China: Death sentence
BEIJING A former prosecutor in northern China has received a death sentence for taking bribes and embezzling funds totaling $2.66 million, a court official said Thursday.
The trial in the prosperous port of Tianjin is the latest in a series of high-profile corruption cases as the communist government tries to crack down on systemic graft it says threatens its grip on power.
Gaza Strip: Truce pondered
GAZA CITY Israel is examining a Hamas truce proposal delivered by Egypt, defense officials said Thursday after at least six Palestinians were killed in a day of Israeli air and ground strikes aimed at stopping rocket salvos from Gaza.
The Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Hamas proposal was limited to stopping the rocket fire in exchange for a halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza. They said Hamas gave assurances it could impose the truce on the militant groups that are firing the rockets Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
Kyrgyzstan: Opposition falters
BISHKEK The parties that support Kyrgyzstan's president swept the parliamentary elections, according to final results released Thursday, excluding the opposition from power and raising the risk of political clashes.
Instability here could threaten a U.S. air base, vital in the allied struggle against insurgents in Afghanistan, along with plans for roads, railroads and pipelines through this corner of energy-rich ex-Soviet Central Asia.
The Central Election Commission said President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's political party Ak Jol won 71 out of 90 seats in Sunday's vote, the Central Election Commission said. Two smaller parties that have sided with Bakiyev in the past the social democrats and communists won the rest.
Mexico: 4 victims had cash
MEXICO CITY Four Mexican construction workers found stabbed to death in their Ohio apartment had just taken out large amounts of cash to bring back to Mexico for the holidays, a relative and a local parish priest said Thursday.
The four undocumented migrants had been dead a week to nine days when they were found Dec. 13 in their apartment in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville.
Two of the victims left behind a wife and two children each, said Filemon Guardado, a second cousin of all four victims, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone.
New Zealand: Buildings topple
WELLINGTON A strong earthquake struck New Zealand on Thursday night, collapsing at least three older buildings in one coastal city on North Island, sparking small fires and forcing authorities to declare a state of emergency there.
Only 10 minor injuries were reported in the port city of Gisborne, which was hit hardest by the quake and suffered the most property damage, although it was felt all over the country, officials said.