Karzai officially declared president
Hamid Karzai was officially declared Afghanistan's first-ever popularly elected president Wednesday after a weeks-long fraud probe found no reason to overturn his landslide victory.
While the U.S.-backed leader made an immediate call for unity, his closest rivals refused to concede, undermining hopes for political stability in a country racked by ethnic mistrust.
The U.N.-sponsored electoral board, confirming the results of the Oct. 9 vote, said Karzai had won a five-year term with 55.4 percent, 39 percentage points more than his nearest rival. It was the first national ballot since the fall of the Taliban three years ago.
More suspects arrested for filmmaker's killing
Police arrested eight more suspected Islamic radicals Wednesday in the slaying of a Dutch filmmaker who criticized Muslim customs.
The arrests were made in the 24 hours since Theo van Gogh was slain Tuesday while cycling down an Amsterdam street -- believed to be the first Islamic terrorist attack in the Netherlands.
Six of the detainees are of Moroccan ancestry, one is Algerian, and the last has dual Spanish-Moroccan nationality, prosecution spokeswoman Dop Kruimel said. The eight are in addition to the suspect arrested minutes after the slaying, a 26-year-old Amsterdam resident of Moroccan origin.
Van Gogh released a fictional film in August about the mistreatment of Muslim women. In the film, women were shown naked with texts from the Quran scrawled on their bodies.
United Arab Emirates
Late president's son named successor
Arab leaders and other dignitaries prayed Wednesday over the body of United Arab Emirates President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, paying final respects to a man who transformed his desert country into an oil and business hub.
Outside the Sheik Sultan bin Zayed Mosque, thousands of Emiratis lining the streets set aside Qurans they were reading and put down posters of Sheik Zayed to say the prayers. Afterward, men in their traditional white robes mobbed the van carrying Sheik Zayed, who died Tuesday at 86, away for burial.
The brief and modest prayer service was televised live nationally and on Arab satellite stations that broke away from U.S. election coverage.
Later, Sheik Zayed's eldest son, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was chosen to succeed him as UAE president, the official Emirates news agency WAM reported.
U.S. Army deserter sentenced to 30 days
Four decades after he vanished from his Army unit, a 64-year-old American soldier pleaded guilty Wednesday to desertion, saying he wanted to avoid dangerous duty on the Korean peninsula and Vietnam.
Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins was given a 30-day sentence and a dishonorable discharge, and he immediately began serving his sentence at a U.S. naval detention center near Tokyo.
The plea, which came during a court-martial at this Army camp outside Tokyo, was part of a plea bargain with U.S. military officials to win Jenkins a lesser sentence.
Jenkins also pleaded guilty to aiding the enemy by teaching English to military cadets in the 1980s; however, he denied that he advocated the overthrow of the United States in propaganda broadcasts.
Top official implies war crimes in Sudan
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday there were strong indications of war crimes "on a large and systematic scale" in Sudan's Darfur region, where the violence has now affected 2 million people.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council, he said the Sudanese government had failed to bring the perpetrators of widespread killings, rapes, looting and village burnings to justice.
Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy to Sudan who wrote the report, will present it to the council today. He will recommend that members take "prompt action" to get the government and rebels to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding an end to the violence, disarmament of combatants and punishment of those responsible.
The conflict, which has killed at least 70,000 people, has created what U.N. officials say is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
Siblings convicted in felony spamming
A brother and sister who sent junk e-mail to millions of America Online customers were convicted Wednesday in the nation's first felony prosecution of Internet spam distributors.
Jurors recommended that Jeremy Jaynes be sentenced to nine years in prison and fined Jessica DeGroot $7,500 after convicting them of three counts each of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable routing information.
A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, 30, was acquitted of similar charges.
Virginia, where AOL is based, prosecuted the case under a law that took effect last year barring people from sending bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.
Prosecutors said Jaynes, 30, and DeGroot, 28, who live in the Raleigh, N.C., area, used the Internet to peddle sham products such as a "FedEx refund processor." In one month alone, Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders, each for $39.95, for the processor.
Militants extend deadline to kill hostages
Militants backed off a deadline to kill three U.N. hostages Wednesday and suggested a Filipino may be spared because his country has no troops in Afghanistan.
Authorities said they were hopeful the three would eventually be released unharmed. But they had no confirmation of claims by the kidnappers that negotiations were under way and appealed Wednesday to Afghans to provide information.
Annetta Flanigan of Northern Ireland, Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo were abducted in a daylight raid on their U.N. vehicle in the Afghan capital last Thursday.
Compensation approved for Gaza settlers
Israel's parliament gave preliminary approval for generous compensation packages to 8,800 Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip and West Bank for leaving their homes, a boost for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's fight to withdraw from Gaza after nearly 40 years of occupation.
The compensation bill sailed comfortably through the Knesset with the help of the opposition Labor Party, but the 64-44 vote reflected the deep division within Sharon's own camp and the fierce opposition of the settler movement.
A senior aide to Sharon said the "disengagement plan" was likely to get a further boost with the re-election of President Bush, who endorsed the plan as a way of dislodging the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock.