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Fiji Dictator Defies Calls for Democracy

Commodore flouts deadline, says he needs another 5 years

(Newser) - The military leader of Fiji, where a coup overthrew the elected government in 2006, defied international demands for a restoration of democracy. Frank Bainimarama had been given a deadline of today to announce an election date, but the commodore said that he would not allow a return to democracy for...

North Korea to Try Detained US Journalists

TV reporters will be charged with illegal entry: Pyongyang

(Newser) - North Korea's state-run news agency says two American reporters detained earlier this month will be tried for illegal entry and "hostile acts." The Korean Central News Agency said in a report today that an initial investigation confirmed suspicions about the two women and preparations for indictments and trial...

North Koreans Eat Pizza—After 10 Years' Wait

Kim Jong-Il wanted perfect recipe before authorizing restaurant

(Newser) - Millions of North Koreans suffer from undernourishment, but in Pyongyang, the ruling elite have a new dining option: the country's first pizzeria. It opened last December, more than a decade after Kim Jong-Il, reportedly a serious gourmand, brought a stable of Italian pizza chefs to teach army officers how to...

Mugabe Hosts $250K Party in Starving Zimbabwe

Cholera, hyperinflation, land grabs... Let's dance!

(Newser) - More than half of his country is starving, just 10% have jobs, and nearly 4,000 have died of cholera since August, but none of that has stopped Robert Mugabe from partying. Zimbabwe’s president spent $250,000 on his 85th birthday bash today, which included a 187-pound cake, the...

Donations Dry Up for Mugabe's 85th Birthday Bash

Unity government reduces Zanu-PF's ability to intimidate

(Newser) - Celebrations are underway in Zimbabwe this week to honor President Robert Mugabe’s 85th birthday, but the country's economic crisis, cholera epidemic, and shifting balance of power have dried up donations for the usually over-the-top festivities, the Times of London reports. Officials of his Zanu-PF party aimed to raise $300,...

Mugabe's Police to Hold Opposition Pol for 2nd Day

Prosecutors fail to show up to present charges against ministerial nominee

(Newser) - In another blow to Zimbabwe's fledgling unity government, police moved to hold a prominent opposition politician in jail for second day, the BBC reports. Roy Bennett will most likely spend the night in jail after prosecutors failed to come to court today to present insurgency and terrorism charges against the...

For Chavez, the End Is Near
 For Chavez, the End Is Near 

For Chavez, the End Is Near

Referendum will keep him in power, but Venezuelan economy makes it 'irrelevant'

(Newser) - Hugo Chavez has a slight lead in tomorrow’s referendum that would allow him to extend his rule in Venezuela, but the realities of the country’s economy make the issue “mostly irrelevant,” Edward Schumacher-Matos writes in the Washington Post. No matter the outcome, his days are numbered....

UK Protester Lobs Shoe at China's Wen

Protester calls premier a 'dictator' during speech at Cambridge

(Newser) - A protester threw a shoe at China’s premier while he was giving a speech at Cambridge University in England today, the BBC reports. The young man shouted “how can the university prostrate itself with this dictator—how can you listen to the lies he’s telling?" before hurling...

Kim Jong-Il Names Youngest Son as Successor: Reports

Swiss-educated Jong-Un, about 25, said to be thoughtful, intelligent

(Newser) - Kim Jong-Il has picked his third—and, at about 25, thought to be his youngest—son, Jong-Un, as his successor in North Korea, Reuters reports. Though it has yet to be confirmed, officials said they have been instructed to spread the message, possibly to quell anxiety over who would lead...

Hey Sean, Put Down Your Pen
 Hey Sean, 
 Put Down 
 Your Pen 


Hey Sean, Put Down Your Pen

Adoration of Cuban dictator is misguided, dangerous

(Newser) - Sean Penn may be “the finest character actor around,” but he's “no journalist,” writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times. Penn’s recent “fawning tributes” to Cuban president Raúl Castro show the actor has “delusional, dangerous” beliefs about the dictator—a fact...

Cubans Mark 50 Years of Fidel
Cubans Mark
50 Years of Fidel

Cubans Mark 50 Years of Fidel

Celebrations sobered after tough year for Cuba

(Newser) - New Year's Day marks a sober occasion for Cuban-Americans: Fidel Castro's takeover 50 years ago and the exile and family separations that ensued. Many Cubans once hoped the dictator would bring them prosperity. Today, with their beloved island in decay and many lives lost in attempts to flee, few of...

Brother-in-Law Pilots N. Korea for Ailing Kim

Head of secret police fills in as dictator heals from stroke: analysts

(Newser) - Kim Jong-Il’s brother-in-law is running North Korea as the dictator recovers from a stroke, experts tell the Times of London. South Korean analysts say that while Kim is conscious and probably mobile, he remains weak. But Pyongyang appears to be functioning normally in the hands of Chang Sung Taek,...

Son Appears to Fetch Brain Doc for Kim

North Korean leader's eldest son seen soliciting surgeon in Paris

(Newser) - Adding to the evidence that Kim Jong-Il is in grave health, the North Korean leader’s eldest son was filmed while apparently securing the services of a brain surgeon in Paris, the Times of London reports today. Fuji TV also showed clips of an unnamed surgeon being driven in a...

Kim's Death Unlikely to Breed Chaos
 Kim's Death Unlikely 
 to Breed Chaos 

Kim's Death Unlikely to Breed Chaos

Doomsday scenarios for North Korean succession farfetched

(Newser) - With Kim Jong Il conspicuously out of the public eye in recent months, some speculate that his death could shatter the North Korean government and precipitate humanitarian and possibly military crises. But the reality of succession, Philip Bowring writes in the International Herald Tribune, is likely to be far more...

Boston Scholar a Catalyst for Global Dissent

His writings have inspired revolutionaries in Zimbabwe, Burma

(Newser) - Most Americans have never heard of him, but the writings of an aging US academic by the name of Gene Sharp have played a key role in nonviolent resistance to government the world over. Sharp, 80, has been slammed by leaders from Iran to Venezuela for his ideas, which have...

Power-Sharing Talks Stall in Zimbabwe

Mugabe will grant PM role but no power, opposition says

(Newser) - Zimbabwe’s rival parties stopped talks today without progress on forging a unified government, BBC reports. President Robert Mugabe offered to make opposition leader Morgan Tsvanigrai prime minister without any authority. Tsvanigrai wants Mugabe to stay president but cede executive power. “Nothing was achieved in the latest round,"...

Mugabe Heckled by Parliament
 Mugabe Heckled by Parliament

Mugabe Heckled by Parliament

MDC MPs tired of deferring to embattled president

(Newser) - Members of the Movement for Democratic Change heckled President Robert Mugabe today as he addressed the parliament, the Times of London reports. Having defied him by electing an MDC speaker instead of one from his own Zanu-PF, the MDC representatives chanted “Zanu is rotten” throughout Mugabe’s address. “...

Burma Relief Effort Belies Need
 Burma Relief Effort Belies Need 

Burma Relief Effort Belies Need

Junta props up success stories but ignores thousands out of spotlight

(Newser) - Burma's junta would have one believe it's got the situation under control in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, and even has a test-case diorama as evidence for foreign envoys, the Times of London reports. Sinkan refugee camp hosts 180 well-fed, healthy inhabitants in clean blue tents—while 10 minutes down...

World Toes Junta's Line as Burmese Die
 World Toes Junta's Line
 as Burmese Die 

World Toes Junta's Line as Burmese Die

Dictators don't want you to think about the victims, and media is helping

(Newser) - The leaders of the Burmese junta don’t want you to think about the victims of Cyclone Nargis, writes Tom Jenkins for the Guardian, and the world and the media are only too happy to oblige. The Chinese government’s heroics in Asia's other natural disaster focuses attention on victims...

133K Dead, Missing: Junta
 133K Dead, Missing: Junta 

133K Dead, Missing: Junta

Military admits full impact of storm

(Newser) - Nearly 78,000 are confirmed dead and another 56,000 missing in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, Reuters reports. Torrential rains continued to pound Burma today, complicating rescue efforts. The EU’s chief aid official met with military leaders to press for increasing foreign rescue workers' involvement, but he met...

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