Britain: Scanning for knives

LONDON — A surge in violent knife crimes prompted London police to introduce a new program Thursday that will rely on mobile, airport-style scanners and hand-held metal detectors for use against people suspected of carrying concealed weapons.

The new program, called Blunt 2, started this week in one borough and should be in place in all 32 London boroughs within the next few months, said a Metropolitan Police spokesman, who asked not to be identified in line with police rules.

Ecuador: Hungry? Grow food

QUITO — Struggling with the rising price of food? Go grow your own. That's the solution Finance Minister Fausto Ortiz is offering Ecuadoreans.

Prices in Ecuador's dollarized economy have jumped by more than 8 percent over the past year. That's roughly double the rate for the United States, and Ortiz acknowledges it's "very troubling."

To combat inflation, Ortiz proposes that city dwellers in the South American nation "return to the countryside and take advantage of cheap credit and subsidized fertilizers" to raise their own crops.

Indonesia: Data will be shared

JAKARTA — Indonesia announced Thursday it would start sharing all information about its bird flu cases with a new global database to monitor whether the disease is mutating into a dangerous pandemic strain.

Experts said participation by Indonesia, the country hardest hit by avian influenza, will be a great help following its yearlong boycott of the World Health Organization's virus sharing system.

China, Russia and other nations that have withheld virus samples and genetic data from the international community are taking part in the new initiative as well.

Iraq: House-to-house searches

BAGHDAD — Government troops began house-to-house searches for al-Qaida in Iraq militants in Mosul on Thursday, part of a major security operation to cleanse Iraq's third-largest city from cells of the terror network.

Described by the U.S. military as the last major urban base of al-Qaida in Iraq, Mosul has become the site of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's third security drive in two months as he attempts to defeat Shiite militants and Sunni extremists.

Italy: Crackdown nets 400

ROME — Italian police have arrested nearly 400 people — mostly foreigners from Romania and North Africa — in a weeklong crackdown on street crime and illegal immigration, authorities said Thursday.

The sweep was one of the first actions taken by conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new government, which has pledged to improve safety on the streets following a spate of crimes in recent months blamed on foreigners.

Lebanon: Factions reach accord

BEIRUT — The Hezbollah-led opposition and U.S.-backed government reached a deal Thursday to end Lebanon's worst violence since the 1975-90 civil war, now that the Cabinet has reversed measures aimed at reining in the Iranian-backed militants.

The feuding factions agreed to hold political talks in Qatar on Friday that will lead to the election of Lebanon's army chief, Gen. Michel Suleiman, as a compromise president, said Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.