IRAQ/Early coalition building
Seizing on an early lead in Iraq's election, the prime minister's political coalition began reaching out to rivals Friday as partial results signaled a tight race that was unlikely to produce a clear-cut winner. It's doubtful that Nouri al-Maliki - even if he keeps his job - will be able to build a seamless government from political parties separated by sectarian fault lines and Shia rivalries. That would mean more political instability as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw and further setbacks to efforts to reconcile Iraq's fractured ethnic and sectarian communities. The count for all of Iraq's 18 provinces, including all-important Baghdad, was not expected for days.
ISRAEL/Clinton slams new housing
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his government's announcement this week of new Jewish housing in east Jerusalem, calling it "a deeply negative signal" for the Mideast peace process and ties with the United States. The State Department said Clinton spoke to Netanyahu by phone for 43 minutes to vent U.S. frustration with Tuesday's announcement that cast a pall over a visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden and endangered indirect peace talks with the Palestinians.
BRAZIL/Plane crash compensation
A Brazilian judge has ordered Air France to pay the equivalent of more than $1 million in damages to the family of one of the victims of last year's crash that killed more than 200 people, officials said Friday. Judge Mauro Nicolau Junior ordered Air France to pay $1.2 million in damages to the family of Marcelle Valpacos Fonseca, a Brazilian state prosecutor who was among the 228 people who died in the Rio-to-Paris crash, said a statement released by the Rio de Janeiro State Judiciary. Air France's insurer, AXA, said in a statement that it would appeal the ruling because it was not made by the compensation body established by Brazil's government.