has claimed outright victory, and his Movement for Democratic Change initially rejected participation in a runoff.
The world's No. 1 importer of rice canceled a 675,000-ton order Monday, saying it could afford to wait until nearer the end of the year when prices are "softer" to return to the market. Some analysts said the move by the Philippines appeared to signal that prices have peaked and that panic buying need not continue. Others, however, said the order was canceled because it had attracted only one unqualified bidder. Above, farmers plant rice seedlings at an agricultural institute south of Manila.
Protests against spiraling food prices turned violent in Somalia's capital Monday, as government troops fired into the ranks of thousands of people, killing at least two. An uncounted number of others were hurt, reports said. Rioters smashed car, bus, and store windows after word spread that sellers were refusing to accept old currency, since new bank notes have been issued amid rising inflation. Cornmeal and rice both have doubled in price in Mogadishu since January.
Another meeting was agreed to by representatives of the Dalai Lama and China's Communist Party as they ended their first round of closed-door talks Monday. But the latter said the Buddhist spiritual leader's envoys must tell him that the March protests in Tibet had presented new obstacles to communication.
Holding his final cabinet meeting as president of Russia, Vladimir Putin shrugged off criticism of plans to feature its heaviest weaponry in Friday's Victory Day parade in Moscow. "This is not saber-rattling; we threaten no one," he said. Such displays have been absent for the past 17 years. But the parade comes amid heightened tensions with the pro-Western republic of Georgia, although it also coincides with the inauguration of Putin's successor, Dmitri Medvedev.
Organized crime hit men were believed responsible for attacks on two groups of cattle ranchers in Mexico's Guerrero State over the weekend that killed at least 16 people. Witnesses said the gunmen wore police uniforms. But the firepower used – assault rifles – suggested they were connected to a wave of drug-gang violence in the state. Both attacks missed the cattlemen's association chief, who may have been the intended target, police said.
"It will be positive in the end," a Vatican source said Monday as word surfaced that the China Philharmonic Orchestra will perform for Pope Benedict XVI later this week. The orchestra is on a tour of Europe, and the concert will be held in Rome at the behest of Chinese diplomats. Benedict took office with the goal of improving relations with the communist giant. The Vatican has taken stern exception to China's policy of appointing bishops without papal approval. For its part, China wants the church to end diplomatic ties with Taiwan.