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China calls on U.S. to not take sides in territorial disputes

BEIJING (Reuters) - China called on the United States on Wednesday to respect its promises not to take sides in territorial disputes, after U.S. President Barack Obama said that islands at the center of a dispute between Japan and China fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks at a daily news briefing. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Writing by Sui-Lee Wee)

Paying for giant Nile dam itself, Ethiopia thwarts Egypt but takes risks

File photo of the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz regionBy Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile's waters, and may help transform one of the world's poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub. By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardize Ethiopia's dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025. The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year.


Report on CIA interrogations shadows Gitmo trials

FILE - In this April 3, 2014, file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, as the panel votes to approve declassifying part of a secret report on Bush-era interrogations of terrorism suspects. The forthcoming report on the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's forthcoming report on the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.


Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

01 a.m. Wednesday. He was sentenced to death for killing 62-year-old Grace Lewis in 1993 and was sentenced to life in prison for killing her 67-year-old husband. (AP Photo/Missouri Department of Corrections)BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.


Rhino horns worth $5.2 mln stolen in South Africa

Rhino horn stock piles worth over $5.2 million have been stolen from a South African game park office, the raided tourist agency said on Tuesday, in the first known theft of its kind. Thieves on Monday broke into the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and cut into a strong box, making off with 112 pieces of rhino horn, weighing 80,135 kilograms. "It's the first time there has been a break in at our premises, it was obviously well planned," the parks' spokeswoman Kholofelo Nkambule said. Poaching rhinos for their horns is a growing problem in South Africa and a lucrative business for organised criminal networks but it is unusual for thieves to target stock piles.

South Sudan peace talks delayed as rebels deny massacre

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei StateBy Carl Odera and Michelle Nichols NAIROBI/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - South Sudan peace talks were delayed again on Tuesday as United Nations peacekeepers battle to protect some 22,000 civilians at a base in Bentiu, where dead bodies lined the dusty streets after an ethnic massacre during rebels' seizure of the oil town. The U.N. base, guarded by 500 peacekeepers, has come under rocket fire and the number of civilians seeking refuge there has quadrupled since the start of April, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. The United Nations accused the rebels of hunting down men, women and children a week ago in a hospital, church and mosque in the capital of the oil-producing Unity state and then killing them based on ethnicity and nationality. He also accused the U.N. mission of "cheap propaganda" to win favor with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.


Fugitive killed in Oregon had 'moveable dungeon'

In this combo made from photos taken Jan. 21, 2014, left, and Nov. 6, 2013, and supplied by the Clackamas County Sheriff's office shows Kelly Vern Swodoba. A grand jury transcript released Monday, April 21, 2014, reveals that Swodoba, killed last month in a gunfight with Portland police, had stalked over a dozen girls, rating them by number, and prepared his van as a "moveable dungeon'' or "torture chamber'' with chains mounted to the floor, ropes, zip ties, a box of latex gloves, and teen pornography. (AP Photo/Clackamas County Sheriff)PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a man fatally shot by a Portland officer last month had been stalking young women in a van that he converted into a "moveable dungeon" with chains and handcuffs after one of his victims managed to escape from it in January.


Libya starts voter registration for general elections

By Ahmed Elumami TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya will start registering voters for general elections, officials said on Tuesday, in the first concrete step indicating a vote will take place later this year. In February, the Libyan parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), agreed to hold early elections, in an apparent effort to assuage Libyans frustrated at political chaos nearly three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Voter registration will start from Wednesday, Emad al-Shadi al-Saih, head of the elections commission, told reporters. The GNC is deadlocked between Islamists and nationalists, compounding a sense of chaos as Libya's fledgling army tries to assert itself against unruly ex-rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants.

Ivory Coast ex-rebel profiting from banned diamond trade: U.N. experts

By Joe Bavier ABID (Reuters) - A senior Ivory Coast army officer is breaking a diamond embargo and may be using profits to buy arms, U.N. experts have found, dealing a potentially embarrassing blow to government efforts to have the ban lifted. Ivory Coast is the only country in the world still subject to a U.N.-imposed ban on diamond exports but it received a clean bill of health in November from the Kimberley Process - the body tasked with preventing the sale of so called "blood diamonds" from fuelling armed conflicts. But U.N. experts, charged with monitoring compliance with a sanctions regime including an arms embargo, said diamonds are being exported from Ivory Coast in breach of the ban. "The measures and restrictions imposed by the (Security) Council ... still do not prevent the illicit trafficking of Ivorian rough diamonds," read the report released on Tuesday.

Rwandan president says he is not ready to rule out third term

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis AbabaBy Richard Valdmanis BOSTON (Reuters) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Tuesday it was too early to say whether he will seek a third term as head of the east African state, adding "whatever will happen, we'll have an explanation." Articles in pro-government newspapers in recent years have raised the prospect of him staying on after his mandate expires in 2017, a move that would anger his critics and require a change to the constitution. Whatever will happen, we’ll have an explanation." He was responding to a student's question about how he imagined his political role in Rwanda after his term ends. He accused the "international community" of destabilizing neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo by allowing people who committed the Rwandan genocide to later escape into Congo's eastern hills and giving them guns. Millions have died in eastern Congo, home to myriad rebel groups, since the end of Rwanda's genocide.


Mourners flock to funeral of Myanmar pro-democracy hero

Members of National League for democracy (NLD) prepare a memorial ceremony for Win Tin next to his portrait in Yangon on April 21, 2014Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday to mark the funeral of Win Tin, a former journalist and giant of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement, in an outpouring of grief for one of the country's best loved champions of freedom. A memorial ceremony in a church in the nation's commercial hub Yangon was a sea of blue as activists and political figures donned the prison uniform colour in tribute to Win Tin, who was Myanmar's longest-serving political detainee under the former junta. The co-founder of Myanmar's opposition party along with Aung San Suu Kyi, Win Tin continued to wear a blue shirt after his release in 2008. He died in hospital in Yangon early Monday at the age of 84 after suffering a range of health problems.


White House "horrified" by massacre of hundreds in South Sudan

The White House on Tuesday called the massacre of hundreds of civilians in South Sudan an abomination and called for an end to the cycle of violence there. The United Nations said on Monday that rebels slaughtered hundreds of civilians when they seized the South Sudan oil hub of Bentiu, hunting down men, women and children who had sought refuge in a hospital, mosque and Catholic church. Rebel troops overran Bentiu, the capital of the oil producing Unity State, on Tuesday. Rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied responsibility for the slaughter, blaming government forces for the killings More than 1 million people have fled their homes since December when fighting erupted in the world's youngest country between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked vice president, Riek Machar.

Serendipity aids Egypt in struggle to recover stolen heritage

By Stephen Kalin and Tom Perry CAIRO (Reuters) - When French Egyptologist Olivier Perdu saw a fragment of a pharaonic statue on display in a Brussels gallery last year, he assumed it was a twin of an ancient masterpiece he had examined in Egypt a quarter of a century earlier.     The reality was an even more remarkable coincidence: the fragment was part of the very same artefact - a unique 6th century B.C. statue hewn from pale green stone - that Perdu had received special permission to study in Cairo in 1989.     The statue, a 29 cm-high (11 inches) representation of a man wearing a pharaonic headdress and holding a shrine to Osiris, the god of the afterlife, was smashed by looters who broke into the Cairo Museum during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.     Its top portion had been missing since then.     "I was just astonished," Perdu told Reuters. "Through examining all the stains and irregularities I could conclude that it was indeed the same piece.     "What I had between my hands in Brussels was the object that I had studied in the Cairo museum in 1989."     Thanks to his chance encounter, the piece excavated in 1858 has found its way back to Egypt.

FedEx sued over deadly California bus crash

FILE - In this Thursday, April, 10, 2014, file photo, massive flames engulf a tractor-trailer and a tour bus just after they collide on Interstate 5, near Orland, Calif. The mother of a 17-year-old honors student who was among 10 people killed in the fiery Northern California bus crash sued FedEx on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, alleging that its trucks have a history of catching fire. (AP Photo/Jeremy Lockett, File)LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mother of a 17-year-old honors student who was among 10 people killed in a fiery Northern California bus crash sued FedEx on Tuesday, alleging that its trucks have a history of catching fire.


Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

A plane takes off at Mineta San Jose International Airport, Monday, April 21, 2014, in San Jose, Calif. A 15-year-old boy scrambled over a fence at the airport, crossed a tarmac and climbed into a jetliner's wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii, Sunday. FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu said the teen did not remember the flight from San Jose. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.


Pope John XXIII launched Vatican II and then some

FILE - In this April 15, 1963 file photo, Pope John XXIII sits at his working desk in his studio in a IX century tower in the Vatican gardens. In background the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. The Pontiff found the tower - once a fortress and later the Vatican observatory - abandoned and in decay. He liked it, particularly for the beautiful view from its covered terrace, embracing a great part of Rome and the surrounding country, in clear weather as far as the sea, distant about 25 kilometers (16 miles). He had it repaired and spends many days working in the studio he has had arranged there. While much of the focus of Sunday's dual canonization will be on Pope John Paul II's globe-trotting, 26-year papacy and his near-record sprint to sainthood, many older Catholics will be celebrating the short but historic pontificate of the "Good Pope," John XXIII. (AP Photo/Luigi Felici, File)VATICAN CITY (AP) — On the night of Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII did something so natural that it's astonishing it was so revolutionary at the time. He came to the window of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and spoke to thousands of candle-bearing faithful below — not in the arcane, scripted words of pontiffs past but in those of a father and pastor looking out for his flock.


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