In Ireland, queen offers sympathy

DUBLIN, Ireland - Queen Elizabeth II made a powerful statement Wednesday night expressing "deep sympathy" to all who had suffered as a result of the troubled relations between England and Ireland.

She did not apologize for any British actions during the bitter conflicts between the two neighbors but said it was clear that mistakes were made. Guests were surprised, and delighted, when she opened her remarks by speaking in Gaelic, Ireland's official national language.

"To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy," she said at a state dinner hosted by Irish President Mary McAleese. "With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all."

The queen, whose visit has been highlighted by memorable scenes of friendship and forgiveness, emphasized the positive in the rest of her brief speech, saying that no one in past centuries could have imagined the bonds of friendship that now unite England and Ireland. - AP

Bin Laden hailed Mideast protests

WASHINGTON - Shortly before his death, Osama bin Laden recorded a message praising the Middle East protest movements and predicting that revolutions would spread across the region. The video was released to jihadist websites by al-Qaeda's media arm and was obtained and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

"I think that the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah," bin Laden said in the 12-minute message released online Thursday. The message was released as a video, but it contains only an audio track and a photo of the terrorist leader.

In the recording, bin Laden accused rulers of building themselves into idols and manipulating the media to stay in power. "So, what are you waiting for?" he implored listeners. "Save yourselves and your children, because the opportunity is here." He was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs on May 2. - AP

Auschwitz sign has been restored

WARSAW, Poland - The notorious sign spanning Auschwitz's main gate, which was stolen and cut into pieces in a 2009 heist, has been welded back together and restored almost to its previous condition, officials said Wednesday.

Conservation workers at the site of the former Nazi death camp said they had worked for nearly a year and a half photographing, analyzing, and finally welding back together the pieces of the badly damaged sign bearing the cynical Nazi slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free).

The theft - which occurred in December 2009 - shocked Holocaust survivors and others committed to preserving the Auschwitz-Birkenau site and the memory of the atrocities that Nazi Germany committed there. A Swedish man with neo-Nazi ties, Anders Hogstrom, was found guilty of instigating the theft and is jailed in his homeland.

- AP