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Syria crisis: Russia and US no closer
Speeches by key leaders at the end of the G20 summit in St Petersburg have laid bare the bitter divisions over possible military action in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin restated his opposition to any strike, saying it would destabilise the region.
US President Barack Obama said action was necessary in reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
A joint statement from the US and 10 other nations called for a strong international response.
BBC:Nigeria Boko Haram gunmen 'tracked and killed'
Nigeria Boko Haram gunmen 'tracked and killed'
About 50 Islamist militants have been killed in north-eastern Nigeria after the military raided Boko Haram camps, army spokesman Sagir Musa has said.
Troops tracked gunmen who attacked two towns on Wednesday and Thursday, reportedly killing 20 people.
Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state across Nigeria, has waged a deadly insurgency since 2009.
In May, Nigeria declared an emergency in three north-eastern states in order to battle the militants.
BBC:Colombia Santos: Farc 'to keep weapons until referendum'
Colombia Santos: Farc 'to keep weapons until referendum'
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said the Farc rebels would be allowed to keep their weapons until a peace agreement was ratified.
Mr Santos said no-one could expect the rebels to give up their weapons before a peace accord had been given final approval in a referendum.
He added that a ceasefire would be implemented once a deal was reached in talks under way in Cuba.
Critics say a referendum should not be held until the rebels disarm.
BBC:Nasa's LADEE Moon probe ready for lift-off
Nasa's LADEE Moon probe ready for lift-off
The US space agency (Nasa) is about to launch its latest mission to the Moon.
The unmanned LADEE probe is set to lift-off from the Wallops rocket facility on the US east coast at 23:27 local time (03:27 GMT on Saturday).
Its $280m (£180m) mission is to investigate the very tenuous atmosphere that surrounds the lunar body.
It will also try to get some insights on the strange behaviour of moondust, which appears on occasions to levitate high above the surface.
BBC:Australia election: Millions head to polls
Australia election: Millions head to polls
Australians are voting in a general election, with opposition leader Tony Abbott's Liberal-National coalition aiming to bring to an end six years of Labor government.
Opinion polls suggest Kevin Rudd, who returned as prime minister three months ago, is trailing his opponent.
The rivals are split on how to tackle Australia's budget deficit, but both have pledged tough action to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat.
All citizens over 18 must vote by law.
BBC:Zimbabwe elephants poisoned by poachers in Hwange
Zimbabwe elephants poisoned by poachers in Hwange
Poachers have used poison to kill 41 elephants in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, an official has told the BBC.
Zimbabwe Parks spokeswoman Caroline Washaya Moyo said it was suspected that cyanide was used to poison salt pans but tests are still being carried out.
She said it was Zimbabwe's worst case of elephant poaching.
There has been a rise in the killing of elephants and rhinos in parts of Africa in recent years, mostly to feed demand for horns and tusks in Asia.
Reuters:2020 city contest becomes ‘least-ugly parade'
2020 city contest becomes ‘least-ugly parade'
(Reuters) - Would-be 2020 Olympic cities of Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo parade before the Games' organizing body on Saturday in a "least ugly" contest as they attempt to conceal their blemishes and win the right to host the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.
All three cities are wrestling different demons which, in another contest and another time, would likely rule them out of winning the honor to stage the Games.
But in Buenos Aires on Saturday, the some 100 members of the International Olympic Committee must choose the least worst option and trust the winning city can deliver on their promises.
All three cities will present their bids to the IOC membership, with Istanbul first up, followed by Tokyo and then Madrid. Each city is being represented in person by leading statesmen.
Reuters:U.S. clears Smithfield's acquisition by China's Shuanghui
U.S. clears Smithfield's acquisition by China's Shuanghui
(Reuters) - The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment has cleared the way for Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd's proposed $4.7 billion acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc, the companies said on Friday.
The deal, which would be the biggest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, still needs shareholder approval at a special meeting scheduled for September 24.
Shuanghui and Smithfield expect the transaction, valued at $7.1 billion including debt, to close shortly after that meeting.
Experts in Washington and on Wall Street had expected the deal to get the nod from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency executive branch panel that examines foreign investment for potential threats to national security.
Reuters:Syria, Egypt turmoil nudges Israel, Palestinians toward peace
Syria, Egypt turmoil nudges Israel, Palestinians toward peace
(Reuters) - Turmoil in Syria and Egypt is nudging Israelis and Palestinians toward peace, a U.S. official said on Friday as Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Europe for talks about that conflict and a possible U.S. strike on Syrian targets.
While the chief U.S. diplomat's three-day trip was originally designed to focus on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and will include a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in London on Sunday, Syria is sure to consume many of his conversations with European and Arab diplomats.
Kerry will meet European Union foreign ministers in the Lithuanian capital on Saturday as the U.S. Congress weighs whether to give President Barack Obama the authority to conduct military strikes on Syria following an August 21 attack in which Washington accuses Damascus of using sarin gas to kill at least 1,400 Syrians.
The White House has argued that any strike would aim to deter Syria, and others, from using chemical weapons and it has denied any intention of getting enmeshed in Syria's civil war.
Reuters:Obama: U.S. will probe reported NSA spying on Brazil, Mexico
Obama: U.S. will probe reported NSA spying on Brazil, Mexico
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama promised on Friday to look into a report the United States spied on the leaders of Brazil and Mexico, allegations that have caused tensions in Washington's ties to its two biggest Latin American partners.
Obama met with presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico during an international summit in Russia and discussed reports that the U.S. National Security Agency snooped on their personal communications and phone calls.
"I assured them that I take these allegations very seriously. I understand their concerns. I understand the concerns of the Mexican and Brazilian people; and that we will work with their teams to resolve what is a source of tension," Obama said at a news conference.
Rousseff, speaking earlier on Friday, indicated she was not fully satisfied with Obama's assurances during their meeting late on Thursday. She said Obama had agreed to provide a fuller explanation for the reported spying by Wednesday, and that she would decide whether or not to go ahead with a planned visit to the White House next month based in part on his response.
Reuters:Obama meets Russian activists but avoids criticizing Kremlin
Obama meets Russian activists but avoids criticizing Kremlin
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama trod carefully in talks with Russian human rights activists after a G20 summit dominated by the Syrian crisis on Friday, avoiding direct public criticism of Kremlin policies the United States has denounced.
Following a tradition that has irritated President Vladimir Putin, who accuses Washington of meddling in Russia's affairs and backing his foes, Obama made a point of meeting civil society leaders while visiting for a international gathering.
Obama's huddle with activists came at a sensitive time when ties are badly strained over Syria, Russia's sheltering of U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and the disputes over human rights that mounted after Putin started a third term in 2012.
The United States has accused Russia of curbing freedoms, stifling dissent and discriminating against members of the gay community with a series of laws Putin has signed since he returned to the Kremlin after four years as prime minister.
Reuters:U.S. prosecutors add China bribe allegations to GSK probe
U.S. prosecutors add China bribe allegations to GSK probe
(Reuters) - U.S. authorities are investigating British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc for violations of U.S. anti-bribery laws in China after Chinese government officials accused the company of bribing doctors, three sources familiar with the probe said this week.
The sources did not want to be identified because the matter is not public.
The investigation is part of a wider probe of drugmakers' sales practices in China, said one of the sources, adding that the Department of Justice has expanded a probe into GSK's business practices in other countries to include the Chinese bribery allegations.
A company spokesman on Friday confirmed the new line of inquiry in response to questions from Reuters.
WSJ:Fifteen Patients Possibly Exposed to Rare Brain Disease
Fifteen Patients Possibly Exposed to Rare Brain Disease
Hospitals in three states have cautioned 15 people that they were exposed to potentially contaminated surgical instruments used on an elderly New Hampshire person who died last month from a suspected rare and fatal brain disorder.
The odds other patients contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, are considered very remote, health officials in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut said. But because typical sterilization techniques aren't guaranteed to wipe out CJD, hospitals tracked down patients who had surgery with the same instruments used in May on the patient who later died.
Health authorities haven't disclosed specific details regarding that patient, but a spinal-fluid test lead them to suspect CJD, which causes memory loss, other cognitive problems and typically kills within a year, said Jose Montero, director of public health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
The disease can only be confirmed through autopsy results that are expected within four weeks, he said.