Arab Emirates: No. 1 plate
ABU DHABI A license plate with nothing but the number 1 on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday.
Saeed Khouri, a member of a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, wouldn't say how many automobiles he owned or which of them might carry the record-breaking single-digit plate.
"I bought it because it's the best number," said Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."
Gaza Strip: Assassination plot?
GAZA CITY Gaza's Hamas rulers on Saturday accused aides of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of being behind an alleged plot to assassinate a top Hamas official.
Abbas' office denied the claims, which set off an angry verbal exchange between the bitter rivals and further dimmed prospects of reconciliation. Meanwhile, thousands marched in a funeral procession for eight Palestinians killed in a huge blast at the home of a senior Islamic Jihad activist in the Gaza refugee camp of Bureij.
Iran: President's power
TEHRAN Iran's constitutional watchdog on Saturday opposed an attempt by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to expand his administration's power, saying the move "lacks legal justification."
The decision by the Guardian Council was the second major rebuke in less than a month for the hardline president, whose popularity has plummeted recently in the face of Iran's ailing economy. The most recent conflict began earlier this month when Iran's parliament opposed Ahmadinejad's attempt to bring several cultural, economic, technological and environmental institutions under tighter government control.
North Korea: Disarmament
PYONGYANG North Korea has slowed nuclear disarmament to a snail's pace because it has received only part of the energy aid it was promised in return and does not believe it has made progress toward being removed from the U.S. state terrorism list, a delegation of U.S. experts reported Saturday.
The experts said they had broad access to North Korean nuclear facilities and held discussions with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Pyongyang, the capital, during their four-day private visit to the isolated nation.
Russia: Spy satellite concerns
MOSCOW Russia said Saturday that U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite may be a veiled test of America's missile defense system.
The Pentagon failed to provide "enough arguments" to back its plan to smash the satellite next week with a missile, Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Bush administration says the operation is not a test of a program to kill other nations' orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities. U.S. diplomats around the world have been instructed to inform governments that it is meant to protect people from 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel on the bus-size satellite hurtling toward Earth.
Somalia: Clashes kill hundreds
MOGADISHU Ongoing clashes in the capital left nearly 300 Somalis dead and hundreds more wounded last month, a local human rights group said Saturday.
Elman Human Rights said 292 people had been killed and another 325 wounded in Mogadishu in January. Civilians are frequently caught in the crossfire between government troops and their Ethiopian allies and Eritrean-backed Islamic insurgents.