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UN refugee chief to visit Iran for talks about Afghans

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres visits Iran on Monday for talks with officials on the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, the UNHCR said in a statement. The visit comes ahead of transition in Afghanistan, where a presidential election is due to take place in April and as US-led NATO forces prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014. "With the transition in Afghanistan in 2014, the need for humanitarian assistance may very well increase," said the statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Australia plan for drones to patrol borders

Australia plans to buy seven giant unmanned drones for Aus$3 billion (US$2.7 billion), potentially to help patrol its borders, a report said on Saturday. The unmanned aircraft, with the wingspan of a 737 passenger jet, would primarily be used by the military for spotting enemy ships and planes in a conflict. But they could also be deployed to detect illegal fishermen and asylum-seekers, who frequently enter Australian waters on rickety boats, usually setting sail from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, The Australian newspaper said.

Lawsuit challenges Alabama's ban on gay marriage

By Verna Gates BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - A civil rights group sued Alabama on Thursday on behalf of a gay man challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, arguing he should be able to claim the estate of his husband who died in a car crash. Paul Hard, an associate professor at a university in Montgomery, is seeking to be recognized as the beneficiary of proceeds in a wrongful death case, but Alabama does not recognize him as a surviving spouse. The couple married in Massachusetts.

S. Korea's currency 'more resilient' to global turbulence: Fed report

SEJONG, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's currency has been "more resilient" than that of other emerging countries to global financial volatility prompted by U.S. tapering of its stimulus program, a U.S. Federal Reserve report showed Wednesday. In the Monetary Policy Report submitted to Congress on Tuesday (local time), the Fed analyzed the financial stress and vulnerabilities of 15 emerging market economies and provided the "vulnerability index" for each country.

Sri Lanka arrests New Zealand-bound boat people

Sri Lanka's police arrested 75 would-be asylum seekers on Wednesday, including nine women and six children, who were trying to leave for New Zealand illegally by boat, police said. The group was arrested in the southern coastal town of Moragolla, the first large-scale arrest of nationals in months after Australia, long a favourite destination for Sri Lanka's refugees, tightened its borders. "These people were trying to leave illegally for New Zealand," a police statement said, adding that they would be taken before a magistrate later Wednesday.

New York to begin public hearings on IDs for undocumented immigrants

New York, Feb 11 (EFE).- The New York City Council's Committee on Immigration will hold public hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to provide municipal identity cards for undocumented foreigners. "During this process there will be audiences so that the community can speak about the need for that document. I have great faith in what we're going to learn in that process and what we'll gain by it," committee chair Carlos Menchaca told Efe.

New York to begin public hearings on IDs for undocumented immigrants

New York, Feb 11 (EFE).- The New York City Council's Committee on Immigration will hold public hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal to provide municipal identity cards for undocumented foreigners. "During this process there will be audiences so that the community can speak about the need for that document. I have great faith in what we're going to learn in that process and what we'll gain by it," committee chair Carlos Menchaca told Efe.

Gen X and Y may be too confident about house, kids and retirement: BMO

TORONTO - Take off the rose-coloured glasses, Generation X and Generation Y. That's the message from the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute, which says young adults and teens may be overly confident about facing life's major financial milestones. According to a 13-page report issued Friday, the bank says 68 per cent of those recently surveyed in these age groups believe they'll be able to buy a house at some point.

Top China filmmaker pays $1.2 million fine over children

China's best-known film director Zhang Yimou has paid 7.5 million yuan ($1.2 million) for violating the one-child policy, officials said Friday, closing a case that had attracted widespread attention. Following months of rumours that he had fathered up to seven children with different women, Zhang admitted in December he has two sons and a daughter with his current wife, Chen Ting, all from before they were married. He also has a daughter with a previous wife.

Survey: Americans less worried about retirement compared to those in parts of Europe and Asia

WASHINGTON - A new study finds that people in nations where the population is aging less swiftly, such as the U.S, are less likely to be worried about their old-age futures than those in parts of Europe and East Asia that are grappling with swiftly shrinking workforces and increasing pension costs. The survey by the Pew Research Center covers 21 nations. Changes in the world's demographics "could alter the distribution of global economic power over the coming decades," Rakesh Kochhar, a senior researcher at Pew, said Thursday.
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