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Wednesday, Apr 01st

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South Pacific cyclone leaves 'utter devastation,' at least eight dead

South pacific cycloneTropical Cyclone Pam "utterly devastated" the South Pacific Vanuatu islands, killing at least eight people, relief workers said. More casualties are expected.

The Category 5 storm, packing 167 mph winds with gusts up to 200 mph, left a trail of destruction that stretched the nation of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 islands off Australia's northeastern coast. Homes were leveled and power lines were downed. There is no running water or electricity in the capital city of Port Vila, where about 47,000 people live. There are reports of entire villages being decimated.

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Dozens feared dead as Myanmar ferry sinks

Myanmar ferry sinksAt least 47 people are feared dead after an overloaded ferry sank in bad weather off the western coast of Myanmar, government officials said Saturday, though local residents said they believed the death toll was much higher.

The ship was reportedly carrying 214 passengers and crew when it ran into high seas late on Friday on a voyage from the coastal town of Taunggok to Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state, a police officer in Sittwe told Agence France-Presse.

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Muslim teachers may wear headscarves in class, German court rules

anti islam protestFemale Muslim teachers in Germany may wear headscarves in class as long as it does not cause disruption in the school, Germany’s top court has said in a ruling that may fuel debate about what some nationalist groups see as creeping “Islamisation”.

The constitutional court reversed its initial 2003 ban on headscarves for teachers, which had led some German states to forbid Muslim headscarves in schools while permitting the wearing of Christian symbols such as crucifixes and nuns’ habits.

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Kerry talks Mideast peace with Abbas, Sissi, Jordan king

Kerry in Middle EastU.S Secretary of State John Kerry held talks Friday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Egypt and Jordan on the stalled Middle East peace process, officials said.

Kerry was attending an investment conference in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh along with hundreds of prominent figures to jumpstart its economy.

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Swedish prosecutors offer to question Julian Assange in London

Julian assangeSwedish prosecutors on Friday offered to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, potentially breaking a stalemate in an almost five-year-old investigation into alleged sex crimes.

Prosecutors had previously refused to travel to London, where Assange has spent almost three years inside the Ecuadorean embassy. Lead prosecutor Marianne Ny explained the change in position by saying some of the crimes the 43-year-old Australian is accused of will reach their statute of limitations in August.

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The West Bank Battle For Land ... And Water

West Bank waterOn Moshav Na'ama, a big Israeli farm in the West Bank inside the wide Jordan Valley, Inon Rosenblum raises fresh herbs for export.

He hires Palestinians to work the fields and pack the crops. The farm is 300 feet below sea level, a desert climate where irrigation is mandatory. Rosenblum won't say exactly how much water he uses, or exactly where it comes from.

"From wells," he says. "In the mountains." Then he changes the subject.

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Bangladesh cement factory collapse traps about 100 workers

Bangladesh factory collapseAt least five people were killed and another about 100 feared trapped after a cement factory collapsed in Bangladesh on Thursday, police said.  Soldiers and sailors in the port town of Mongla helped emergency services search through the rubble and pull out more than 40 survivors, officials told Reuters

The factory, run by a subsidiary of the Bangladesh army, was still being built in the town 335 kilometres southwest of the capital, Dhaka, they added.

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