North Korea ratcheted tensions with its negotiating partners higher still Thursday, putting its entire Yongbyon nuclear complex off limits to UN monitors and threatening war "at any moment" if rival South Korea sent naval vessels across their sea boundary. Citing spy satellite data, South Korean news outlets reported that the North also has positioned 10 more short-range missiles for an imminent test-firing. Two such missiles are believed to have been launched earlier this week into the Yellow Sea. In Washington, the Bush administration called the Yongbyon order "regrettable."
A popular ginseng extract taken to improve blood flow was banned Thursday by Chinese health authorities in yet another blot on the nation's food-safety record. Officials said three people died earlier this week from using the product and three others became seriously ill. The extract can be taken in tea, in capsule form, or by injection. At the same time, the Health Ministry said 10,666 infants remain hospitalized weeks after drinking formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.
A day after giving Ukraine's feuding political leaders more time to form a new coalition government, President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved parliament, forcing the third national election in three years. The vote was scheduled for Dec. 7. The pro-Western president's former ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, vowed to challenge the move in court, and some members of the legislature said they'd refuse to pass the bills necessary to organize the new election.
Tamil rebels were blamed for an attack Thursday on a motorcade in which Sri Lanka's agriculture minister was riding, the second such incident this week. The official escaped injury in a suburb of the capital, Colombo, but a woman bomber died and five other people were hurt. On Monday, a retired Army general, his wife, and 25 others died and at least 80 people were hurt when an attacker detonated an explosive vest.
Novelist Jean-Marie Gustave LeClezio of France was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature Thursday. LeClezio, said the Royal Swedish Academy, stands out as "an ecologically engaged author [and an] explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." The prize has gone to European writers in five of the past seven years.
Military chief Frank Bainimarama of Fiji was absolved of guilt for toppling the nation's elected civilian government two years ago and installing his own. The High Court rejected the challenge of ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase that the coup was unconstitutional, ruling that it was "reasonably necessary in the interest of peace, order, and good government."
A runoff election for president of the Maldives will be necessary, reports said, after perhaps the heaviest voter turnout in the island nation's history. With ballot-counting from Wednesday's voting complete, incumbent Mamoun Abdul Gayoom led his five challengers but with 41 percent of the vote, well short of a majority. His closest rival, Mohamed Nasheed, had 26 percent. A runoff must be held within 10 days. The election was the first time in Gayoom's 30-year rule that he was opposed.
Qantas, the Australian airline, said it will refund the fares of all 303 passengers aboard a flight that nose-dived more than 1,000 feet without warning earlier this week. Forty people were hospitalized with injuries, some of them serious, and the carrier also plans to help pay for their treatment, a spokesman said. The incident was the fourth major blemish on Qantas's safety record since July 25, when an oxygen tank exploded aboard a flight, opening a hole in the fuselage and forcing an emergency landing.