In an angry outburst, Saddam Hussein berated the judge in his war-crimes trial, but declared as it was recessed again that he is "not afraid of execution" if found guilty. The case against the former Iraqi dictator will resume Wednesday, the court ruled. Hussein also demanded that the first witness for the prosecution not interrupt him and that he be subjected to an examination by "an independent medical institution."
Leftist President Hugo Chávez can rely on unanimous support in Venezuela's new National Assembly, his political party said, claiming that it and its allies won all 167 seats in the national election Sunday. If certified as correct, the result would mean that Chávez - without even token opposition - can amend the Constitution to scrap its two-term limit on power and introduce other measures that opponents say would make Venezuela more authoritarian. The elections council put the turnout at the polls at 25 percent of registered voters, as most opposition parties and their supporters boycotted.
In twin crackdowns after the latest disasters in China, police arrested the owner of a coal mine that flooded Sunday, trapping 42 men underground, and the manager of the plant that spilled toxic benzene into the Songhua River last month was relieved of his duties. The latter was the second senior official to lose his job over the Nov. 13 accident that killed five people and sent a plume of contamination into the river that scientists say will leave residues until the spring thaw. Earlier, the director of China's environmental protection bureau resigned. Reports did not say how police found the mine owner, who'd gone into hiding with two aides after Monday's accident. The fate of the trapped workers is not yet known.
Voting in last Sunday's presidential election in oil-rich Kazakh-stan failed to meet democratic standards, international monitors said, as incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev was credited with a landslide victory. The elections commission announced that he won 91 percent of the vote over challenger Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, who claimed massive fraud and called for the results to be invalidated. Nazar-bayev, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1987, will serve another seven-year term. In a written report, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe cited "harassment, intimidation, and deten- tions of campaign staff and supporters of opposition candidates, including ... beatings."
Without identifying the US or any other government, a senior general in the ruling junta of Burma (Myanmar) complained at the reopening of his nation's constitutional convention that "subversionists" were trying to derail a phased return to democracy there. The convention is intended to be the first in a seven-step process to bring back "a genuine, disciplined, and flourishing democratic state." But critics claim it won't produce a final draft and is being stage-managed by the junta to prolong its grip on power. The US has been in the forefront of criticism of the junta and did not send a representative to the convention. The junta confirmed Sunday that six more months of house arrest have been ordered for Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the pro-democracy movement.
The number of deaths rose to 14 in the collapse of a concrete and steel roof over an indoor swimming pool in the Ural Mountains town of Chusovoi, Russia. Eleven others were hospitalized with injuries. All the casualties were children or their mothers seeking a respite from the bitter cold outside. Authorities were investigating the cause of the collapse, which happened without warning, although one official was quoted as saying the quality of the materials in the roof was "very poor."