World

On an Islamist website, Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged Iraqis Saturday to reject what he called US plans to form a national unity government and warned that those who took part would be turning their backs on Islam. He also accused Washington of plotting to take control of Iraq's oil and vowed to expand jihad to liberate all Palestinian land.

Hong Kong democracy advocates marched Saturday in the former British colony, saying they were furious with Beijing's decision to delay direct elections of leaders in the city until 2017. Proponents of elections originally tried to have them adopted this year, then in 2012. China has favored a more gradual approach, partly because it is wary of the influence elections could have on parts of the country that lack the civil and political freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong. Above, Martin Lee (r.), talks to a supporter during a 24-hour hunger strike to demand full democracy.

Concern grew Sunday over stalled efforts by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to free three hostages held by Colombian rebels. Those held – two former Colombian politicians and the young son born to one of them – were to have been released Thursday, but the rebels have withheld their whereabouts after weeks of promising to free them. Although uncertain of Chávez's motives, the Colombian government let him fly in helicopters for the purpose collecting the hostages.

Greece, Romania, and Canada enjoy the best privacy records and Malaysia, Russia, and China the worst, according to a 47-country study released Saturday by Privacy International, a human rights watchdog group based in London. Privacy is worsening across western Europe, improving in Eastern, but generally "being extinguished in country after country," the group claims. It looked at legal protections, enforcement, data sharing, and the use of biometrics and surveillance technology.

Iraqi security forces were on high alert Sunday around Baghdad and in the Sunni heartland north of the capital as the country marked the first anniversary of ousted leader Saddam Hussein's execution. In his hometown of Tikrit, some people among the hundreds who turned out to remember him gave fiery speeches.

Retired Croatian Gen. Mladen Markac, a suspected war criminal, was arrested and transferred to The Hague court's cells in the Netherlands over the weekend after breaching the terms of provisional UN-tribunal release. Markac, who was ordered not to leave his home in Zagreb, Croatia, was photographed on a hunting trip.

Britain's Prince Charles has contacted Norwegian officials about teaming up to prevent deforestation in developing countries. Norway announced earlier this month that it will spend $541.2 million annually on such efforts. Charles has his own Rainforests Project.

Nepal's former communist rebels, who gave up their decade-long armed revolt last year, said Sunday they were set to rejoin the government. The decision would end the country's political crisis three months after the ex-guerrillas walked out of a ruling coalition. The former rebels said they're willing to rejoin the coalition after last week's agreement to drop the country's monarchy after elections in April.

Australian David Hicks, the first person convicted by a US military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, spent his second day of freedom in hiding in Adelaide. Hicks, who was captured while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan, still must report regularly to the police after spending 5-1/2 years in US custody and nine months in an Australian prison. Above, Hicks (l.) is escorted out of a maximum-security facility in Adelaide.

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