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Japan, India to cooperate on rare earth production

Japan has signed a memorandum of understanding with India to promote joint production of rare earth minerals, a move which will help reduce its reliance on China which controls most of the world’s supply. Under the memorandum signed Friday, the Japanese and Indian governments will support a joint project between…

Musicians blast bill to trim Pandora royalties

WASHINGTON — A group of 125 leading musicians is calling on the US Congress to kill a bill backed by online broadcaster Pandora that would slash royalties on Internet radio. The bill aims to equalize the royalty structure between Internet, cable and satellite radio. Pandora currently pays a higher percentage…

Petraeus tells Congress that Susan Rice was unaware of al-Qaida ties to Benghazi

David Petraeus, the former CIA director, told congressional hearings on Friday that he had always known a terrorist group had been involved in an attack in Benghazi that left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead. According to reports from members of Congress who attended the closed-door hearings, Petraeus…

U.S. gives ‘full backing’ to Israel while urging de-escalation of Gaza violence

The Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, says the US has given his government a free hand in its assault on Gaza as the Israeli cabinet ordered a large call up of military reserves, prompting fears of a ground invasion. The Palestinian delegation to Washington condemned the US response to…

Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley made several White House visits

WASHINGTON — Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley, the two women embroiled in the scandal that brought down CIA chief David Petraeus, visited the White House several times since 2009, a US official told AFP Friday. Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and former mistress, attended meetings on Afghanistan and Pakistan held at the…

Rep. McKeon: U.S. intel chief plans to declassify Benghazi video

WASHINGTON — The head of US intelligence intends to declassify parts of a video showing the deadly attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, according to a congressman briefed by him on Friday. Lawmakers in closed-door intelligence briefings this week saw a 45-minute video that included images from an…

New York bomb plotter Adis Medunjanin gets life in prison

NEW YORK — A US court sentenced a New York man to life in prison Friday for plotting to turn himself into a suicide bomb in the city’s subway as revenge for American attacks in Afghanistan. Brooklyn federal court sentenced Adis Medunjanin, 34, for his role in the 2009 conspiracy,…

Protester slaps Nepal’s Maoist leader in the face

KATHMANDU — The leader of Nepal’s 10-year Maoist insurgency was left shaken on Friday when a former supporter slapped the ex-guerilla across the face, smashing his glasses. Police dragged away 25-year-old Padam Kunwar during the angry confrontation with Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known as Prachanda, or the…

Obama calls for ‘tough compromises’ in fiscal cliff talks

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders vowed Friday to make difficult compromises on taxes and spending as they opened talks on dodging a looming fiscal cliff and trimming the US deficit. With only weeks to avoid steep automatic budget cuts and tax hikes that could send the country…

Gaza, an impoverished and besieged sliver of land

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The Gaza Strip, under fire from Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence campaign unleashed on Wednesday, is an impoverished and overpopulated enclave ruled by the Islamist group Hamas. Some 1.6 million Palestinians live in the cramped territory spread over 362 square kilometres (140 square miles) along…

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