World

Less than a week after changing the rule on voting in the Oct. 15 referendum on Iraq's proposed constitution, parliament reversed itself in the face of mounting protest by minority Sunni Muslims and pressure from the US and the UN. The rule as modified Sunday would have applied to all persons registered to vote in the referendum rather than just to those who go to the polls and cast ballots. It would have made all but impossible the rejection of the charter by Sunnis who oppose it. As originally written, the rule holds that a two-thirds "no" vote in any three provinces dominated by Sunnis defeats the question. The decision to change back came on a 119-28 vote.

Suspected Islamist terrorists struck again in southern Thailand, decapitating a villager who may have been Buddhist and killing five government soldiers as they were relaxing on an evening break. The latest deaths bring to more than 900 the number of people who have been killed in the nation's three southern provinces since Muslims began their separatist campaign in January of last year.

Women appeared to be closing in on the balance of power in Afghanistan's new parliament, as the first final - if unofficial - results of last month's election were made public. One-quarter of the assembly's 249 seats are reserved for women, which analysts said could become critical since early indications were that male opponents of President Hamid Karzai would hold at least a narrow edge over his male supporters.

Hundreds more migrants tried to force their way over or through the razor-wire border at Spain's Melilla enclave in Morocco, the fourth such attempt in two weeks. Sixty-five succeeded in the quest to escape Africa and pursue a better life in European Union countries, but the majority were being treated for cuts and bruises at the enclave's hospital. The Red Cross said it is sheltering at least 1,600 illegal migrants in a facility that has space for 500. Spain has sent hundreds of troops to Melilla and its sister enclave, Cueta, to reinforce security and plans to erect a third border fence.

Meteorologists downgraded hurricane Stan to a tropical depression as it spent much of its energy over Mexico's Oaxaca State after causing more than 70 deaths farther south. The storm made landfall near the busy port of Veracruz, toppling trees, tearing roofs off homes, and flooding roads and bridges. Hardest hit was El Salvador, where at least 49 people were reported dead. Twelve more were killed in Guatemala.

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