World briefs: Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif visit to U.S. highlights power shift

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ISLAMABAD -- Even before Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets President Barack Obama at the White House today, his visit to Washington as the leader of an increasingly democratic Pakistan already was remarkable for one major reason: not a single member of Pakistan's military was in his delegation.

In a country where the military has dominated the political landscape for most of the nation's existence, overthrowing civilian governments four times, Mr. Sharif's all-civilian delegation reflects a shift in dynamics that's likely to redefine Pakistan's historically troubled relationship with the United States.

Mr. Sharif's right-of-center Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party won a clear majority in May's general election.

4 police officers arrested

CAIRO -- In an unusual signal of willingness to hold security forces accountable for abuses, an Egyptian prosecutor ordered the arrests of four police officers in connection with the deaths of more than three dozen Muslim Brotherhood detainees more than two months ago, state media reported Tuesday.

The move to prosecute police officers in the deaths of 37 demonstrators who were arrested during Cairo protests in August was being closely watched as a potential precursor to greater scrutiny of the interim government's overall dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jerusalem mayoral vote

JERUSALEM -- The secular mayor of Jerusalem was fighting for his political survival in a closely watched re-election bid Tuesday.

Nir Barkat, a successful former high-tech entrepreneur, was elected in 2008 in a victory seen as a blow to years of dominance by ultra-Orthodox Jews over the city's affairs. His challenger in Tuesday's vote, Moshe Lion, is backed by two key politicians, including the chairman of an ultra-Orthodox party.

2 charged in poisonings

NEW DELHI -- Police in India have charged a school principal and her husband with murder in the July deaths of 23 children who were fed school lunches laced with insecticide, officials said Tuesday, in a case that shocked the country and contributed to concerns about food safety.

The principal, Meena Kumari, and her husband, Arjun Rai, went into hiding almost as soon as the young children in Ms. Kumari's care fell ill at the school in the village of Gandaman in the Saran district of Bihar, a state in India's northeast.

Pollution cripples China

BEIJING -- A large swath of northeastern China has been virtually paralyzed for two days by severe air pollution that forced airports and schools to close and drivers to turn on their headlights in the middle of the day.

The "airpocalypse" was blamed on the start of the winter heating season Sunday in a region that still uses coal-powered plants and the burning of fields at the end of the harvest.

Also in the world ...

Same-sex marriage ceremonies became legal in an Australian territory for the first time Tuesday, as the federal government said it would quickly challenge the law in the Australian Capital Territory in the nation's High Court on constitutional grounds. ... Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has purchased a 6 percent stake in the Spanish builder Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, known as FCC, becoming the latest investor to make a bet on the recovery of the Spanish economy.


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