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North Korea threatens nuclear strike, UN expands sanctions

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS - North Korea threatens United States with pre-emptive nuclear strike, raising level of rhetoric just before U.N. Security Council approves new sanctions against reclusive country. (KOREA-NORTH/ (WRAPUP 2, PIX, TV), moved, by Jack Kim and Louis Charbonneau, 1,083 words)

+ See also:

- KOREA-NORTH/UN-SANCTIONS (UPDATE 2, PIX, TV), moved, by Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols, 732 words

- KOREA-NORTH/DRILLS (UPDATE 3, PIX, TV), moved, by Jack Kim and Louis Charbonneau, 756 words

Obama hosts Ryan lunch in new outreach to Republicans on budget

WASHINGTON - President Obama expands his fledgling search for Republican allies on possible deficit-reduction bargain when he hosts lunch for Paul Ryan, one of House of Representatives' leading fiscal conservatives. (USA-FISCAL/ (UPDATE 2, PIX), moved, by Richard Cowan and Susan Heavey, 766 words)

+ See also:

- USA-FISCAL/BOEHNER, moved, 354 words

At Chavez's coffin, Venezuelans vow more revolution

CARACAS - Saluting, clenching fists and making Roman Catholic sign of cross over Hugo Chavez's open casket, Venezuelans crowd to see their deceased leader one last time and pledge that his socialist revolution will not die. (VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ/ (UPDATE 2, PIX, TV, GRAPHIC), moved, by Patricia Velez and Terry Wade, 1,045 words)

Syria rebels want troop pullback before freeing UN men

BEIRUT - Rebels holding 21 U.N. peacekeepers near Golan Heights in southern Syria say government forces must stop their bombardment and leave area before their "guests" can be freed, rebel activist say. (SYRIA-CRISIS/REBELS (UPDATE 3, TV, PIX), moved, by Dominic Evans and Oliver Holmes, 1,015 words)

+ See also:

- SYRIA-CRISIS/GERMANY, moved, 446 words

Kenyan presidential hopeful challenges count in tense vote

NAIROBI - Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga's campaign team says some of results of Sunday's election are doctored and call for vote count to be halted, remarks that could inflame largely peaceful poll. (KENYA-ELECTIONS/ (UPDATE 4, PIX, TV), moved, by Edmund Blair and Richard Lough, 890 words)


Bin Laden son-in-law arrested in Jordan is brought to New York

WASHINGTON - Son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who served as al Qaeda's spokesman is arrested in Jordan and then brought to New York in operation led by Jordanian authorities and FBI, U.S. government sources say. (USA-MILITANT/(UPDATE 1), moved, by Mark Hosenball, 538 words)

U.S. Senate committee begins action on gun bills

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee backs President Obama's call to crack down on illegal trafficking of firearms, marking first votes in Congress on gun-control since school massacre last year prompted calls for action. (USA-GUNS/SENATE (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Thomas Ferraro, 651 words)

Group pushing Obama agenda to identify donors who give at least $250

WASHINGTON - Organizing for Action, nonprofit advocacy group formed after 2012 election to help push causes backed by President Obama, says it plans to disclose names of donors who give group at least $250. (USA-LOBBYING/OFA, expect by 2200 GMT/5 PM ET, by Samuel P. Jacobs, 800 words)


Cuba to open state-run wholesaler for private companies

HAVANA - Cuba establishes state-run wholesale company to sell food products, industrial and other consumer goods to private companies and state sector, step aimed at meeting key demand of local entrepreneurs. (CUBA-REFORM/WHOLESALE, moved, by Marc Frank, 506 words)


Egyptian youths hurl stones at police in Port Said protest

PORT SAID - Protesters wearing surgical masks, scarves and hoods clash with police wielding tear gas as violence in Egyptian city of Port Said enters its fifth day. (EGYPT-VIOLENCE/PORTSAID, moved, by Yusri Mohamed, 366 words)

Iraq parliament passes budget despite Kurdish boycott

BAGHDAD - Iraqi parliament passes country's 2013 budget despite boycott by Kurdish members in protest at amount allotted to pay oil companies operating in autonomous north, lawmakers say. (IRAQ-BUDGET/PARLIAMENT (UPDATE 2), moved, by Aseel Kami, 444 words)

Bedouin release two Britons seized in Egypt's Sinai

CAIRO - Bedouin gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula release British Exxon Mobil executive and his wife who were kidnapped on road from Cairo to beach resort of Sharm el Sheikh, company says. (EGYPT-KIDNAPPING/ (UPDATE 3), moved, 305 words)


Vatican struggles to contain pre-conclave leaks

VATICAN CITY - Vatican struggles to contain leaks from its closed-door preparations for next papal election, highlighting gap between Catholic Church's traditional secrecy and the 24/7 information age. (PAPAL-SUCCESSION/ moved, by Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor, 800 words)

Sex abuse: the scandal the Catholic Church cannot shake

VATICAN CITY - Colm O'Gorman, now 46, was only 14 when Father Sean Fortune began abusing him sexually. His story is only one of many human tragedies in one of greater scandals ever to hit Catholic Church, damaging curtailed papacy of Pope Benedict and posing huge challenge to whomever succeeds him. (POPE-SUCCESSION/ABUSE, moved, by Naomi O'Leary, 1,300 words)

Dancer says did not want acid used in Bolshoi attack

MOSCOW - Dancer accused of organising attack that nearly blinds Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director admits he wanted him beaten up, but says he was shocked when he heard his face was splashed with acid. (RUSSIA-BOLSHOI/ (UPDATE 4, TV, PIX), moved, by Maria Tsvetkova, 1,029 words)

German Green wants Cyprus aid tied to island dispute

BERLIN - Leader of Germany's opposition Greens party says Europe should make bailout for Cyprus conditional on reviving talks about reunification of island divided since 1974. (GERMANY-CYPRUS/DISPUTE, moved, by Andreas Rinke, 550 words)

German Pirates' party policy chief quits, support shrivels

BERLIN - Leader of Germany's Pirates says he will resign after infighting tarnishes image of anti-establishment party that sinks from being country's third most popular to virtual has-been. (GERMANY-POLITICS/PIRATES, moved, by Sarah Marsh, 300 words)

INTERVIEW-New Bulgarian party opposed to coalition deals

SOFIA - Leader of new pro-business Bulgarian political party says she will not support any coalition after elections in May, making extended period without government more likely for EU's poorest country. (BULGARIA-GOVERNMENT/CORRUPTION (UPDATE 1, INTERVIEW), moved, by Tsvetelia Tsolova, 619 words)


Russian scientists may have found new life under Antarctic ice

MOSCOW - Russian scientists believe they discover new life forms sealed off for millions of years in subglacial lake deep under Antarctic ice, RIA news agency reports. (RUSSIA-ANTARCTICA/, moved, 567 words)