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Merkel’s party gets only 26% in regional German election

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffered a severe defeat Sunday in a pivotal German state vote likely to award her main rivals a major boost in their bid to soften her austerity drive in Europe. Around 16 months before national elections, the snap poll in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s…

Mexican police find 49 bodies in north: officials

MONTERREY, Mexico — Mexican police said Sunday they had found 49 mutilated bodies dumped in black plastic bags near the northern city of Monterrey, in an apparent flare up of brutal drug violence. A spokesperson for the state of Nuevo Leon told AFP that 49 bodies had been counted after…

Spanish police clears ‘indignants’ from Madrid’s square

MADRID — Spanish police arrested 18 people early on Sunday as they cleared out Madrid’s central square of “indignant” activists who had spent the night as part of demonstrations to mark a year since the start of a global protest movement. The police moved in on the Puerta del Sol…

Top Afghan peace negotiator shot dead in Kabul

KABUL — A senior Afghan peace negotiator and close ally of President Hamid Karzai was shot dead Sunday, dealing a major blow to Kabul’s efforts to broker peace with Taliban insurgents. Arsala Rahmani, a former minister in the Taliban regime, was a “key negotiator” in the High Peace Council (HPC)…

North Korea warned amid fears of nuclear bomb test

BEIJING — China, Japan and South Korea warned North Korea Sunday they will not tolerate further nuclear tests, the South Korean president said, amid fears that Pyongyang is preparing a third atomic blast. Lee Myung-Bak made the remark after talks in Beijing with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime…

Bahrain extends detention of tweeting activist

DUBAI — Bahrain has extended the detention of rights activist Nabeel Rajab for participating in a January anti-government rally, his lawyer said on Sunday, after he was arrested over tweets deemed insulting to the government. Rajab was detained earlier this month for releasing tweets deemed insulting to the government, but…

NATO a step closer to getting out of Afghan war

KABUL — NATO took a step closer to getting out of the Afghan war on Sunday as the Kabul government announced local forces would take over control of security in a large new slice of the country. In the third phase of a five-tranche military transition process, 122 more districts…

Ugandan army captures top rebel LRA commander

ENTEBBE, Uganda — Uganda’s army has captured a top commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a spokesman said Sunday. “We are going to see a captured top commander,” army spokesman Felix Kulayigye told AFP, shortly before reporters were flown on a military aircraft to see the rebel. The…

Social media’s impact on kids ‘merits big debate’

WASHINGTON — Facebook’s big stock offering on Wall Street must be followed by an intensive debate on Main Street about social media’s powerful impact on children, an expert on the topic says. Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco think tank focusing on media and families, said…

Palestinian president warns of ‘national disaster’ over hunger strikers

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned on Sunday of a “national disaster” if any of the 1,550 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails were to die. Abbas spoke as two of the hunger strikers, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, entered their 75th day without eating,…

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