Top American commander leaves Iraq

BAGHDAD - Gen. David Petraeus, whose strategy for countering the Iraq insurgency is credited by many with rescuing the country from all-out civil war, stepped aside Tuesday as Gen. Ray Odierno took over as the top American commander of the conflict.

At a traditional change-of-command ceremony attended by top Iraqi and American military and civilian officials, Petraeus said that Odierno's skills and experience make him 'the perfect man for the job.'

With Defense Secretary Robert Gates presiding at the ceremony in a cavernous rotunda of a former Saddam Hussein palace outside Baghdad, Petraeus handed over the flag of his command, known as Multi-National Force Iraq, to Odierno and then bade farewell.

General: More US troops needed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Even after an extra U.S. Army brigade joins the fight against the insurgency in Afghanistan in January, three times that many reinforcements will be needed shortly thereafter, the highest-ranking U.S. general here said Tuesday.

Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the war is being fought with insufficient resources and that if more troops are not forthcoming, the fighting will last longer and take a higher toll.

He disputed the notion that the U.S. and NATO war strategy has failed and needs to be overhauled.

7 killed in Mexican Independence Day attack

MEXICO CITY - A Mexican governor said Tuesday that organized crime was responsible for explosions at an Independence Day celebration that killed at least seven people and injured 101 in the colonial city of Morelia.

The attack happened just as Gov. Leonel Godoy was delivering the traditional 'grito,' or shout for independence, in Morelia's main plaza, where thousands had gathered to celebrate.

Godoy said that based on witness accounts and because of the damage and death toll, authorities believe someone launched several grenades into the crowd.

Olmert, Abbas meet for possibly the final time

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sat down together Tuesday night, possibly their last meeting before the Israeli leader leaves office, making a final push to forge a peace agreement by the end of the year.

The talks came a day before Olmert's Kadima Party chooses a new leader in a process that could put peace efforts on hold for months. Olmert said he will resign over corruption allegations after today's ballot, though he could remain in office until next year if his resignation leads to new national elections.

Olmert and Abbas have met regularly since last November, when they renewed peace talks and pledged to try for an accord by this January.

Bolivia governor charged with genocide

LA PAZ, Bolivia - Bolivia's president said soldiers have arrested an opposition governor on charges of organizing a massacre.

Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez of Pando province is being charged with genocide in what President Evo Morales calls an ambush of his supporters last week that left at least 15 dead and 37 injured.

Morales announced the arrest at a news conference Tuesday.

Anti-Morales activists seized buildings last week in Pando and three other states to protest a planned vote on a new constitution granting greater power to Bolivia's poor indigenous majority.

Probe finds flap failure in Spanish plane crash

MADRID, Spain - Wing flaps that help lift a plane on takeoff failed on the Spanair flight that crashed last month and an alarm to warn pilots of the problem never sounded, according to an initial report Tuesday on the accident that killed 154 people.

The investigators did not say whether they believe the flap problem caused the Aug. 20 crash that killed all but 18 aboard the MD-82. They offered no theory on what triggered Spain's worst air disaster in 25 years.