ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti resigned, ending a 13-month tenure and clearing the way for elections that will focus on his crisis-fighting austerity policies.
The appointed premier submitted his resignation Friday to President Giorgio Napolitano, according to a statement from the president's office. Mr. Napolitano asked Mr. Monti's Cabinet to remain in power to handle routine government administration.
Mr. Monti, who took over last year, stepped down after lawmakers passed a 2013 budget law. The president has suggested Feb. 24 as the date for elections.
While he has overseen a recovery in Italy's bonds and repaired its tattered standing abroad, his agenda left Italians with higher taxes, rising unemployment and a shrinking economy.
DUBLIN -- In the politically charged aftermath of a pregnant woman's death, Ireland's simmering abortion debate exploded into mass demonstrations in Dublin and beyond last month. And in many thousands of homes across the nation, phones began ringing with an urgent message.
In Ireland political robocalls are illegal, punishable by fines of up to $330,000 per offense. Irish authorities have since come to believe the calls were organized by members of a U.S.-based anti-abortion group seeking to export American-style political tactics to the Old Country.
Syria rebels step up attacks
BEIRUT -- Syria's rebels stepped up attacks on strategic sites including a sprawling military complex in the country's north on Friday, while reports emerged that President Bashar Assad's forces continued to fire Scud missiles at rebel areas.
While few observers expect Syria's 21-month-old conflict to end soon, most say steady rebel advances appear to be tipping the balance in favor of those fighting to topple Mr. Assad's regime.
No let up in building
JERUSALEM -- Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to build in Jerusalem despite criticism from the United Nations, dismissing the international body in particularly strong terms.
"The capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years is Jerusalem," Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 2 television on Friday. "So I will say in the clearest way possible, the Western Wall in not occupied territory and I don't care what the U.N. will say," he added, referring to the wall Jews consider their holiest place for prayer.
College name change
ISLAMABAD -- The Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October has asked a provincial government to reverse its decision to name a college after her, an official said Friday. But her request was not immediately granted.
The young woman, Malala Yousafzai, 15, who attained fame as an advocate for girls' education, made the request out of concern for the safety of the school's female students, said the official, Kamran Rehman, the top civilian in the Swat Valley.
Also in the world ...
At least 39 people were killed and another 45 hurt in renewed ethnic fighting in Kenya's southeastern Tana River delta, where Orma livestock herders and Pokomo crop farmers have clashed repeatedly this year over grazing land and water. ... A U.S. Marine veteran who spent the past four months in a Mexican prison for crossing the border with a shotgun was expected to be released on Friday, according to his family and lawmakers who came to his aid.
-- Compiled from news services