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Black smoke signals no pope elected at first conclave vote

VATICAN CITY - Thick black smoke billows into night sky from Sistine Chapel's chimney, signalling inconclusive first vote in conclave to elect new pope at time of strife and scandal for Roman Catholic Church. (POPE-SUCCESSION/ (UPDATE 7, GRAPHICS, PIX, TV), moved, by Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullella, 971 words)

+ See also:

- POPE-SUCCESSION/WOMEN (TV), moved, by Catherine Hornby, 635 words

Republicans, Democrats present dueling deficit plans

WASHINGTON - Republicans and Democrats in U.S. Congress offer up competing visions for long-term deficit reduction with budget proposals that underscore difficulty Of achieving any bipartisan compromise. (USA-FISCAL/(WRAPUP 1), expect by 1930 GMT/3.30 PM ET, by Richard Cowan and David Lawder, 1,076 words)

USDA halts cattle inventory, milk reports due to budget cuts

WASHINGTON - Due to automatic budget cuts, U.S. Agriculture Department suspends publication of 10 statistical reports, including closely watched semiannual cattle inventory and monthly milk production reports for rest of fiscal year. (USA-AGRICULTURE/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 1945 GMT/3.45 PM ET, by Charles Abbott, 400 words)

Spy agencies say cyber attacks leading threat against U.S.

WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence leaders say for first time that cyber attacks and cyber espionage supplant terrorism as top security threat facing United States. (USA-THREATS (UPDATE 2), expect by 2000 GMT/4 PM ET, by Mark Hosenball and Patricia Zengerle, 755 words)

Kenya's Odinga seeks evidence from electoral commission

NAIROBI - Allies of Kenya's defeated presidential contender Raila Odinga file petition asking High Court to compel electoral commission and mobile operator Safaricom to release documents to bolster their claim vote was stolen. (KENYA-ELECTIONS/ (PIX), by James Macharia, 702 words)


Divided U.S. Senate panel votes for gun background checks

WASHINGTON - Divided U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee endorses President Obama's call to require criminal background checks for all gun buyers, yet it remains uncertain if it will become law. (USA-GUNS/CONGRESS (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, by Thomas Ferraro, 587 words)


Boosting financial literacy is good for business

TORONTO - While financial industry lobbies for more education in schools, growing complexity of products and demand for service from seniors, women and immigrants mean Canadian financial advisers need to spend as much time on teaching as selling products or offering investment advice. (CANADA-WEALTH/LITERACY, expect by 2100 GMT/4 PM ET, by Andrea Hopkins, 800 words)

Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer 'poisoning' accusation

CARACAS - Venezuela will set up formal inquiry into suspicions that late president Hugo Chavez's cancer was result of poisoning by his enemies abroad, government says. (VENEZUELA-ELECTION/ (UPDATE 1, PIX, TV), moved, by Andrew Cawthorne, 915 words)


U.S. spy chief says Syrian opposition remains disorganized

WASHINGTON - Forces seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Al Assad gain strength and territory, but Syrian opposition remains fragmented and is plagued by infusion of militant foreign fighters, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says. (USA-SYRIA/, moving shortly, by Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball, 489 words)


Greenlanders vote in election focused on mining, China

NUUK - Voters in Greenland's capital brave heavy snow and crowd into its one polling station in election which pits economic development against concerns over environment and Chinese influence. (GREENLAND-ELECTION/ (UPDATE 1, PIX), moved, by Alistair Scrutton, 686 words)

Bulgaria taps experience for interim government

SOFIA - New Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Marin Raikov pledges to retain fiscal discipline with cabinet of professionals that aims to maintain market confidence and placate protesters ahead of May 12 elections. (BULGARIA-GOVERNMENT/ (UPDATE 4), moved, by Tsvetelia Tsolova, 529 words)

Euro woes not over, says crisis-wary Bundesbank

FRANKFURT - Wary German central bank says it sets aside billions more euros against what it deems risky European Central Bank moves, and criticises France directly for "floundering" in its reform drives. (ECB-CRISIS/WEIDMANN (UPDATE 3, PIX, TV), moved, by Eva Kuehnen and Paul Carrel, 814 words)


Russia, U.S. tit for tat at United Nations on Sudan, South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS - United States and Russia trade swipes at U.N. Security Council over proposed statements on peace progress by Sudan and South Sudan with Russia's U.N. envoy accusing his U.S. rival of bizarre behavior and making outlandish claims. (SUDAN-UN/RUSSIA-USA, expect by 1945 GMT/3.45 PM ET, by Michelle Nichols, 699 words)


Scientists say Mars has ingredients for life

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Seven months after NASA's rover Curiosity lands on Mars to assess if planet most like Earth had ingredients for life, scientists have their answer: Yes. Analysis of powder drilled out from inside of rock that was once covered in water shows Gale Crater, at least, could have supported microbial life. (SPACE-MARS/ (PIX), expect by 1945 GMT/3.45 PM ET, by Irene Klotz, 500 words)