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World datelines

Britain

LONDON — British police charged a 27-year-old man Friday in the failed attempt to bomb London's transit system last summer. Muhedin Ali was charged with helping one of the alleged July 21 bombers, Hussein Osman, evade arrest. Ali was the 17th person charged in the plot. The July 21 plot failed because the bombs failed to detonate. The targets were three subway trains and a bus.

Canada

MONTREAL — A Canadian woman who helped her son commit suicide as he struggled with the early stages of multiple sclerosis was sentenced on Friday to three years of probation. The judge warned that the sentence handed down to 60-year-old Marielle Houle should not set a precedent and noted the worst sentence Houle faces is living constantly with what she did. The maximum penalty for such a crime in Canada is 14 years.

Germany

BERLIN — Johannes Rau, the former German president who urged his country to open up to foreigners and promoted deeper ties with Israel, died Friday at age 75, his office said. No cause of death was given, but Rau had suffered from persistent health problems in recent years. During his 1999-2004 term as president, Rau paid particular attention to cementing Germany's ties with Israel, rooted in the countries' shared history of the Holocaust.

Georgia

TBILISI — Georgia struck a deal with Iran for emergency natural-gas supplies Friday, as the tiny U.S. ally suffered through its worst energy crisis in years and government officials accused Russia of waging an energy blockade. Dawn-to-dusk lines persisted in the capital Tbilisi for a second day, as desperate Georgians queued up for kerosene and firewood to heat their homes amid the largest snowfall in years.

Indonesia

JAKARTA — A magnitude-7.7 undersea earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia early Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There was no danger of a tsunami, and no injuries were reported.

Iran

U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday called on the United States to provide Iran with nuclear reactors and urged Tehran to declare a moratorium on enriching uranium for at least eight years. ElBaradei said in Davos, Switzerland, that amount of time would enable the country to earn the confidence of the international community that it was really interested in nuclear energy — not nuclear weapons.

Iraq

BAGHDAD — Two German engineers who were abducted by gunmen three days ago appeared in a videotape shown on Al-Jazeera satellite television on Friday, pleading with the German government to intervene on their behalf. In a grimly familiar tableau, the two men, one dressed in a sweatshirt and the other in a zippered jacket, were shown seated, speaking into the camera. The men's voices were not audible, as the video had no sound. Two men with machine guns stood behind them.

Mexico

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ — The leader of a farmers' group in Mexico's southern Chiapas state was convicted Friday in the slayings of eight peasants and sentenced to 37 years in prison. A court determined that Angel Hidalgo Espinosa was part of a group of armed men wearing ski masks who opened fire on the farmers four years ago over a land dispute near Venustiano Carranza, 60 miles south of the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Russia

MOSCOW — Russia's defense minister on Friday fired the head of a military academy where a brutal hazing incident resulted in a conscript having his legs and genitals amputated. Maj. Gen. Viktor Sidorov was also charged with abuse of office for concealing the crime, the chief military prosecutor said.

Venezuela

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the U.S. government an "immoral empire" and repeated accusations of spying Friday, threatening to arrest any American officials caught gathering intelligence on his military. Chavez's warning came hours after his vice president, Jose Vicente Rangel, accused officials at the U.S. Embassy of involvement in a spying case involving several Venezuelan naval officers who allegedly passed sensitive information to the Pentagon.