Easing some of the political tension in Pakistan, the government released more than 3,000 of the lawyers and opposition activists arrested under President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule. Another 2,000 will be freed "soon," the Interior Ministry said. But in Karachi and Hyderabad police clashed with journalists protesting the state of emergency, arresting more than 100 of them. Musharraf was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia amid persistent speculation that he'd meet with exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about a power-sharing government. Sharif, however, has said he won't talk with Musharraf.

Hundreds of thousands of civil servants joined the week-long strike by transport workers in France, and university students added to the chaos by disrupting classes in the biggest challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy since he assumed office. Opinion polls showed that the work stoppage is unpopular with the public, but at the same time it ratchets up pressure by the day on Sarkozy to work for a breakthrough. The civil service sector is France's largest employer. Above, strikers carry their union flags in a march through the city of Nice.

Flags flew at half-staff across Ukraine Tuesday as authorities raised the number of men killed in last weekend's coal mine explosion to 89, making it the worst accident of the post-Soviet era. Eleven other miners remain missing, and reports said hope of finding any of them alive was all but gone. President Viktor Yushchenko ordered an investigation of the accident and called for the mining sector to be overhauled.

With its commitment to promote human rights and democracy, the first constitution of the political and trade bloc for Southeast Asia was adopted by its members Tuesday. But critics warned that the credibility of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remains in doubt because of its refusal to rein in the junta that rules Burma (Myanmar). The bloc has rejected all calls to suspend the junta from membership. Above, ASEAN leaders pose for a celebratory photo after adopting the charter.

Despite heavy security, voter turnout was low across Jordan Tuesday for an election to fill 110 seats in parliament, dampening hopes of a transition to an eventual democracy. Apathy combined with skepticism that the legislature can help alleviate poverty were keeping people from the polls, analysts said. Parliament was revived in 1989 after decades of martial law. But King Abdullah holds total authority, and the legislature serves mostly to rubber- stamp his initiatives.

One suspect in a planned massacre of students at a high school in Cologne, Germany, took his own life after being questioned by police, reports said Tuesday. His would-be accomplice is in custody. The attack would have been the second in Europe in less than a month and the third in Germany in five years. It was foiled when fellow students reported seeing the suspects studying details of the 1999 Columbine massacre in the US. On Nov. 7, a Finnish teenager killed himself and seven others and wounded 11 more at his school.

AIDS cases fell around the world for the first time over the past year, UN health officials said. But an annual report to be issued Wednesday by the World Health Organization and the UN AIDS Agency is expected to point to previously inflated estimates – notably in India – as the main reason for the drop. Reports said the officials will put the number of people infected with the virus that's believed to cause AIDS at 33.2 million, down from 40 million in 2006. Critics said the new finding was long overdue.

A plan to double the number of poor people receiving old-age pensions in India to 16 million will be implemented by March, the government announced Monday. It said the projected cost – $1 billion – would not strain the fiscal 2009 budget.

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