Beirut – The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sending up to 30 unarmed monitors to Syria to help maintain what at best can be described as a fragile cease-fire.
The vote came as activists reported almost 20 deaths across Syria, including nine in the city of Homs, where videos uploaded to the Internet indicated that government forces had begun shelling once again.
The deaths come as the peace plan proposed by special envoy Kofi Annan appears increasingly in danger. Annan’s spokesman said Friday that the U.N. monitors were on standby, ready to board a plane once the resolution was approved.
The small team will be sent ahead of a larger group of possibly 250 monitors to ensure that Assad’s forces and rebel fighters abide by the terms of the cease-fire that aims to end the violence in the year-old uprising.
Hostess Brands says offer to labor its last
Dallas – The company that makes Twinkies, Wonder bread and Ding Dongs said Saturday it’s making a final offer to workers to accept cost-cutting before it asks a bankruptcy court to impose the cuts.
Hostess Brands Inc. wants the Teamsters and bakers’ unions to accept reduced pension benefits and changes in work rules to lower costs. It wants to outsource some delivery work.
The company said Saturday that if the unions reject the offer, it will push ahead with efforts in bankruptcy court to throw out the unions’ collective bargaining agreements. A union official warned that could lead to a strike.
Hostess Brands filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade. A trial to decide the fate of the union contracts is scheduled to start Tuesday.
Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters, said the union would reject the company’s proposal and make a counteroffer today.
Planes bomb town in Sudan border fight
Rubkona, South Sudan – Sudanese planes bombarded a disputed oil town near South Sudan’s border on Saturday, a southern military official said, and a doctor said bombs aimed at strategic sites in South Sudan’s Unity State killed five people.
Col. Philip Aguer said Saturday that villages near the disputed oil town of Heglig fell under heavy aerial bombardment and that he expected ground fighting to resume “anytime” soon.
Troops from South Sudan on Wednesday captured the oil-rich border town that is claimed by Sudan.
Aguer said southern forces did not plan to give up the town, which lies along the ill-defined border between the two Sudans.
“As we speak now, the SPLA is still in full control of Heglig,” Aguer said, using the acronym for the southern army.