RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian authorities raided warehouses in five states Wednesday and arrested nine people accused of smuggling rare birds for sale in Europe and the United States. Police also seized some 2,000 birds awaiting shipment during the raid, the first in Brazil to uncover an international wildlife smuggling ring, the government said.


RICHMOND, British Columbia — Canada's prime minister said Wednesday he would "not be dictated to" by the United States, standing firm in his increasingly testy exchange of angry rhetoric with American officials. Washington has called on Prime Minister Paul Martin to calm the rhetoric against his southern neighbor — a favorite pastime of many Canadians — and accused him of lambasting the United States in an effort to win votes in federal elections next month.


BEIJING — China will begin an effort to send astronauts to the moon in about 2017, with a landing some time after that, official media said Wednesday, citing a senior official of the lunar probe program. The moon landing would cap a lunar program begun in 2004 with the launch of a probe.


BOGOTA — The U.S. Navy called off its search Wednesday for three sailors whose helicopter crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Colombia during anti-drug operations the day before. The SH-60B Seahawk helicopter went down early Tuesday while flying within sight of the frigate USS DeWert, which was its floating base, said Bill Austin, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Station at Mayport, Fla., the crew's home port.


LONDON — Investigators searched Wednesday for the cause of a massive explosion at one of Britain's largest fuel depots — including the possibility a tanker driver accidentally sparked the blaze. The chain reaction of explosions at the Buncefield oil depot early Sunday blackened skies as far away as France and triggered a blaze that burned for days. Forty-three people were injured.


GUATEMALA CITY — Recently uncovered documents from Guatemala's civil war show the national police director's office ordered the murders and disappearances of leftists, the country's human rights ombudsman said Wednesday. Sergio Morales said in an interview with The Associated Press that investigators have deciphered coded files from the director's office that directly link police to killings during the 36-year war. The numeric code "revealed very diverse instructions, but on occasion can be linked to political topics, illegal detentions, forced disappearances and executions," Morales said.


TOKYO — Japan's space agency will delay until 2010 the return of a star-crossed probe sent to collect samples from an asteroid because a thruster problem put the vehicle into an unexpected spin, an agency official said Wednesday. The Hayabusa probe, now hovering several miles off the surface of the Itokawa asteroid, originally was expected to return to Earth in June 2007, said Yashiro Kiyotaka, public affairs director at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. The agency had until Dec. 10 to start the return procedure, but a thruster problem sent the probe into a spin, causing it to lose contact with JAXA, Yashiro said.


AMMAN — Jordan's new prime minister vowed Wednesday to wage a "pre-emptive" war against Islamic extremists, saying his government planned to fight terrorism by reforming religious teaching and granting greater freedom. Speaking to parliament, Marouf al-Bakhit said the suicide bombers who killed 60 people in three hotels on Nov. 9 "only made us more determined to move forward in our pre-emptive war against terrorism and the 'takfiri' culture." 'Takfiri' is the ideology of militants who regard their Muslim opponents as infidels.


GENEVA — Illegal sales of caviar in Europe are endangering the survival of some sturgeon species, two conservation groups said. More than 25,000 pounds of illegal caviar were seized in Europe over the last five years, the World Wildlife Fund and Britain-based TRAFFIC, which monitors trade in wildlife, said in a statement released Thursday. Far more was sold on the street and in fine restaurants, the groups said.