Terror threat shuts missions
A terrorism threat has prompted the United States to close dozens of American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere through the weekend, U.S. officials said Thursday. Officials gave few details about what prompted the move to close an unusually large number of U.S. missions, but said there was "credible" information that an al-Qaida regional affiliate might be plotting an attack sometime in the coming days. Officials said the State Department was planning to have nearly all U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia closed through the weekend, including missions in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Iraq toll highest in five years
More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, the highest monthly death toll in five years, the U.N. said Thursday. The grim figure shows rapidly deteriorating security as sectarian tensions soar nearly two years after U.S. troops withdrew from the country. Violence has been on the rise all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began early last month. The increased bloodshed has intensified fears Iraq is on a path back to the widespread chaos that nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Berlusconi's sentence sticks
For the first time in decades of criminal prosecution, a conviction against former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi finally stuck Thursday, leaving the media mogul with a four-year prison sentence for tax fraud with all of his appeals exhausted. But it's highly unlikely the man who long was Italy's most powerful politician will serve out the sentence behind bars. Experts said that at 76, Berlusconi would more likely face house arrest or community service.
Disputed poll poses divisions
Allegations of vote-rigging flowed Thursday in Zimbabwe with reports of fake registration cards, voters turned away from the polls and people appearing on voters' lists four times with different IDs. Even before results were announced, the main opposition camp said longtime President Robert Mugabe stole the election, which his supporters denied. Either way, the country faces fresh political uncertainty. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's main challenger, said the elections Wednesday were "null and void" due to violations, and a poll monitoring group also said the poll was compromised by a campaign to stop voters from casting ballots.