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Japanese cabinet was warned of Fukishima meltown

Top Japanese cabinet ministers were warned of possible nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima hours after the tsunami hit last March, government papers have revealed, despite repeatedly denying the risk in public. A summary of a government meeting held about four hours after a giant earthquake sent huge waves crashing into the…

Syria pounds protest city hours before Kofi Annan visit

Syrian troops heavily shelled the northwestern protest city of Idlib early Saturday, in an apparent prelude to a ground assault just hours before the scheduled arrival of international peace envoy Kofi Annan, a watchdog and an activist said. “It’s the heaviest bombardment since troop reinforcements were sent to Idlib earlier…

Moody’s declares Greece to be in default on its debt

WASHINGTON — Moody’s declared Greece in default on its debt Friday after Athens carved out a deal with private creditors for a bond exchange that will write off 107 billion euros ($140 billion) of its debt. Moody’s pointed out that even as 85.8 percent of the holders of Greek-law bonds…

‘Years’ for Japan communities to rebuild: Red Cross

Communities in Japan destroyed by the tsunami are years away from being righted, the Red Cross warned Friday, with many of the displaced stuck in temporary housing for a long time to come. “What has been achieved in a year is extraordinary,” Patrick Fuller, communications manager for the International Federation…

Saudi police break up protest at women’s campus: report

Saudi authorities have ordered a probe after more than 50 women students were hurt when security forces dispersed a campus protest this week, media and a local official said on Friday. On Wednesday members of the religious police and law enforcement officers used water cannons to break up a sit-in…

Russia opposes ‘unbalanced’ new UN draft on Syria

Russia said Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” UN draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels. “We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text…

China’s rights record worsened in 2011: group

China’s human rights record worsened in 2011, making it the most repressive year in a decade, after Beijing launched a crackdown following protests across the Arab world, a group said Friday. Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in its annual report on rights activists in China that 2011 was…

Greece clinches landmark debt swap

Greece said on Friday it had clinched a “historic” debt swap, opening the way for an urgent second bailout to save the country from bankruptcy and the eurozone from a new crisis. Private creditors tendered bonds amounting to 83.5 percent of debt covered by a deal to cancel half the…

S.Africa court dismisses Wal-Mart takeover challenge

A South African court cleared the way on Friday for the world’s top retailer Wal-Mart to take its first foothold in Africa by dismissing a government bid to set aside its $2.2 billion takeover of local chain Massmart. The case is seen as a bellwether for foreign investment in South…

Russia probes ‘arson’ deaths of 7 children

Police opened a murder investigation on Friday after alleged arson killed a couple and seven children during a house fire in a village near the central Russian city of Perm. “According to the preliminary results of an examination of the scene, the cause of the fire was arson,” the Russian…

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