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India Readies for Long-Range Missile Test

India on Wednesday prepared for the first trial of a long-range nuclear-capable missile that could strike anywhere in China -- Delhi's main focus as it strives to modernize its military.

An official at the test monitoring station in the eastern state of Orissa told Agence France Presse that the maiden flight of the Agni-V rocket, which has a range of 5,000-kilometers (3,100-miles), was expected later Wednesday.

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Libya's Federalist Camp Clings to Autonomy Bid

Hundreds of federalism backers who massed in east Libya on Tuesday insisted on the region's autonomy and challenged the framework for electing a constituent assembly.

Participants issued a statement stressing their "commitment to the autonomy of Cyrenaica stretching from the border with Egypt (in the east) to Sirte," the hometown of slain leader Moammar Gadhafi.

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Starbucks Plans to Expand in China

American giant Starbucks plans to heavily invest in expansion in China as the local population starts to embrace the coffee culture, the company's Asia Pacific president said Wednesday.

"We see opportunities for many, many more stores in China," John Culver told journalists.

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Iraq's Sadr Urges Release of Bahrain Hunger Striker

Anti-U.S. Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for the release of jailed Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months.

"I demand his immediate release," Sadr said in a statement released by his office in Najaf and obtained by Agence France Presse on Wednesday. It was unclear when the cleric made the statement.

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Juppe Says Paris FMs Meeting to Send 'Strong' Message to Assad

France said Wednesday that 14 foreign ministers would attend a meeting on Syria in Paris on Thursday to send a "strong" message to Bashar al-Assad's regime to implement a peace plan.

"The obstacles to the U.N. observers' mission that Damascus is putting in place and the Syrian regime's continued repression, contrary to its commitments, calls for a strong reaction from the international community," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement.

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In Canada, 'Star Wars' Exhibit Asks Who We Are

A new exhibit exploring human identity through the "Star Wars" universe and the epic sci-fi saga's quirky characters kicks off a multi-city world tour in Montreal on Thursday.

"Star Wars Identities" combines the latest scientific research in areas of psychology, neuropsychology and genetics with some 200 costumes, props, models and artwork from the Lucasfilm archives to ask the fundamental questions: who we are and how do we become who we are?

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Bird Flu Outbreak in China

Agricultural authorities in northwest China have culled about 95,000 chickens after an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus, state press reported Wednesday.

The outbreak in Touying township of the Ningxia region was discovered on Friday last week after over 23,000 chickens began showing symptoms, Xinhua news agency said, citing the Ministry of Agriculture.

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Elephants Terrorize Villagers in Mozambique

Rampaging elephants are terrorizing Mozambican villages near the Zimbabwe border, attacking people, trampling crops and scaring children, state-run newspaper Noticias reported Wednesday.

"We are using traditional ways to try to scare the animals, but all in vain, because whenever we do something, the monsters disappear for a few days, and when they come back there is no peace," local farmer Joseph Maithe told the paper.

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Turkey Intercepts Ship with Suspected Arms Headed For Syria

Turkey has intercepted a Bermuda-flagged vessel suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition to Syria in the Mediterranean, a diplomatic source told Agence France Presse on Wednesday.

"We received information that the vessel has a cargo of arms and ammunition headed for Syria," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that Turkish authorities would search the vessel later in the day.

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Israel Expels 9 French Activists after Airport 'Trouble'

Nine French activists who arrived in Israel overnight and "caused trouble" at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, have been expelled, an interior ministry official said on Wednesday.

"These nine pro-Palestinian activists caused trouble and some violence on board the plane they were travelling on from Athens and at the terminal," spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told Agence France Presse.

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