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Israel caused an international furore when its commandos shot dead nine protesters on a Turkish ship bound with humanitarian supplies for Gaza which Israel has been blockading. The commandos boarded the ship before dawn and opened fire when some of those on board tried to repel them with sticks and, according to the Israelis, knives. Most governments deplored Israel's action but America persuaded the UN Security Council not to lay the blame exclusively on Israel.

President Obama cancelled visits to Australia and Indonesia in order to concentrate on social and environmental problems caused by the BP oil-slick in the Gulf of Mexico. He told a press conference that he was “furious” at BP's poor performance.

Germany's President Horst Kohler resigned over remarks he had made that the deployment of German troops abroad might have economic benefits. Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to persuade Kohler to stay in office, thus adding to other political problems she is facing.

A United Nations report warned that targetted assassination by intelligence services of Israel, Russia and the United States obscured the boundaries of international law. Drones of the kind used by the US encouraged a “Play Station attitude to killing” said the report.