By Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Creating the state of California took a revolt that led to the short-lived Bear Republic, a war with Mexico, and various international treaties. Tuesday, voters in Del Norte and Tehama Counties will consider a measure calling for separation from California and the formation of a new state. Supporters are hoping to generate momentum for pulling together portions of northern California and southern Oregon into an entity to be called Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson once imagined that part of western North America might develop into a freestanding republic.
Rocket fire from Gaza and Syria hit Israel early Monday in two separate incidents that prompted the Israeli military to hit back, just hours before the swearing in of a new Palestinian government. The exchanges of fire took place as Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to unveil a new government pieced together as part of a surprise April reconciliation agreement between leaders in the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, that has been fiercely opposed by Israel. Early on Monday, Israeli warplanes staged two bombing raids on targets in central and southern Gaza following rocket fire on southern Israel, a spokesman said.
Hyderabad (India) (AFP) - Celebrations erupted in southern India to mark the creation of the new state of Telangana on Monday at the culmination of a separatist campaign stretching back nearly six decades. Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, who at one stage went on hunger strike as part of the push to create what is India's 29th state, was sworn in as chief minister during a morning ceremony in Hyderabad. India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate Rao, promising his "complete support to the people and Government of Telangana" in a message on Twitter.
Bolechowo (Poland) (AFP) - In a sprawling production hall in western Poland, workers hastily put the finishing touches to buses that will soon roll off the assembly line and hit the streets of Oslo, Rome or Dubai. As Poland this week marks 25 years since its first dose of democracy heralded the end of communism, the global footprint of firms like bus-maker Solaris are symbolic of a country that is light years away from old stereotypes of rickety horses-drawn carts in the Polish countryside. Poland held on June 4, 1989, its first semi-democratic elections in which some of the parliamentary seats were contested, triggering the peaceful demise of communist rule and opening the door to a new Central European heavyweight. "We started with about 30 workers and today we employ 2,500 people in Poland and 500 abroad," Solaris spokesman Mateusz Figaszewski told AFP.
Brasília (AFP) - Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by US authorities and currently living in Russia, said in a TV interview that he has applied for asylum in Brazil. "I would love to live in Brazil," Snowden told Brazil's Globo TV on Sunday. Snowden's temporary asylum in Russia expires in August. Snowden, who was interviewed with reporter Glenn Greenwald by his side, said that he has formally asked several countries for asylum, including Brazil.
The dramatic deal to free soldier Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for Taliban prisoners ignited criticism after the insurgents' leader declared a "big victory", but also raised hopes for peace as the US prepares to leave Afghanistan. Washington has defended the swap as critical to saving Bergdahl's life, as his health had deteriorated sharply after five years spent as the only US soldier held captive by the Taliban since the war began in 2001. And Afghanistan's foreign ministry branded the deal -- brokered by Qatar where the five will remain for a year -- as illegal, saying it contravened international law which prohibits handing over prisoners to a third country. Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, issued a rare statement praising the release of the Guantanamo five as a "big victory", and congratulating "all the mujahideen".