International briefs

Toothpaste's poison linked to China

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA - Diethylene glycol, a poisonous ingredient in some antifreeze, has been found in 6,000 tubes of toothpaste in Panama, and customs officials there said Friday that the product appeared to have originated in China.

Some of the toothpaste, which arrived several months ago in the free trade zone next to the Panama Canal, was re-exported to the Dominican Republic in seven shipments, customs officials said. A newspaper in Australia reported Friday that one brand of the toothpaste had been found on supermarket shelves there and had been recalled.

There is no evidence that the tainted toothpaste is in the United States, according to U.S. government officials.


Business, politics divided over future

SOUTHERN SHUNEH - With bloodshed on the rise in Gaza and Iraq, politicians attending the World Economic Forum warned Friday of a bleak future for the Mideast if its explosive tensions are not resolved.

But business leaders - looking at the booming, oil-rich Gulf - painted a sunnier picture of the region's potential.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni both canceled plans to attend the forum because of the crisis ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.


14 Taliban reported killed in airstrikes

KABUL - Airstrikes targeted a convoy of suspected Taliban militants who had left a meeting in western Afghanistan, killing 14 and wounding 10, a provincial governor said Friday.

The Taliban had met Thursday to appoint a leader in western Farah province, Gov. Muhaidin Baluch said. As they left the meeting in Bakwa district, airstrikes hit seven of their vehicles, he said.


Activist couple under house arrest

BEIJING - A young Chinese couple who have promoted a variety of delicate social and political causes were barred from leaving the country on Friday and placed under house arrest, the couple said. The police barred Hu Jia, 33, and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, 23, from departing from Beijing on a trip to Hong Kong and several European countries, Hu said. The couple had planned to defend other Chinese campaigners for human rights who had been prosecuted in recent months.


President unveils diverse Cabinet

PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a streamlined Cabinet of historic diversity and ideological scope Friday, appointing leftists, centrists, an unprecedented number of women and France's first powerful minister of North African descent.


Journalists defy eviction notice

MOSCOW - The largest society of independent journalists in Russia, the Russian Union of Journalists, long critical of the Kremlin's curtailment of the independent news media, defied a government eviction notice on Friday, saying it would try to remain in its offices in spite of state pressure.