Reports from around the World

FROM: The Economist, AP, GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES and other sources:

We have always tried to give you "GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES" because of our many travels and friends around the world. We hope this is of interest to you.

Lebanon: Lebanon suffered its worst internal fighting since the 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, as its national army hit back against a Sunni Islamist group called Fatah al-Islam, which is considered close to al-Qaeda and was hunkered down in a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of the northern town of Tripoli. At least 80 people have so far been killed.

Palestine: As fighting between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip calmed down, militants from the Islamist movement Hamas and other groups stepped up rocket attacks on Israel. In the past fortnight, over 200 home-made rockets have been fired, killing one Israeli, while retaliatory Israeli air strikes have killed some 50 Palestinians, including civilians. This week Israel, responded with violence and arrested 32 Hamas leaders in the West Bank, including a government minister and the mayor of Nablus, the territory's biggest town.

The United Nations' nuclear inspectors confirmed that Iran had failed to meet another deadline to stop enriching uranium. The six countries leading the diplomacy at the UN—its Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany—are likely to start drafting a third resolution to tell Iran to suspend their nuclear activity or face tougher sanctions.

Algeria: Algeria's National Liberation Front, which does the bidding of the country's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, easily won a general election, but barely a third of the registered voters bothered to turn out.

Central African Republic: The International Criminal Court at The Hague launched an investigation into atrocities committed in 2002 and 2003 during civil strife in the Central African Republic, with its former president, Ange-Felix Patasse, among others, apparently in the court's sights.

Britain: British prosecutors and the British government called for the extradition of a former Russian KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi, on charges of murdering an ex-spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London last November. The Russian authorities angrily refused the request. Anglo-Russian relations hit a fresh low.

France: The new French government appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy took office, under his prime minister, Francois Fillon. It began preparations for a parliamentary election next month, which opinion polls suggest will produce a big majority for Mr Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party.

Turkey: Six people were killed and as many as 90 injured in a rush-hour suicide-bombing in the capital, Ankara. The police said the explosives used were similar to ones used before by the Kurdish PKK terrorist group.

Serbia: A Serbian court found 12 men guilty of the 2003 assassination of the pro-Western prime minister, Zoran Djindjic. The case was the first to be heard in Belgrade's special court for organised crime.

Romania: Romania's president, Traian Basescu, secured a big majority in a referendum against his own impeachment. Early parliamentary elections now look more likely.

USA: The whole Senate started to study the “breakthrough” compromise on immigration legislation reached between the White House and those senators who are crafting a plan. George Bush is pushing for a liberal bill that provides a guest-worker programme for illegal immigrants, and beefs up border security. However, Congress remains tepid in its support and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to reduce by half the number of proposed permits for illegal immigrants.

With the Democrats dropping their demand for a timetable for withdrawing troops, Congress pushed ahead with a new spending bill for military operations in Iraq.

The first nationwide study of Muslims in America found they were wealthier than Muslims in Europe and "largely assimilated.