World and Nation

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Sudan Arrests Militia Chief Facing Trial in the Hague

The Sudanese government has arrested one of the most wanted men in the country, a notorious janjaweed militia leader charged by an international court with orchestrating mass murder in Darfur, Sudanese officials disclosed on Monday.

The move is widely being interpreted as a way for Sudan to improve its image abroad and try to head off the possible genocide prosecution of the country’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in the International Criminal Court.

Human rights groups have said the militia leader, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman — also known as Ali Kushayb and the “colonel of colonels” — led attacks on civilians and ordered villages to be burned to the ground and the women in them raped.

In 2007, the International Criminal Court charged him with crimes against humanity and demanded that Sudan extradite him. Sudan refused, denying that he had done anything wrong and insisting that any criminals it did arrest would be handled in its own courts.

Czech Author Kundera Accused of Informing on Western Spy

In a revelation that could tarnish the legacy of one of the best-known Eastern European writers, a Czech research institute published a report on Monday indicating that the young Milan Kundera may have informed on a Western spy.

According to the state-backed Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, in 1950, long before he became famous for darkly comic novels like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The Joke,” Kundera, who was then 21, told the local police about a guest in a student dormitory where he lived.

The police quickly arrested the man, Miroslav Dvoracek, who had defected to Germany in 1948 and had been recruited by U.S.-backed anti-communists as a spy against the Czech regime. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Dvoracek narrowly escaped the death penalty, a common punishment for espionage, and eventually served a 14-year sentence, including hard labor in a uranium mine.

The allegations could diminish Kundera’s moral stature as a spokesman, however enigmatic, against totalitarianism’s corrosion of daily human life.

In a statement, the reclusive Kundera vehemently denied the account.

Commodity Prices Tumble in Financial Crisis

The global financial panic and the economic slowdown have put at least a temporary end to the commodity bull market of the last seven years, sending prices tumbling for many of the raw ingredients of the world economy.

Since the spring and early summer, when prices for many commodities peaked amid fears of permanent shortage, wheat and corn — two cereals at the base of the human food chain — have dropped more than 40 percent. Oil has dropped 44 percent. Important metals like aluminum, copper, nickel and platinum have declined by a third or more.

The swift turnaround is the brightest economic news on the horizon for consumers, putting money into their pockets at a time they need it badly. Gasoline prices in the United States are falling precipitously — by about 24 cents over the last five days, to a national average of $3.21 a gallon on Monday — and analysts say they could go below $3 a gallon this fall, down from a high of $4.11 a gallon in July.