Fake Indonesian inmate exposes prison corruption

JAKARTA, Indonesia - When Kasiem, a 55-year-old Indonesian woman, was condemned to seven months in prison she decided she would prefer not to serve the sentence. So she hired someone else to go to jail on her behalf.

Further delay for final Discovery launch

WASHINGTON DC - NASA said Thursday it had again postponed the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, already pushed back to February, to an undetermined date to allow more time for repairs.

Malaysia announces royal commission on political death

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia announced Friday a royal commission into the mysterious case of an opposition political aide who died last year, but the limited scope of the inquiry attracted immediate criticism.

Shock as Australians return to flood-hit homes

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia - Australians were greeted by scenes of devastation as they picked through their flood-shattered homes, with forecasts of more heavy rain Friday threatening a multi-million dollar clean-up.

Why French are world champs in pessimism

PARIS - The French live in one of the richest and safest countries in the world, yet they are global champions of pessimism, fearful of the future and longing for the past, according to a survey published this week.

Pakistan PM reverses petrol hike under pressure

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's beleaguered prime minister on Thursday caved into political pressure and reversed controversial fuel price hikes, in a move designed to prevent his fragile government from collapsing.

Japan urges 'concrete' steps from N. Korea

WASHINGTON – Japan Thursday demanded North Korea take "concrete actions" before renewed dialogue can resume on the divided Korean peninsula, a day after Pyongyang offered unconditional talks with the South.

US bars financial dealings with Ivory Coast leader

ABIDJAN/WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department on Thursday barred U.S. citizens from financial dealings with Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo until he steps down, while his rival guaranteed his safety if he goes.

Gates hopes to bolster U.S.-China military dialogue

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday he hoped to deepen U.S.-China military cooperation on issues like North Korea and Iran when he visits Beijing next week, which could help ease Pentagon concerns about Chinese military intentions.

Heavy rains hit Australia's flood-drenched northeast

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia - Heavy rains threatened further flooding in Australia's drenched northeast Thursday as besieged Rockhampton cut supplies to "irresponsible" residents who refused to leave water-bound homes.