Afghanistan: Gates' apology

KABUL — Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered the people of Afghanistan his "personal regrets" Wednesday for U.S. airstrikes that have killed civilians and said he would try to improve the accuracy of air warfare, the imperfect fallback for U.S. commanders who say they don't have enough ground forces for the deepening Afghanistan war.

"As I told them, I offer all Afghans my sincere condolences and personal regrets for the recent loss of innocent life as a result of coalition airstrikes," Gates said after meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "While no military has ever done more to prevent civilian casualties, it is clear that we have to work even harder."

Britain: Banker Robin Hood?

LONDON — Robin Hood may be a figure from English folklore, but police said Wednesday they had uncovered a modern-day variant: a banker who took from the rich and lent to the poor.

Benedict Hancock, a 39-year-old manager at the Royal Bank of Scotland, used millions from wealthy clients to make unauthorized loans to needier customers, police said. Hancock was arrested last year but the case only came to light Wednesday, in a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Canada: Meat plant reopens

TORONTO — A food company said Wednesday it has reopened a processing plant that was shut down for nearly a month after it was linked to tainted meat that caused a bacteria outbreak that killed 17 people across Canada.

Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain said production has resumed under a phasing-in period and tests will be done before any food is released to the public.

Mexico: Attack spurs search

MORELIA — Police searched Wednesday for a tall, heavyset man, using a composite sketch provided by witnesses who saw him lob a grenade into an Independence Day crowd, then beg for forgiveness before slipping away.

Local officials and the U.S. ambassador insisted Mexico's warring drug cartels were behind the attack that killed seven people Monday night, but federal prosecutors who took over the case said they did not have enough evidence yet to link the attack to organized crime.

Pakistan: Airstrike kills 6

ISLAMABAD — Air-fired missiles hit a militant compound near the Afghan border and killed at least six people Wednesday evening, officials said, soon after a senior American officer met with government leaders to discuss the furor over U.S. attacks inside Pakistan.

The airstrike was likely to further fan anger among Pakistanis over a surge in cross-border operations by U.S. forces that have strained the two countries' seven-year alliance against terrorist groups.

Russia: Friendship treaties

MOSCOW — Russia cemented its ties with Georgia's two breakaway provinces on Wednesday by signing friendship treaties envisaging close economic and military cooperation.

President Dmitry Medvedev pledged that Russia will protect Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has recognized as two independent nations after last month's war with Georgia.

Sudan: Peacekeeper-delay

Only half of the 26,000 peacekeepers authorized for Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region will be deployed by the end of the year, far below the 80 percent target, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Wednesday.

Alain Le Roy, a French diplomat who just took over the post, confirmed a report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late last month that it will take many more months to get the joint United Nations-African Union force on the ground.

Zimbabwe: 'Humiliation'

HARARE — President Robert Mugabe told his party Wednesday that sharing power with rivals is a "humiliation" but it has to be accepted because they lost the March elections.

Mugabe was shown on state television addressing a meeting of top ZANU-PF party leaders called to prepare for dividing the Cabinet with two opposition factions as stipulated in a deal signed Monday. Mugabe loyalists will lose Cabinet seats to make room for the opposition.

Afghanistan: Gates' apology

KABUL — Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered the people of Afghanistan his "personal regrets" Wednesday for U.S. airstrikes that have killed civilians and said he would try to improve the accuracy of air warfare, the imperfect fallback for U.S. commanders who say they don't have enough ground forces for the deepening Afghanistan war.

"As I told them, I offer all Afghans my sincere condolences and personal regrets for the recent loss of innocent life as a result of coalition airstrikes," Gates said after meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "While no military has ever done more to prevent civilian casualties, it is clear that we have to work even harder."

Britain: Banker Robin Hood?

LONDON — Robin Hood may be a figure from English folklore, but police said Wednesday they had uncovered a modern-day variant: a banker who took from the rich and lent to the poor.

Benedict Hancock, a 39-year-old manager at the Royal Bank of Scotland, used millions from wealthy clients to make unauthorized loans to needier customers, police said. Hancock was arrested last year but the case only came to light Wednesday, in a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Canada: Meat plant reopens

TORONTO — A food company said Wednesday it has reopened a processing plant that was shut down for nearly a month after it was linked to tainted meat that caused a bacteria outbreak that killed 17 people across Canada.

Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain said production has resumed under a phasing-in period and tests will be done before any food is released to the public.

Mexico: Attack spurs search

MORELIA — Police searched Wednesday for a tall, heavyset man, using a composite sketch provided by witnesses who saw him lob a grenade into an Independence Day crowd, then beg for forgiveness before slipping away.

Local officials and the U.S. ambassador insisted Mexico's warring drug cartels were behind the attack that killed seven people Monday night, but federal prosecutors who took over the case said they did not have enough evidence yet to link the attack to organized crime.

Pakistan: Airstrike kills 6

ISLAMABAD — Air-fired missiles hit a militant compound near the Afghan border and killed at least six people Wednesday evening, officials said, soon after a senior American officer met with government leaders to discuss the furor over U.S. attacks inside Pakistan.

The airstrike was likely to further fan anger among Pakistanis over a surge in cross-border operations by U.S. forces that have strained the two countries' seven-year alliance against terrorist groups.

Russia: Friendship treaties

MOSCOW — Russia cemented its ties with Georgia's two breakaway provinces on Wednesday by signing friendship treaties envisaging close economic and military cooperation.

President Dmitry Medvedev pledged that Russia will protect Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has recognized as two independent nations after last month's war with Georgia.

Sudan: Peacekeeper-delay

Only half of the 26,000 peacekeepers authorized for Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region will be deployed by the end of the year, far below the 80 percent target, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Wednesday.

Alain Le Roy, a French diplomat who just took over the post, confirmed a report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late last month that it will take many more months to get the joint United Nations-African Union force on the ground.

Zimbabwe: 'Humiliation'

HARARE — President Robert Mugabe told his party Wednesday that sharing power with rivals is a "humiliation" but it has to be accepted because they lost the March elections.

Mugabe was shown on state television addressing a meeting of top ZANU-PF party leaders called to prepare for dividing the Cabinet with two opposition factions as stipulated in a deal signed Monday. Mugabe loyalists will lose Cabinet seats to make room for the opposition.