Dean's remnants drench Mexico

' POZA RICA, Mexico - The remnants of Hurricane Dean dumped heavy rain across central Mexico on Thursday, drenching mudslide-prone mountains as it pushed inland after slamming into the Gulf Coast as a Category 2 storm and killing four people.

Neighbors banded together to clear fallen trees with axes and machetes from the streets of this storm-lashed city, while workers began reconnecting downed power lines.

Mexican officials said Thursday that four people died after the storm struck the central Mexican coast. In Veracruz state, a man drowned trying to cross a swollen river and another was crushed to death by a rain-soaked wall. In neighboring Hidalgo state, a woman and her 14-year-old son were killed when their shack collapsed on them in a mountain village.

Sudan expels top Canadian diplomat

' KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan expelled the top Canadian diplomat and the European Commission envoy from the country Thursday for what was described as 'meddling in its affairs,' the state news agency reported.

It was not immediately clear why they were being expelled, but many Western countries have been critical of the Sudanese government's role in its wartorn Darfur region.

Bush's invocation of Vietnam pullout rankles Vietnamese

' HANOI, Vietnam - President Bush touched a nerve among Vietnamese when he invoked the Vietnam War in a speech warning that death and chaos will envelop Iraq if U.S. troops leave too quickly.

People in Vietnam, where opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is strong, said Thursday that Bush drew the wrong conclusions from the long, bloody Southeast Asian conflict.

'Doesn't he realize that if the U.S. had stayed in Vietnam longer, they would have killed more people?' said Vu Huy Trieu of Hanoi, a veteran of the communist forces that fought American troops in Vietnam. 'Nobody regrets that the Vietnam War wasn't prolonged except Bush.'

Austrian panda gives surprise birth to cub

' VIENNA, Austria - A giant panda on loan from China gave her Austrian zookeepers a surprise Thursday: the first panda cub born in Europe in 25 years.

Caretakers at the Schoenbrunn Zoo detected the cub on a surveillance camera after hearing little squeals coming from an enclosed compound where the mother, Yang Yang, had retreated. Zookeepers had not been certain Yang Yang was pregnant.

Japanese activist jailed for sending severed finger to ruling party

' TOKYO - Police arrested an extremist Thursday for sending his severed finger to the ruling party to protest the prime minister's absence from a shrine on the anniversary of the end of World War II, officials and news reports said.

Yoshihiro Tanjo, a 54-year-old member of an ultra-right-wing group in Okayama, western Japan, was arrested on charges of threatening Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party, a prefectural police spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. He said no other details could be immediately released.

Kyodo News agency said Tanjo mailed his severed left pinky finger, a DVD showing the finger being chopped, and a protest statement to the LDP headquarters on Aug. 16, the day after the anniversary of the war's end.

Former Pakistani PM wins right to return to country

' ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Nawaz Sharif, head of a powerful Pakistani political party that wants to oust embattled President Pervez Musharraf, vowed to return quickly after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the former prime minister can come back from exile.

It was yet another setback for Musharraf, and Sharif immediately turned up the heat in a growing public clamor for an end to military rule by calling on Washington to support Pakistan as a country - not just the general.

25 inmates die in Brazil prison fire after mattresses torched by gang

' SAO PAULO, Brazil - At least 25 prisoners died early Thursday after inmates broke out of a cellblock and set a fire in an apparent attempt to settle scores with a rival gang, police said.

The victims could not escape from their cellblock after the attackers set fire to mattresses at the lockup in the town of Ponte Nova in the south-central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, said police Lt. Andrea Amara Lopes.

Authorities put out the fire set before dawn and rounded up the rest of the inmates while they tried to identify the victims and the perpetrators.