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Michigan Governor Will Hold Proceedings on Kilpatrick

In a blow to Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick’s tenuous grip on his job, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan announced on Tuesday that she will hold proceedings next week that could result in the Detroit mayor’s removal.

Kilpatrick, who stands accused of 10 felony counts in two separate criminal cases, will have to defend himself before Granholm, who under state law is authorized to convene the proceedings.

The Detroit City Council, which has no authority to remove Kilpatrick from office, had asked Granholm to take up the matter after having unsuccessfully urged the mayor to resign.

The proceedings — and whether they would happen at all — have been the subject of speculation for weeks because they pit two of the state’s high-ranking Democrats against each other.

Afghanistan’s Opium Crop Shrinks After Record High, U.N. Says

Afghanistan’s opium harvest has dropped from last year’s record high, the United Nations announced Tuesday, contending that the tide of opium that engulfed Afghanistan in ever rising harvests since 2001 was finally showing signs of ebbing.

“The opium floodwaters in Afghanistan have started to recede,” Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, wrote in the foreword to the 2008 edition of the annual opium survey, published Tuesday. “Afghan society has started to make progress in its fight against opium,” Costa added.

Poppy cultivation has dropped by 19 percent since 2007, and has fallen beneath 2006 levels as well, the report said. The harvest is also down, although by a lesser margin because of greater yields, dropping by 6 percent to an estimated 8,500 tons.

More than half of Afghanistan’s provinces have now been declared poppy free — that is, 18 of 34 provinces grow few or no poppies, up from 13 poppy-free provinces last year.

Zimbabwe Parliament Opens With Jeers And Arrests

President Robert Mugabe opened Zimbabwe’s parliament on Tuesday to rambunctious heckling from opposition lawmakers, just hours after the police arrested three more of them, bringing the total to five.

Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 28 increasingly repressive years, declared that he had “every expectation” of striking a power-sharing deal with the opposition, but his government seemed to be further embittering its rivals and complicating prospects for a settlement by locking them up.

The police had sought to arrest eight members of parliament before they could vote Monday for the powerful position of speaker of the lower house, opposition officials said, but backed off when legislators summoned reporters. The opposition’s candidate for speaker won on Monday by a margin of 12 votes. For the first time since the country became independent in 1980, the opposition gained a majority in parliament.

But between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Tuesday, legislators wanted by the police heard a knock on the doors of their hotel rooms. Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, who said he feared for their lives, counseled them not to let anyone in until he arrived. Later Tuesday morning, they were taken into custody. More than 100 opposition supporters have been killed since Zimbabwe’s disputed elections in March, human rights groups say.