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NETHERLANDS: Karadzic opens his defense

Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, defending himself against charges of Europe's worst genocide since the Holocaust, told judges in The Hague Monday he was not the barbarian depicted by UN prosecutors, but was protecting his people against a fundamentalist Muslim plot. During a four-hour opening statement at the UN war crimes tribunal, Karadzic barely referred to specific allegations of mass murder at Srebrenica, indiscriminate shelling of Sarajevo, the destruction of Bosnian Muslim and Croat villages, or the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people during the 1992-95 war.

IRAQ: A flash point in election

Kirkuk's Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds each see Iraq's parliamentary elections as a chance to prove one thing: this city is ours. The claims over oil-rich Kirkuk are so contentious that they forced a delay in the national elections for two months as politicians debated how to apportion its votes. The balloting is scheduled for Sunday and the results could have far-reaching implications but for the whole of Iraq. Kirkuk is ground zero for potentially the most explosive conflict in Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal over the next year, the struggle between Arabs and Kurds over a large swath of the country's north.

HAITI: Desperate for schools

After seven weeks with seven kids huddled under a shelter of tarps and bed sheets on the median strip of a busy road, Lissithe Delomme says the government can't reopen schools fast enough. The Jan. 12 quake dealt a devastating blow to Haiti's already struggling schools: More than 80 percent in the earthquake zone were damaged or destroyed. All in Port-au-Prince and the other affected towns remain closed, and with tens of thousands of bored and restless children living in increasingly squalid encampments, patience is growing short.

ISRAEL: Son spied against Hamas

A senior Hamas leader publicly disowned his son Monday, days after the young man announced he had secretly spied for Israel and helped hunt down members of the Islamic militant group. Hamas Web sites published a letter by Sheik Hassan Yousef that the militant group said was smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is serving a 6-year sentence. In the letter, he said his family announced its "complete renunciation of the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab." The father said he was sorry to take such a step but said he had no choice after his son "disbelieved in God . . . and collaborated with our enemies," he said.


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