Bangladesh: Cyclone strikes

KHULNA — A powerful cyclone packing 150 mph winds slammed into Bangladesh on Thursday night, flattening homes, toppling trees and power poles, and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee for shelters in this low-lying nation.

Tropical Cyclone Sidr swept in from the Bay of Bengal, buffeting the southwestern coastal areas within a 155-mile radius of its eye with heavy rain and storm surges predicted to reach 20 feet high.

No casualties were immediately reported, but rescue teams were on standby.

Chile: Major aftershocks

TOCOPILLA — Strong aftershocks from a powerful earthquake hit northern Chile on Thursday as the government erected a working military hospital and promised hundreds of other portable dwellings for 15,000 left homeless by the quake.

Government and army workers scrambled to distribute tons of food, water and medicine after the 7.7 magnitude quake struck near the desert village of Quillagua in the foothills of the Andes on Wednesday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 150.

Major aftershocks shook the region Thursday, including one of magnitude 6.2 and another of magnitude 6.8, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of further damage or injuries.

Iran: U.S. urges sanctions

The U.S. called for new sanctions against Iran after a U.N. report Friday that said the Tehran regime has been generally truthful about key aspects of its past nuclear activities but is continuing to enrich uranium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said restrictions the Iranians put on U.N. inspectors two years ago mean it still cannot rule out that Iran has a secret weapons program, as suspected by Washington and its allies.

An Iranian envoy denounced the idea of further U.N. Security Council sanctions, saying the IAEA assessment shows it is cooperating.

Georgia: Emergency eases

TBILISI — A nationwide state of emergency imposed last week amid a police crackdown on opposition protests will end today under a measure approved overwhelmingly by Georgia's parliament.

The United States and other Western nations had pressured President Mikhail Saakashvili to end the state of emergency imposed Nov. 7 after police violently dispersed opposition protests in the capital, Tbilisi. Independent newscasts and demonstrations were also banned as a result.

West Bank: Political change

RAMALLAH — Hundreds of Palestinian business people and professionals, led by an influential billionaire, launched a new political movement Thursday, reflecting growing disillusionment with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

Fatah dominated Palestinian politics for decades but failed to reform or clean up its corrupt image, even after a painful loss to Hamas in parliament elections two years ago.

Billionaire businessman Munib al-Masri, 73, inaugurated his "Palestine Forum" with meetings in Ramallah and Gaza, linked by video conference. Supporters said he would convert the new group into a political party and field candidates in the next Palestinian election. No date for an election has been set.