Saddam Hussein refused to enter a plea at the start of his second trial in Baghdad Monday, summoning up the defiance that had been in evidence when his first trial began last year. The ex-dictator dismissed the tribunal as "a court of occupation" and, when asked to identify himself, told the presiding judge, "You know my name." A not-guilty plea was entered in his behalf. Hussein and six former Army generals are accused of genocide in the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Kurds – using nerve agents and mustard gas in a campaign known as Operation Anfal. Hussein still awaits the verdict in his first trial for retaliation after a 1982 assassination attempt. A third trial is expected to deal with the notorious 1988 poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja.
With a shaky cease-fire in place, Israel's leader rejected an appeal by members of his own cabinet to reopen peace talks with Syria. On a visit to an Arab town that had been struck by Syrian-supplied Hizbullah rockets, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the government in Damascus is "not a partner" for peace. Since the start of the cease-fire, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that future Arab generations could succeed with force where negotiations have failed – to win back the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
The executions of three Islamic radicals were postponed until further notice by Indonesian authorities Monday to allow for a final appeal of their convictions in the 2002 Bali bombings. Their sentences were to be carried out by a firing squad Tuesday. The attack for which they were found guilty targeted nightclubs favored by foreign tourists and killed 202 people. Previously, the defendants had said they wanted to be put to death as martyrs for their cause. Their group, Jemaah Islamiah, is believed to have ties to Al Qaeda.
A new cabinet was appointed Monday by the prime minister of Somalia's weak transitional government in a move seen as aimed at facilitating dialogue with the rival Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Ali Mohamad Ghedi's new administration will have 31 ministers as opposed to more than 100 in the previous group. President Abdullahi Yusuf fired the entire cabinet Aug. 7 after 40 of its members quit over Ghedi's approach to the UIC. Meanwhile, neighboring Ethiopia denied reports that any of its troops had gone to Baidoa, the transitional government's base, to help defend against the UIC's fighters.
With a new school year beginning Monday, supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to move aside so that traffic on the capital's main avenue could pass their three-week-old tent camp at various points. But Mayor-elect Marcelo Ebard said "the struggle to defend the victory" of Obrador "will continue in the rest of the camps" on the Paseo de la Reforma and in the Zocalo, the main square. The campers are backing Obrador's demand for a full recount of the 41 million ballots in the July 2 election, which he appears to have lost narrowly. Obrador has encouraged such "civil resistance," and in an interview with The Financial Times he said he'd call for it to be escalated "to its ultimate consequences," adding "Mexico needs a revolution."
The casualty count was mounting by the hour in Egypt after a commuter train slammed into another that had stopped Monday north of Cairo. Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV channel, put the number of dead at 65 and said 163 others were hurt. Egypt's MENA news agency reported 51 dead. The accident was the nation's worst since 370 people died on a train that caught fire in 2002. MENA said the operator of the moving train apparently ignored a stop signal.
Confusion reigned as to the cause of a powerful explosion that collapsed a two-story market arcade in Moscow Monday, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens of others. Some authorities said it involved a faulty gas canister and did not appear to be a terrorist act. But the deputy mayor attributed it to a homemade bomb and suggested that it "most likely was a ... settling of scores" by a criminal gang or rival business. The market attracts traders from ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia and from China. Chechen rebels have exploded bombs in Mos-cow markets, but the most recent was more than a year ago.