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Syria's Assad makes rare appearance at rally

Syria's president makes rare public appearance at rally of his supporters
Albert Aji,Elizabeth A. Kennedy, The Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syrian President Bashar Assad joined thousands of his supporters Wednesday in an extremely rare public appearance, telling a pro-regime rally in the capital that the "conspiracy" against his country will fail.

Dressed more casually than usual in a jacket but no tie, the president told the cheering crowd that he wanted to draw strength from them. Security guards surrounded him as supporters waved his portrait and raised Syrian flags.

Skyscraper boom may herald downturn

Pride cometh before a fall: Skyscraper boom may herald economic downturn
Erika Kinetz, The Associated Press

MUMBAI, India - A skyscraper building boom in China and India may be a sign of an impending economic correction in two of Asia's largest economies, according to a new report by Barclays Capital.

Barclays has mapped an "unhealthy correlation" between construction of the world's tallest buildings and impending financial crises over the last 140 years.

Today, China is home to half of the world's skyscrapers — defined as buildings over 240 metres tall — currently under construction.

NKorea keeps door open for food-nuke deal with US

NKorea keeps door open to US food-for-nuke-disarmament offer but complains US changed deal
Foster Klug,Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea signalled Wednesday it remains open to suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for U.S. food aid, a deal that appeared imminent before leader Kim Jong Il died last month.

EU says Hungary may not be complying with EU law

EU mulls action against Hungary for possible breach of independence of central bank, judiciary
The Associated Press

BRUSSELS - A spokesman for the European Commission says it is considering pursuing legal action against Hungary for failing to respect the independence of the country's central bank, its judiciary and its national data protection authority.

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Commission, said Wednesday a decision would be made next week.

The Commission has for some time expressed concerns over the issues to Hungarian authorities.

6 pandas amble toward freedom in China preserve

6 panda bred in captivity amble into nature preserve as China is reintroducing more to wild
The Associated Press

DUJIANGYAN, China - Six pandas bred in captivity wandered into an enclosed nature preserve in their native central China on Wednesday, a step toward eventually being reintroduced to the wild.

Gifts galore for William and Kate on overseas trip

Shirts, hats and fascinators among gifts for William and Kate on overseas tours
The Associated Press

LONDON - The new Duchess of Cambridge was showered with gifts — from head to toe — on her first overseas visit as a member of the royal family.

Palace records show that Canadian officials and well-wishers gave the former Kate Middleton hats, tartan and peacock fascinators and three pairs of shoes during her visit to the country with Prince William last year.

US fires 1st drone in Pakistan in 6 weeks; 4 dead

US fires 1st drone into Pakistan since strike that killed Pakistani troops; 4 militants dead
Lolita C. Baldor,Rasool Dawar, The Associated Press

BANNU, Pakistan - An American drone strike killed four Islamist militants in Pakistan, the first such attack since errant U.S airstrikes in November killed two dozen Pakistan troops and pushed strained ties between the two nations close to collapse, Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday.

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