Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc, the National Accordance Front, returned to the government fold Saturday after calling off a nearly one-year boycott of the Shiite-dominated leadership. The return is seen as a significant advance toward reconciliation and efforts to cement security cooperation between Shiite-led forces and armed Sunni groups that rose up against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Beijing started its most drastic pollution-control plan Sunday, restricting car use and limiting factory emissions in a last-minute push to clear smog-choked skies for the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8. Under the plan, half of the city's 3.3 million cars must stay off the roads on alternating days, depending on a car's license number. Meanwhile, a 100,000-strong antiterrorism force is increasingly making its presence known. Above, paramilitary policemen stand in front of the main Olympic stadium, known as the Bird's Nest.
NATO said Sunday that its forces accidentally killed at least four civilians in eastern Afghanistan, and that an investigation is under way to determine how three other civilians were killed in the Barmal district of Paktika Province. The reported civilian deaths could hurt popular support for the Afghan government and for foreign forces operating there.
In a potentially damaging diplomatic incident Saturday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said deception by rich countries in trade talks reminded him of tactics used by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. The controversy threatens to overshadow the last-ditch World Trade Organization talks, the so-called Doha trade round that begin Monday in Geneva aimed at alleviating global poverty.
Archaeologists and scholars announced plans Saturday to begin an excavation of hundreds of pieces of a 4,500-year-old Egyptian vessel in an underground chamber next to the Great Pyramid at Giza, southwest of Cairo. They will try to reassemble the sister ship of a similar boat painstakingly reconstructed after it was removed in pieces in 1954. The ships probably were intended to transport the pharaoh in the afterlife.
Seeking to maintain the appearance and character of its historical sights, Rome began a four-month tourist season ban over the weekend on snacking near its ancient treasures.
To deal with runaway inflation, Zimbabwe will introduce a new 100-billion-dollar bank note Monday. It is the latest new high-denomination note put in circulation this year, as the country grapples with a postelection crisis and an inflation rate that some independent economists believe could be as high as 15 million percent.
Happiness is on the rise around the world, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. In what they call a surprising finding, they determined that in an "overwhelming majority of nations," people surveyed indicated that both happiness and general life satisfaction have risen during the past 26 years. Denmark ranks as the happiest country, Zimbabwe as the unhappiest. The US is 16th on the list.
At a mass attended by 350,000 Roman Catholic pilgrims in Australia Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up the church's six-day World Youth Day festival in Sydney by urging young people to be agents for change and to spurn the materialism that leads to the spread of a "spiritual desert." Above, he greeted young people at the final mass at Randwick Racecourse.