Bush puts optimistic face on fading peace hopes in Mideast
JERUSALEM - President Bush put an optimistic face on fading hopes for Mideast peace Wednesday, declaring that Israel's 60-year triumph over war and tragedy shows democracy can succeed everywhere. But Bush's upbeat message was marred by rocket fire from Gaza and threats of heavy retaliation by Israel.
Intended as an occasion for celebrating Israel's birthday, Bush's visit instead brought bursts of fresh violence, ominous warnings and disputed claims that Israel plans to expand settlement activity in the West Bank, a development that could undermine peace talks with Palestinians.
Red Cross: Up to 128,000 may have died in Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar - The Red Cross estimated Wednesday that the cyclone death toll in Myanmar could be as high as 128,000 - a much higher figure than the government tally. The U.N. warned a second wave of deaths will follow unless the military regime lets in more aid quickly.
The grim forecast came as heavy rains drenched the devastated Irrawaddy River delta, disrupting aid operations already struggling to reach up to 2.5 million people in urgent need of food, water and shelter.
Iraqi leader takes charge of offensive in Mosul
BAGHDAD - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took personal charge Wednesday of a military operation to rout al-Qaida in Iraq in what the U.S. has described as the terror group's last major stronghold, even as a tenuous cease-fire took hold over Baghdad's Sadr City slum.
The campaign in the northern city of Mosul was the third by al-Maliki in two months as he attempts to stamp out Shiite militants and Sunni extremists across the country.
Rescuers at quake epicenter digging by hand
HANWANG, China - Soldiers rushed to shore up a dam cracked by this week's powerful earthquake, and rescuers came by helicopter and ship Wednesday into the isolated epicenter but still were forced to dig for survivors with their bare hands.
Nearly 26,000 people remained buried in collapsed buildings from Monday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake, and the death toll of almost 15,000 was expected to climb as relief operations spread into the mountains of Sichuan province. The quake triggered landslides that blocked roads to hardest-hit areas.
- From wire reports