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JAPAN: Party to pick new leader

The cabinet resigned en masse Friday to clear the way for a ruling party vote to select a successor to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned two days earlier. Members of the Democratic Party of Japan will pick a new party chief, who will almost certainly be installed as prime minister because the ruling party controls a majority in the lower house of parliament. Former Finance Minister Naoto Kan, a straight-talker with activist roots, is widely expected to succeed Hatoyama, who quit amid plunging approval ratings.

IRAN: Pardons for election foes

Iran has pardoned or reduced the sentences of 81 people convicted in connection with protests over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June 12 re-election. Wednesday's announcement of the pardons coincided with a request to the government from opposition groups for permission to hold demonstrations on the anniversary of the disputed vote. The opposition alleges Ahmadinejad's victory was the result of fraud. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed to the pardons and cuts in sentences on the recommendation of the judiciary chief, according to Khamenei's website. Such actions are traditional to mark a religious or national celebration, in this case Thursday's anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Fatima. "Some of them were immediately released last night after the supreme leader's pardon," Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi was cited as saying by Fars news agency.

BRITAIN: Bin Laden photo? Sorry!

British Airways has apologized for a picture in a company magazine that showed a boarding pass in the name of Osama bin Laden. The company said Thursday that the image of the fake pass appeared in LHR News, a biweekly publication for British Airways employees at Heathrow Airport. "A mistake was made and we are working to find out how this occurred," the airline replied to Tweeters who raised the issue.

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