Cuba: Food production pushed
HAVANA (AP) Cuba says it will speed up plans to give private farmers and cooperatives idle plots of government land as it rushes to produce food after a pair of hurricanes ravaged island crops.
The Agriculture Ministry said Monday in a statement that it will begin accepting applications for the government land beginning Wednesday. The measure was announced in July, but the start date was not given at the time.
The government was already trying to revive flagging food production when Hurricanes Ike and Gustav struck this month.
Since taking over from his brother Fidel, Raul Castro has opened more unused state land to private farmers, legalized cell phones for ordinary citizens and allowed some workers to seek legal title to their homes.
England: 'Floyd' member dies
LONDON (AP) Richard Wright, a founding member of the rock group Pink Floyd, died Monday. He was 65.
Pink Floyd's spokesman Doug Wright, who is not related to the artist, said Wright died after a battle with cancer at his home in Britain. He said the band member's family did not want to give more details about his death.
Wright met Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason in college and joined their early band, Sigma 6. Along with the late Syd Barrett, the four formed Pink Floyd in 1965. The group's jazz-infused rock and drug-laced multimedia "happenings" made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and their 1967 album, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," was a hit.
Honduras: Zelaya blames elite
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) Honduras' president on Monday blamed his country's poverty on its business elite and defended his decision to delay accreditation of the new U.S. ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia's leftist leader.
President Manuel Zelaya, who recently brought Honduras into a leftist trade alliance promoted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, used a speech commemorating Central America's independence from Spain to criticize the nation's business class. "Business leaders and the local, corrupt oligarchy are responsible for the country's backwardness for the past two centuries, because they have promoted an unjust, neoliberal economic system," Zelaya said.
Zelaya said the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a trade bloc advertised as a socialist alternative to U.S.-backed pacts, will mark Honduras' "true independence." Throngs of Hondurans booed Zelaya after he made the speech.
Pakistan: Suspect's son freed
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) The 12-year-old son of a woman suspected of links to al-Qaida and facing charges in New York was freed Monday by Afghanistan and sent to his family in Pakistan, two months after he was detained with his mother.
Officials say the boy, Ali Hassan, and his mother, Aafia Siddiqui, were detained outside the governor's house in Afghanistan's Ghazni province in July. The American-educated Pakistani woman was then handed over to U.S. custody and flown to New York where she was accused of trying to kill U.S. personnel.
Afghan authorities handed him over to Pakistani diplomats, who flew him to Islamabad on Monday evening. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said he had been handed over to relatives of his mother.
Sudan: Genocide charges urged
Holocaust scholars appealed Monday to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in Amsterdam to pursue his indictment of Sudan's president on charges of genocide in Darfur.
The 130 scholars signed a letter to chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo urging him to resist pressure to drop the case against Omar al-Bashir. They warned against putting politics ahead of justice, and said al-Bashir's prosecution would "deter future atrocities."
Phone calls to officials in the Sudanese capital Khartoum went unanswered Monday evening, probably because of the traditional iftar evening meal to break the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Al-Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to face genocide charges, has in the past dismissed the ICC prosecutor's allegations against him as politically motivated and aimed at destabilizing his government.
The appeal from the scholars came as Moreno-Ocampo published an expanded version of his charges against al-Bashir, accusing him of employing all the tools of state in an attempt to eliminate three rebellious tribes in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
Up to 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million chased from their homes since the conflict in Darfur began in early 2003.
Thailand: Protesters sit tight
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) Protesters occupying the grounds of the prime minister's compound plan to truck in sand to cover up the rain-fed muck they've been living in for weeks, but there's no such easy solution to the political mess they've created in Thailand.
While demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy were putting up scaffolding Monday to help to shelter themselves, their opponents from the ruling People's Power Party were tearing themselves apart. Dissident factions threatened not to support a consensus choice to become the next prime minister, although the party's executives earlier chose acting Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, 61, to be their candidate when Parliament meets Wednesday. A dissolution of Parliament to hold new elections is an option.
The previous prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, was forced from office last week when a court ruled he broke the law by accepting money to host a TV cooking show after he took office.