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N. Korea agrees to nuclear program halt

The United States said Wednesday that North Korea has agreed to halt its nuclear program and allow back UN inspectors, in a surprise breakthrough soon after the communist state’s veteran leader died. Welcoming the progress, President Barack Obama’s administration said it would move ahead on a long-mulled plan to deliver 240,000 metric tons of food aid to…

Israel troops ‘raid West Bank TV stations’

Israeli troops raided two Palestinian television stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah overnight, seizing computers and broadcasting equipment, employees told AFP on Wednesday. The Israeli military confirmed the raids, saying the stations targeted had been broadcasting illegally, a charge rejected by the Palestinian telecommunications minister. The two stations…

Nepal calls for help to settle Everest height

Nepal is appealing to international donors to help it finally settle a long-running dispute over the height of Mount Everest, a government official said. The world’s highest peak, which straddles Nepal and China, is usually attributed a height of 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) following an Indian survey in 1954, but…

U.S. drawing up new UN resolution on Syria

The United States is drawing up a new draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria demanding humanitarian access to protest cities where thousands have been killed, diplomats said Tuesday. If put to a vote it would be the third time Western nations have tried to get a Security Council resolution…

UK’s largest union threatens Olympic walk-out

Britain’s largest trade union on Tuesday warned it would consider staging industrial action during this year’s London Olympic Games, threatening travel chaos for visitors. Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey told the Guardian newspaper that the scale of the government’s public spending cuts meant that the showpiece games, which begin…

Central American drug violence surges as cartels move south

Drug-related violence has surged to “alarming and unprecedented” levels in Central America as Mexican drug cartels have shifted their operations, a UN report said Tuesday. The move “has resulted in increased levels of violence, kidnapping, bribery torture and homicide” in Central America, the annual report by the International Narcotics Control…

Top French court strikes down Armenian genocide law

PARIS — France’s top court ruled Tuesday that a law backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to punish denial of the Armenian genocide was unconstitutional as it infringed on freedom of expression. Turkey welcomed the ruling — but Sarkozy, whose right-wing party had put forward the bill, swiftly vowed to draft…

Large U.S. public relations firm hired to smear Bahrain opposition

By Justin Elliott / ProPublica Earlier this month, a group of three young Bahrainis arrived in Washington to talk about reform in the small Persian Gulf nation, which has been rocked by Arab Spring protests for the last year. The delegation, including an NGO worker and a tech entrepreneur, both…

Fukushima contamination ‘chronic and lasting’: French agency

PARIS — Radioactive contamination levels from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have fallen sharply since the accident but will be “chronic and lasting” for many years, a French watchdog said Tuesday. “The initial contamination linked to the accident has greatly declined,” Didier Champion, crisis manager at the Institute for Radiological…

Chavez surgery in Cuba said to be successful

HAVANA — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in good condition Tuesday after surgeons in Cuba removed a lesion from the pelvic area where they cut out a cancerous tumor last year, Vice President Elias Jaua said. “The diagnosed pelvic lesion was totally extracted,” said Jaua, adding that that “surrounding tissue”…

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