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Fighting Rages Round Libyan Rebel Stronghold

Fighting raged around Libya's rebel stronghold of Benghazi Saturday ahead of a key meeting in Paris to discuss international military action against Moammar Gadhafi's government forces.

The southern edge of the city suffered at least two air strikes and sustained shelling, sending thick smoke into the sky, and a warplane crashed in flames, an Agence France Presse reporter said.

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Egyptians Turn Out in Droves to Taste Democracy

Arab League chief Amr Moussa hailed a huge turnout for a landmark referendum in Egypt on Saturday as voters seized their first taste of democracy after the ouster of veteran president Hosni Mubarak.

Queues had formed outside voting centers even before polls opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT), something unheard of in the Mubarak-era when turnout for elections was always tiny as voters assumed their ballots would make no difference.

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Singh: UNIFIL Ready to Demarcate Maritime Blue Line

UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh confirmed that the international force is ready to help in the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

“The two countries have to approve our intervention,” he told As Safir in remarks published on Saturday.

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Obama Threatens Military Action if Gadhafi Defies U.N. Resolution

U.S. President Barack Obama Friday threatened defiant Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi with military action unless he met specific, "non-negotiable" demands for a ceasefire, a halt to attacks on civilians and a retreat from rebel strongholds.

Obama said the world could not stand by because, if left unchecked, Gadhafi would commit atrocities in which thousands could die, adding that the Libyan strongman had been given "ample warning" to change his behavior.

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46 Dead in Yemen Protest Bloodbath, Saleh Declares Emergency Rule

Beleaguered Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered a state of emergency after regime loyalists on Friday killed at least 46 protesters, according to medics, in the bloodiest clash in weeks of unrest.

Witnesses said pro-Saleh "thugs" had rained bullets from rooftops around a square at Sanaa University, the center of demonstrations against Saleh, adding that more than 400 people were wounded.

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Libya Declares Immediate Ceasefire after U.N. Resolution but Rebels Say Attacks Continue

Libya declared Friday an immediate ceasefire in the month-long battle against rebels fighting to overthrow strongman Moammar Gadhafi, but the insurgents dismissed it as a bluff and Washington demanded action, not words.

More than four hours after the announcement, rebels said they were still being attacked by Gadhafi loyalists, a claim Tripoli denied.

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Ban to Join EU-Arab-African Summit on Libya Saturday

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon is to join a summit on Libya between the European Union, the Arab League and the African Union in Paris on Saturday, the head of the League's secretariat said on Friday.

"The Arab League has received an invitation from France to take part in a one-day summit between the EU, the African Union and the Arab League tomorrow to discuss the situation in Libya and how to tackle it in the light of the latest U.N. resolution," Hisham Yussef said.

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Academic Says Facebook Can Help in Disasters

An Australian academic Friday praised the increasing use of social media during disasters, saying there had been a "beautiful display of humanity" on Facebook during recent catastrophes.

Communications expert Gwyneth Howell said she had been prompted to research the use of social media following last year's major earthquake in New Zealand's second city Christchurch -- which caused damage but no deaths.

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Microsoft Takes Down Major Fake Drug Spam Network

Microsoft on Thursday announced the dismantling of a "notorious and complex" network of virus-infected computers used to send billions of email messages daily hawking fake drugs.

The Rustock "botnet" consisted of about a million computers that were infected with malicious code to let hackers covertly control the machines from afar using "command and control" servers.

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Nissan to Monitor Vehicles for Radioactivity

Nissan Motor said Friday it would monitor all its vehicles made in Japan for radioactivity, amid international concern over efforts to avert a nuclear catastrophe at a stricken atomic plant.

"We will continue to implement all appropriate measures to reassure the public that all products from our company remain within globally accepted safety standards," the company said in a statement.

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