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South Sudan rebels say closing in on oil fields

Rebels in South Sudan said Thursday they were closing in on key oil fields and two state capitals, predicting an imminent collapse of the government and a "bloodbath". A statement from the rebel's spokesman, General Lul Ruai Koang, said forces battling President Salva Kiir captured the town of Renk, close to the border with Sudan, on Wednesday and were advancing on the Paloich oil fields.

Korean officials feel heat of ferry tragedy

In the hothouse atmosphere of anger and grief triggered by South Korea's ferry tragedy, the slightest misstep or ill-timed remark by any official can carry career-ending consequences. The heavy death toll, and the fact that so many of those who died were children, have fuelled a desire for retribution that has taken on a distinctly anti-establishment flavour. Aside from obvious targets like the captain and crew and the ferry owners, public anger has been directed at pretty much anyone in a position of power or influence.

Californians overwhelmingly approve new education standards: poll

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Most Californians support dramatic changes set to take hold in public education, including funneling more money to schools with disadvantaged students and implementing rigorous national standards known as the common core curriculum, a new poll shows.

Explosion, fire at natural gas pipeline hub forces evacuation of small southwest Wyoming town

OPAL, Wyo. - A small town in southwest Wyoming was evacuated Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub. There were no reports of injuries. The gas has been shut off, but people who were in Opal, about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, went to an area about 3 miles outside of town as a precaution, said Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik. The town has about 95 residents.

China tells officials to fly discount on government travel

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has ordered officials to buy discount airfares for business trips, as part of Beijing's campaign to crack down on wasteful government spending. The new rules ban officials from travelling on full-price tickets and force domestic airlines to offer discounts of at least 12 percent. Government employees are also required to take domestic carriers as much as possible when traveling abroad, according to the rules jointly released by the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Administration of China on Tuesday.

Vermont leading US in campaign to require GMO labeling; bill wins lawmakers approval

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont could likely be the first state in the country to require labels on genetically modified foods, under a bill approved by both legislative chambers and favoured by the governor. The House voted 114-30 on Wednesday to support the bill, which would require the GMO labels on produce and processed foods and which carries a maximum civil penalty for violators of $1,000 per day per product.

Imperial pomp starts Obama's Japan visit

Barack Obama inspected the guard at a pomp-filled ceremony with Emperor Akihito Thursday, kicking off the formal proceedings of the first state visit to Japan by a US president in nearly two decades, at a time of nervousness in Asia. In the grounds of Tokyo's sprawling Imperial Palace, Obama strode in bright spring sunshine as he greeted a line of dignitaries.

Mexico's America Movil inks deal for control of Telekom Austria

Vienna, Apr 23 (EFE).- Mexico's America Movil and Austrian state holding company ÖIAG signed a shareholder pact Wednesday that gives them joint control over Telekom Austria. After 12 hours of deliberations and a long wait due to lack of a quorum, ÖIAG's supervisory board gave the green light here Wednesday for an agreement with the telecommunications giant controlled by Mexican multi-billionaire Carlos Slim. The accord was then signed by two representatives from ÖIAG and two from America Movil's wholly owned subsidiary Carso Telecom, Austrian news agency APA reported.

McDonald's restaurants put foreign worker program on hold, conducts audit

VICTORIA - McDonald's Canada says temporary foreign workers are a necessary part of the fast-food chain's business model, but its use of the federal jobs initiative is now on hold until the company satisfies itself and Canadians that it doesn't abuse the program. Stung by recent criticism of its use of temporary foreign workers, McDonald's senior vice-president of human resources Len Jillard said Wednesday that the program is being halted while an audit by a third party determines if there have been violations or abuse of workers — foreign or Canadian.

Students in some B.C. school districts lose recess on first day of job action

VANCOUVER - Recess was cancelled in about a dozen school districts across B.C., as the province's 41,000 public-school teachers started limited job action. Wednesday morning began with members of the BC Teachers' Federation taking Stage 1 administrative action, refusing, in part, to supervise students outside regular class hours.
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