The World

10 ESSENTIAL STORIES

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1 | Cambodia

Ancient Temple, New Battle

An uneasy lull settled over Preah Vihear, an 11th century Hindu temple on the Thai-Cambodian border, after four days of fighting between troops on both sides led to six reported deaths and dozens of injuries to soldiers as well as civilians caught in the cross fire. A 1962 U.N. ruling determined that the long-disputed temple complex sits on Cambodian soil, but the decision still rankles some Thai nationalists, who tend to exploit popular resentment over the UNESCO World Heritage site when waging their own political battles in Bangkok. It's not yet clear what sparked the current clashes--this militarized patch of jungle has seen its fair share of violence in recent years--but the confrontation has accentuated hostilities on either side of the border, with few signs pointing toward peace.

2 | Tunisia

Ruling Party Shut Down

Tunisia's interim government paved the way for the eventual dissolution of the political party that had held a viselike grip on the nation until Jan. 14, when a popular uprising chased President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali into exile. The offices of Ben Ali's party, the Democratic Constitutional Rally, were shuttered and its members barred from meeting. While events in Tunisia have inspired similar revolts against authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region (like Egypt), protests and clashes with police continue. Many remain wary of the interim government, which, though promising reform and open elections, has prominent figures from the old regime in its ranks.

3 | Pakistan

Not So Innocent Abroad

Raymond Davis, an American diplomat employed by the U.S. consulate in Lahore, was at the center of a political storm after killing--in self-defense, he says--two Pakistanis he claims were armed and pursuing him on motorbikes. Among a multitude of murky reports, some suggest the two men were intelligence agents monitoring Davis, whose activities Washington has yet to clarify. The Obama Administration insists Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity, but he remains behind bars in Lahore, having become the target of long-standing Pakistani frustrations over CIA drone attacks and other U.S. operations in the region that have killed civilians.

4 | Italy

Sex Scandal May Go to Trial

Prosecutors in Milan announced they would seek to immediately take Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to trial on charges of criminal prostitution and abuse of office. Berlusconi, 74, is accused of paying for sex in 2010 with a then minor, Karima El Mahroug (left), and using his office to cover up the deed. While Berlusconi, who denies any wrongdoing, has lost some political support, his party maintains a slim parliamentary majority.

5 | China

Drought Hits Wheat Crop

A punishing drought in China prompted the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization to issue a special alert about the threat to the country's winter wheat crop. China, the world's biggest wheat producer, may have to rely more heavily on imports this year, further stoking global food prices. On Feb. 8, wheat futures hit 30-month highs, a level that signals even higher global food costs, which the FAO said last month were at a historic peak.

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