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Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon up 15 percent

BRASILIA — Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon increased by 15 percent during the past 12 months, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said. From July 2010 to July 2011 the vast South American rainforest lost 2,654 square kilometers (1,649 square miles) of vegetation in the states of Mato Grosso and…

World population will reach 7 billion this year: study

PARIS — The world population will reach seven billion later this year, with increases in the number of people in Africa off-setting birth rate drops elsewhere, according to a new French study published Thursday. Looking much further ahead, the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) predicts a continuing rise in…

Iraq’s Sadr warns of ‘war’ if U.S. presence extended

NAJAF, Iraq — A radical anti-US Shiite cleric warned of “war” if US forces stayed in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, in a brief statement viewed on Wednesday. Moqtada al-Sadr did not give any further details in the written reply to a follower’s question, released by his…

Libyan rebels plot route to democracy

BENGHAZI, Libya — Libya’s rebel leaders have set out a fresh plan to transform the country from autocracy to a fully blown democracy, in a roadmap that could help define the country for decades to come. The draft 14-page “constitutional declaration,” obtained by AFP on Wednesday, plots a path —…

At least 10 dead in Syria amid sweeping arrests

DAMASCUS — Security forces on Wednesday killed at least 10 people and made sweeping arrests, activists said, as Western and Arab countries sought a special UN session on Syria’s crackdown on dissent. President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, met with the central committee of the ruling Baath party, in power since 1963,…

Top Met officers cleared over hacking scandal

LONDON — Britain’s police watchdog on Wednesday cleared the country’s former top officer of misconduct over an investigation by his force into phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid. Paul Stephenson quit as head of London’s Metropolitan Police last month amid evidence of the force’s links to Rupert…

HRW accuses Egypt military of silencing critics

CAIRO — Human Rights Watch accused Egypt’s military on Thursday of escalating a crackdown on critics, after it decided to try an activist for insulting the ruling generals. Asmaa Mahfouz, an activist and blogger involved in the uprising earlier this year that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, will be tried by…

James Murdoch admits News Corp. paid off convicted criminal

The son of Rupert Murdoch has admitted in a letter to British lawmakers that he authorized large payments to a convicted criminal, seemingly in exchange for his silence about his company’s activities. Under questioning by members of Parliament last month, James Murdoch, CEO of News International, said he was not…

Giant South American rodent spotted in California

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A giant South American rodent weighing at least 100 pounds has been spotted at a California waste-water treatment facility, but has since disappeared in the brush, a wildlife official said on Tuesday. The animal was identified as a capybara, which is the world’s largest rodent, and…

Sydney bomb threat schoolgirl relieved at arrest

A Sydney schoolgirl who spent 10 hours with what she thought was a bomb chained around her neck said Wednesday she was “very relieved” a man had been arrested over the bizarre incident. Madeleine Pulver, 18, became a global news story two weeks ago when a masked man entered her…

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