Palestinian leader cancels trip to U.N.

Gaza City Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas vowed to hunt down the killers of a powerful former security chief whose gangland-style slaying Wednesday laid bare Gaza’s raging power struggles just days before Israel hands over control of the coastal territory.

In a brazen challenge to Abbas, a shadowy militant group claimed responsibility for killing Moussa Arafat, cousin of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in a burst of gunfire.

Citing the latest events a Palestinian official said Abbas had decided to cancel a visit to the United Nations General Assembly later this month, where he had been expected to meet Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.

About 100 masked militants stormed Arafat’s heavily guarded home in an upscale Gaza City neighborhood early Wednesday, sparking a 30-minute gunbattle with dozens of Arafat’s bodyguards. The assailants burst into the home, dragged out Arafat in his pajamas and gunned him down in the dusty street.

Typhoon reaches Japan’s northern island

Tokyo A powerful tropical storm churned northward through the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and leaving landslides and flooded towns in its wake.

The storm made landfall late Wednesday night on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, where up to 10 inches of rain was expected by early today, the Meteorological Agency said.

Typhoon Nabi had slammed into southern Japan on Tuesday, flooding towns and driving more than 300,000 people from their homes.

Woman denied in bid to wear veil in photo

Daytona Beach, Fla. A Muslim woman who, for religious reasons, wanted to wear a veil in her driver’s license photo must follow a Florida law that requires a picture of her full face, a state appeals court ruled.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld a 2003 ruling by an Orlando judge that Sultaana Freeman’s right to free exercise of religion would not be burdened by the photo requirement.

Freeman’s attorney, Howard Marks, said Wednesday he was considering an appeal. He said the decision didn’t respect the state constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

Yeltsin breaks his leg during trip to Italy

Rome Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin was hospitalized Wednesday after falling and breaking his leg at a villa in a resort town on the Italian island of Sardinia, officials said.

Emergency service workers arrived early Wednesday at the home in exclusive Porto Rotondo where the 74-year-old Yeltsin was staying and took him to a local hospital.

Yeltsin’s spokesman, Vladimir Shevchenko, told Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency the former president broke his thigh bone in a bad fall. .

It was unclear how serious Yeltsin’s break was, and the outcome of an operation also would depend on his general health.

Court rejects appeal in Menendez case

San Francisco A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld the convictions of Erik and Lyle Menendez, two brothers convicted of murdering their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion, a case that generated headlines around the globe.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left intact a 1998 state appeals court ruling upholding the convictions and life-without-parole sentences.

The brothers admitted fatally shooting Jose and Kitty Menendez in the home in August 1989 and were convicted of first-degree murder.

Jurors deadlocked at their first trial, with the judge giving jurors the option of manslaughter convictions based on the sons’ belief that they were in danger. At the retrial, the same judge did not allow a defense based on the danger belief.

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