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WORLD BRIEFS


CHINA: Dissident artist released

Artist Ai Weiwei, the most high-profile victim of a sweeping crackdown on activists, returned home late Wednesday after nearly three months in detention, saying he was fine and conditions of his release meant he could not say more. Xinhua News Agency said Ai had confessed to tax evasion, which activists had denounced as a false premise for detaining him. He has spoken out strongly against the Communist Party, and supporters said he was being punished for speaking out about the leadership and social problems. The detention of Ai, 54, had sparked an international outcry.


MEXICO: Drug lord captured

The arrest of Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, nicknamed "The Monkey," let the government cross another name off its list of 37 most-wanted drug lords. Yet the capture on Tuesday of the leader of the cultlike La Familia in the western state of Michoacan and the death or capture of other alleged cartel leaders has done nothing to stop the drug-fueled bloodbath or the drug flow into the United States.


YEMEN: Militants escape prison

Nearly 60 suspected al-Qaida militants tunneled their way out of a prison in the lawless south Wednesday, deepening the chaos as protesters try to topple the autocratic regime. The escape from the Mukalla prison in Hadramout province is the latest sign that Islamic militants are seizing on the mayhem to operate more freely, which the United States fears will become an increasing international threat.


SOUTH AFRICA: A challenge to young women

Michelle Obama told young leaders, including members of South Africa's post-apartheid generation, Wednesday that there are more causes worth fighting for and more history to be made. She urged them to be the ones who end hunger, wipe out HIV/AIDS and protect women's rights. She was the keynoter at a U.S.-sponsored leadership conference for more than 70 young women in Johannesburg.

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