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Hurricane Irene threatens islands, US East Coast

Hurricane Irene bore down on the southeastern Bahamas Tuesday as the category one storm churned on a track that could see it slam the US mainland later in the week. Forecasters who downgraded Irene, now packing winds of 90 miles (150 kilometers) per hour, said it could still become a…

Moody’s cuts Japan debt rating

Major ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Japan’s sovereign debt rating by one notch Wednesday, putting fresh pressure on the country’s political leaders to repair its finances. Moody’s said it was cutting Japan’s government bond rating to Aa3 from Aa2, citing the “large budget deficits and the build-up in Japanese…

Vice President Biden blasts ‘repugnant’ China policies

WASHINGTON — Under fire from angry Republicans, US Vice President Joe Biden’s office has said that he firmly opposes “repugnant” Chinese population control practices like “forced abortion and sterilization.” “The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization,” Biden spokeswoman Kendra…

Nuts-and-soy diet more effective than low-fat diet: study

WASHINGTON — People who ate a diet rich in foods that lower cholesterol, such as nuts, soy, avocado, olive oil and oats, saw a bigger drop in cholesterol than people on a low-fat diet, said a US study on Tuesday. After six months of eating a diet that specifically included…

Congressman Kucinich: NATO must account for Libyan deaths

WASHINGTON — A US lawmaker fiercely opposed to NATO’s role in the Libya conflict called Tuesday for the alliance’s military chiefs to be held to account under international law for the deaths of Libyan civilians. “Otherwise we will have witnessed the triumph of a new international gangsterism,” Democratic Representative Dennis…

Chavez proclaims solidarity with Gaddafi

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared Tuesday that he will continue to recognize only Moamer Kadhafi as the legitimate leader of Libya, despite signs the regime is likely in its last throes. In Libya, Chavez said, there is “only one government, the one led by Moamer Kadhafi,” the Venezuelan…

Why East Coast earthquakes travel so far

WASHINGTON — A rare 5.8 earthquake that rattled the eastern United States on Tuesday was felt over a wide area from Toronto, Canada down to Georgia due to the hard, brittle quality of the ground, experts said. The quake that struck mid-afternoon near Richmond, Virginia was the strongest in the…

Stocks rally on hopes of economic growth

NEW YORK — US stocks surged strongly on Tuesday, boosted by growing hopes the US Federal Reserve will offer new stimulus measures to kick-start a sluggish economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average packed on 322.11 points (2.97 percent) to finish at 11,176.76. The broader S&P 500 leaped 38.53 points (3.43…

Facebook makes sharing more selective

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Tuesday announced it is rolling out improvements aimed at letting users be more selective about who gets to see what they post at the world’s largest online social network. The move came in the face of a challenge from a freshly launched Google+ social network,…

Earth is home to 8.7 million species: study

WASHINGTON — Some 8.7 million different species exist on Earth, though a tiny amount of those have actually been discovered and catalogued, researchers said Tuesday. The count, described by the open access journal PLoS Biology in which it is presented as “the most precise calculation ever offered,” replaces previous estimates…

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