Parents of China quake victims express anger

BEICHUAN COUNTY, China - Hundreds of grieving parents blocked the road into a flattened town Thursday as police sought to quell a rising wave of public anger over schools that collapsed in an earthquake a month ago and killed thousands of children.

Volunteers were detained, schools were cordoned off and reporters were barred from the premises in at least two other towns in a sign of the government's resolve in controlling the media and potential unrest.

Despite assurances that unfettered coverage would be allowed, dozens of police and paramilitary troops guarded the gate of Juyuan's destroyed middle school as a crowd of about 50 gathered outside. Outside a primary school in Dujiangyan, police and soldiers also stood guard to keep out parents and journalists.

Iraq lawmakers reject draft pact

BAGHDAD - New U.S. proposals have failed to overcome Iraqi opposition to a proposed security pact, two lawmakers said Thursday, and a senior government official expressed doubt an agreement could be reached before the U.S. presidential election in November.

The security agreement would provide a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of this year. Failure to strike a deal would leave the future of the American military presence here to the next administration.

Zimbabwe police haul in leaders of the opposition

HARARE, Zimbabwe - President Robert Mugabe's regime struck at his rivals Thursday only two weeks before Zimbabwe's presidential runoff, twice detaining his challenger and jailing the No. 2 opposition leader to face treason charges.

The U.S. ambassador, meanwhile, said 20 tons of American food aid heading to impoverished Zimbabwean children had been seized by authorities last week and given to Mugabe supporters at a rally.

The repeated detentions, coupled with Western accusations that Mugabe's regime is using food as a weapon, dramatically demonstrate the obstacles to the campaign thrown up by the longtime leader.

Pentagon chief regrets problems from airstrike

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he has invited Afghanistan and Pakistan to be part of a U.S. investigation into an airstrike that Pakistani officials say killed 11 of their troops.

The Pentagon chief said he believes all the usual procedures were followed during the military operation against what other U.S. officials have called 'anti-coalition forces' on the Afghan side of the border who fled to the Pakistan side of the border.

'We think all the procedures were followed. But that will be for the investigation to decide. And if we need to make changes, we will,' Gates said while attending a NATO meeting here.

Bush disagrees with court's Gitmo ruling

ROME - President Bush on Thursday strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that clears foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Bush suggested new legislation may now be needed to keep the American people safe.

'We'll abide by the court's decision,' Bush said during a news conference in Rome. 'That doesn't mean I have to agree with it.' The court's decision was sure to be popular in Europe, where many leaders have called for the closing of Guantanamo.

Gaza house blast kills 7; Hamas hints at accident

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip - An explosion flattened a house in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing seven people. After blaming Israel and unleashing a barrage of rockets and mortar shells, Hamas suggested the blast was accidental, not an Israeli attack.

By then, Israel had carried out an airstrike aimed at a Gaza rocket squad, killing a Palestinian. Two other Israeli military operations in Gaza killed five more militants.

Donors promise $21 billion more for Afghanistan

PARIS - Donors ranging from the U.S. the World Bank pledged more than $21 billion for Afghanistan on Thursday - and this time they want their money spent better in a desperately poor country where the president is barely in charge.

Benefactors that have already poured billions into Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban nearly seven years ago said they want greater coordination of the handouts and larger involvement by President Hamid Karzai's administration.