North Korea placed its military on combat alert Monday and warned that any attempt to shoot down its soon-to-be-launched "communications satellite" would be a declaration of war. It also blocked access by hundreds of South Koreans to their jobs in the joint industrial park on its side of their border and cut all communications with the government in Seoul. The moves came as US and South Korean forces opened their annual maneuvers.

Despite the suspicions of his followers, Zimbabwe's prime minister ruled out foul play in the traffic accident last Friday that killed his wife, Susan, and caused him head injuries. Leaving a hospital for her funeral, Morgan Tsvangirai said, "let's mourn with hope" that Zimbabwe's shattered economy can be rescued and its tension-filled unity government can be successful.

Western-style democracy will "never" be permitted in China, parliament chief Wu Bangguo said Monday. In his speech to the National People's Congress (above), he called the communist system "the correct orientation" and said it should be strengthened. His lengthy defense of communism appeared to be a response to an open letter signed by 300 Chinese activists that called for greater political rights. A year ago, Wu also rejected democracy, but only in passing.

Seven weeks after being arrested, Sudanese opposition leader Hassan Turabi was freed from prison Monday, apparently for health reasons. But he insisted he hasn't changed his view that President Omar al-Bashir should surrender to the International Criminal Court, which has indicted him on war-crimes charges and issued an arrest warrant. Turabi, who split with his former ally 10 years ago, was taken into custody after first suggesting that Bashir should give himself up.

A splinter group of the Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the shooting deaths of two British soldiers at their base in Northern Ireland late Saturday. But the leader of the political party allied with the IRA, Gerry Adams, insisted "there is no popular support for these actions." He said, "The ground that has been gained for the decent, ordinary people across this island cannot be surrendered to anyone." The Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders of the power-sharing government both vowed that the attack would not weaken their coalition.

Antigovernment protesters were gathering in Madagascar's capital Monday for another rally amid reports that a group of soldiers also was rebelling. About 30 officers at a base outside the capital, Antananarivo, were refusing to take further orders from President Marc Ravalomanana. At last word, there was no violence, but the government warned it would take "military measures" against the mutineers rather than risk their dissent spreading to the enlisted ranks.

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela warned Colombia that he'd "fire up" his nation's tanks and jet fighters if any of the latter's troops crossed their common border. Chávez spoke after Colombian Defense Minister and prospective presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos said he wouldn't rule out pursuing rebel units into adjacent countries. Last year, Colombian troops killed leftist rebel chief Raul Reyes and 25 followers on Ecuadoran soil, triggering a diplomatic row that still simmers.

Ten thousand members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union are to vote Tuesday on an agreement with General Motors to freeze pay and pensions until 2012. The deal, seen as a template for pacts with Ford and Chrysler, also calls for suspension of cost-of-living adjustments for wages and benefits, among other features, to help the deeply troubled automakers. A union spokesman called the agreement "a cultural shift for our organization."

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