Parliamentarians try to win British teacher's release

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Two British parliament members met officials in Sudan on Saturday to try to secure the release of a British teacher imprisoned for naming a teddy bear Muhammad and later said the Khartoum government wants to resolve the case.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Lord Nazir Ahmed, both Muslim members of Parliament's upper house, also visited the teacher Gillian Gibbons in prison.

Concern for Gibbons' safety was sparked Friday after thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and swords and beating drums, burned pictures of her and demanded her execution during a rally in the capital Khartoum.

Voters to decide on expanding Chavez's powers

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez faces his stiffest challenge in years today as voters decide whether to approve constitutional changes that would greatly expand his powers and let him seek re-election for decades to come.

An emboldened opposition and recent violent clashes in street protests point to a potentially volatile dispute if the vote is close.

European space lab to set sail for space station after 25-year wait

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - It took less time for Christopher Columbus to drum up the money and set sail for the New World than it has for the Columbus space lab to get off the ground.

This week, after 25 years in the making, Europe's treasured space laboratory will be launched on a flight to the international space station.

Scientists and engineers throughout Europe have been waiting for this moment since development of the $2 billion lab began in 1982. The lab is set to go up Thursday with a crew of seven aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

Militants raid Shiite village

BAGHDAD - Dozens of suspected al-Qaida militants showered a Shiite village with mortar rounds early Saturday, then stormed the streets, killing at least 13 Iraqis, torching homes and forcing hundreds of families to flee, police said.

Some villagers fought back, leaving three gunmen dead in the heart of one of Iraq's most violent regions.

Even with nationwide violence ebbing to the lowest levels since January 2006, American commanders have warned that security is precarious in northern Iraqi regions such as Diyala - where Saturday's attack took place - as al-Qaida and other militants have moved there to avoid coalition operations.