Around the world

RESIGNS: Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the tycoon who rode into politics on a wave of dissatisfaction with the old guard's scandals, resigned Thursday after rebellious allies and a corruption probe tore apart his 7-month-old government. The collapse of the government comes a year after the media magnate launched a conservative political movement as scandals wiped out the parties that had led Italy since World War II. Berlusconi submitted his resignation Thursday to President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who now must decide how to head toward forming a new government - which would be Italy's 54th since 1945.OPEN SKIES: North Korea declared Thursday its air space would be opened to all foreign airlines and announced plans to start a new air route linking Beijing and Tokyo with its capital of Pyongyang. The declaration was seen as a countermeasure to Thursday's inaugural flights by two South Korean airlines linking Seoul and Beijing. South Korean officials said the symbolic move would have little effect on the region's air transportation market.

PACKAGES: The thousands of Cuban and Haitian refugees housed at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are able to receive packages for the first time since they were brought to the tent cities last summer, military officials said Wednesday. Previously, their mail had been limited to postcards or letters weighing one ounce or less. There are 21,858 Cubans and 4,667 Haitians housed at Guantanamo, all refugees intercepted at sea this summer as they tried to reach the United States.

CANING: The Malaysian Parliament has approved a law that makes caning mandatory for white-collar crimes, which are on the rise in the Southeast Asian nation. "The purpose of caning white-collar criminals is to shame them," said Law Minister Syed Hamid Albar. The law provides for whipping for such crimes as embezzlement, tax fraud and bribery. The bill, approved Wednesday night, also eliminates all jury trials, which were being used only for first-degree murder cases. Malaysian courts often order canings for violent criminals, but the punishment has not previously been applied to white-collar crimes.

Across the nation

UFO: A Michigan state trooper responding to a woman's UFO report Wednesday confirmed seeing "a cylindrical mass with a large amount of individual lights." A description of the "cylindrical mass, gray in color, with a large amount of individual lights that appeared to be connected by a softer light," was included in the trooper's report filed at the state police in Traverse City after his strange encounter on the northern Michigan farm. A five-minute videotape shot by the woman and broadcast on local television provided additional evidence that something was indeed out there, police said. "This one is apparently a valid report," said one of the trooper's superiors.

WRONG CHOICE: A truck driver decided it would be better to swerve into a ditch than rear-end a school bus he suddenly saw stopped ahead of him in heavy fog. It was the wrong decision. The semitrailer truck hit three brothers in Fairfax, Minn., as they stood outside the bus, killing one of the boys and seriously injuring the others as their mother watched.

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