Gaza settlement plans move ahead
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and settler leaders worked Tuesday to hammer out a compromise that would move thousands of Gaza settlers en masse to an area on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, even before the country’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer.
The tense and deeply emotional meeting was the first concrete sign that many settlers were willing to cooperate with the pullout and abandon threats of violent resistance.
“We understand that there is no choice. We are one people, we want to remain one people, so that’s why we met with the prime minister,” said Eliezer Yaakov, a representative of the Gan Or settlement, at the two-hour meeting.
The meeting ended with the two sides agreeing to convene again in 10 days for further talks.
Kyrgyzstan fails to consider presidency
Parliament adjourned Tuesday without considering the resignation of ousted President Askar Akayev because not enough lawmakers showed up, prolonging the ex-Soviet republic’s 2-week-old political crisis.
Parliament fell two lawmakers short of the 50-person quorum, leaving Akayev still technically in power and adding to the confusion that has gripped this Central Asian country since protesters stormed the president’s office March 24, forcing Akayev to flee to Russia.
Yushchenko receives JFK award for courage
Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko, the populist politician who survived dioxin poisoning while forcing out Ukraine’s pro-Russian government last year, was bestowed Tuesday with this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy praised Yushchenko’s personal courage and said he has inspired those struggling for democracy across the globe.
“At a critical moment in his nation’s history, he took a strong and courageous stand for what he knew was right. He risked his life, and nearly lost it, in the ongoing struggle for democracy in Ukraine,” Kennedy said.
Place your bets on royal wedding blunders
Want to bet on the next problem to befall Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles? A British bookmaker was offering odds Tuesday on a host of misfortunes, ranging from the heir to the throne being left at the altar to aliens landing.
The wedding has already been postponed to Saturday to allow the prince to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome on Friday.
“The royal wedding seems to be descending into a parody of itself, so we thought we’d allow punters to speculate on what may go wrong next,” said Graham Sharpe of William Hill bookmakers.
The odds are 33-1 that Parker Bowles will leave Charles standing alone at the Windsor Guildhall, scene of the civil ceremony. Odds for the prince doing the same are 40-1.
And it’s 25-1 that Charles’ son Prince William will lose the rings – a fear the young prince confessed to during a skiing trip last week.
The prospect of a last-minute ultimatum from the queen threatening to disinherit her son if the marriage goes ahead is set at 100-1.