Attacks in 8 Iraq cities kill 46 ahead of summit
BAGHDAD — A torrent of bombings and shootings ripped across eight Iraqi cities on Tuesday, targeting police and Shiite pilgrims and killing 46 people. The deadly wave undermined the government's hopes for stability ahead of next week's meeting of the Arab world's top leaders.
The Iraqi wing of al-Qaida said it was behind at least one of the attacks near Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone. A statement on a militant website said the group targeted the office that will oversee security for the upcoming Arab League summit — the first time the meeting is set to be held in Baghdad in more than a generation.
Authorities have feared al-Qaida or its Sunni sympathizers would try to thwart this year's Arab League summit.
In all, eight cities were hit Tuesday in what appeared to be coordinated attacks against police and government officials. More than 200 people were wounded in a gloomy reminder of the violence that has sown chaos across Iraq since the U.S. invasion exactly nine years ago.
Dutch author wins 2012 Astrid Lindgren award
STOCKHOLM — Dutch writer Guus Kuijer has been named this year's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature, honored for his ability to portray life's big problems with humor and warmth, the prize jury said Tuesday.
Kuijer, 69, has written more than 30 books since making his debut in 1975, releasing works such as "The Book of Everything" and "Florian Knol" — mainly directed at adolescents entering their teen years.
"Respect for children is as self-evident in his works as his rejection of intolerance and oppression. Kuijer combines serious subject matter and razor-sharp realism with warmth, subtle humor and visionary flights of fancy," the jury said in its citation, noting that he consistently conveys a message of "tolerance, understanding and broad-mindedness" through his works.
Kuijer will receive the award at a ceremony in Stockholm on May 28.
Dutch museum: Still life confirmed as Vincent van Gogh work
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — It was, it wasn't, it is: A still life once thought to be by Vincent van Gogh but later downgraded to being the work of an anonymous artist is indeed by the tormented Dutch impressionist himself, researchers announced Tuesday.
The process leading to the confirmation of the painting's authenticity reads like a cold case detective story. A new X-ray technique helped experts re-examine what they already knew about "Still life with meadow flowers and roses" and draw on a growing pool of scholarly Van Gogh research.
A detailed X-ray of an underlying painting of two wrestlers and knowledge of the painter's period at a Belgian art academy led a team of researchers to conclude that the painting really is by Van Gogh.
Kuwait says Iran vows not to shut Strait of Hormuz
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Kuwait's ruler said Iran has assured its Gulf neighbors that it will not block the vital Strait of Hormuz.
A fifth of the world's oil supplies pass through the strait at the edge of the Gulf. Iran has threatened to close the strait in retaliation for Western-led efforts to thwart its nuclear program.
Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, was quoted by the official news agency Tuesday as saying Kuwait and other Arab Gulf countries contacted officials in Iran to ensure the vital waterway is not closed.
"We have received assurances from Iran that it will not take this step," he said.
UK's Queen Elizabeth II pledges to continue ruling
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II publicly renewed her pledge to the British nation Tuesday, praising the continuity of her country's national narrative in a speech to mark the 60th anniversary of her remarkably long reign.
"We are reminded here of our past, of the continuity of our national story and the virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance which created it," she told the gathering. "I have been privileged to witness some of that history and, with the support of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come."
The queen's speech is part of a year of celebrations to mark her Diamond Jubilee, which celebrates the six decades since she ascended to the throne in 1952.
The main celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee weekend will be held from June 2 to 5.