Legislators quash impeachment case against Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's congressional allies dealt a major blow Wednesday to efforts to oust her, using their dominating majority - and the opposition's absence - to toss out all three impeachment complaints against her.

Opposition legislators cried foul and warned that the country's third ''people power'' revolt loomed. They watched the events unfold on TV, like the rest of the country, after walking out a day earlier from the House justice department committee hearing on the

complaints.

U.N. agency: Bird flu could spread to Europe, Middle East

ROME - The bird flu virus that has hit several Asian countries is likely to spread to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the U.N. food agency warned on Wednesday, urging nations at risk to step up surveillance and prepare national emergency plans.

The most immediate threat is to poultry farms, but the virus' spread also increases fears that it could mutate into a form dangerous to humans.

A coordinated international response to bird flu is ''absolutely necessary,'' French President Jacques Chirac said.

Probe into Hariri slaying focuses attention on Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon - The U.N. probe into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri - in which four pro-Syrian generals and a lawmaker were named as suspects - has increased pressure on Syria by stoking suspicions that government members played a role in the killing.

The generals were questioned Wednesday, a day after they were detained or surrendered to authorities at the request of United Nations investigators trying to determine who was behind the Feb. 14 bombing that killed Hariri and 20 others.

The recent developments led some to predict Washington would use the information to increase pressure on Syria, which the United States claims is supporting Islamic militants battling U.S. forces in Iraq and Palestinian militants in their fight with Israel.

Israeli parliament approves posting Egyptian troops

JERUSALEM - Israel's parliament on Wednesday approved a plan to post Egyptian troops on the Gaza border, setting the stage for an Israeli military pullout from the sensitive coastal frontier it has held for 38 years.

But the stormy debate over giving up control to a former enemy and the possibility of Palestinian arms smuggling added fuel to the rivalry between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu.

The parliamentary vote was not close - 53 to 28. It came as Netanyahu, who quit the Cabinet just three weeks ago, opened a campaign to unseat Sharon as the leader of the ruling Likud Party.

Encephalitis kills hundreds of children in India and Nepal

HANOI, Vietnam - A Japanese encephalitis outbreak that has killed hundreds of children in northern India and Nepal in recent weeks has no cure or effective treatment. It is easily preventable, but the necessary vaccines are simply not available to millions.

The disease has overwhelmed hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, since an outbreak began there last month. More than 400 have died and about 1,100 others remain hospitalized. Blinding headaches, seizures, nausea and high fever precede death.

Pentagon makes changes in trials of terrorism suspects

WASHINGTON - The Defense Department is changing several rules governing its military trials of terrorism suspects held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, department officials said on Wednesday.

Pentagon officials portrayed the changes as improvements to a process they have repeatedly asserted assures all defendants a full and fair trial. Some private legal experts welcomed the changes but said they do not go far enough and do not address some of the most objectionable features of the trial system.

- From wire reports