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Under-Fire U.N. Summit Issues Environment, Poverty Blueprint

The biggest U.N. summit on sustainable development in a decade approved a strategy on Friday to haul more than a billion people out of poverty and cure the sickness of the biosphere.

But critics branded the plan a cruel failure, saying it had been gutted of ambition by national interests.

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Miqati Meets Ban in Brazil, Says Govt. Striving to Preserve Stability

Prime Minister Najib Miqati met Wednesday in Brazil with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon who, according to a statement issued by Miqati’s office, voiced his support for the government in maintaining stability and praised its efforts to help the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

During the talks, Miqati said that the “regional situation is critical and the government is making every effort to consolidate stability and prevent tensions in Lebanon,” pointing out that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) contributes to maintaining security in the country.

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Palestinians Seek Full Representation at Rio+20

Palestinians are pushing for full representation as a state at the U.N. Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, but the issue will have to be decided by world leaders next week, according to officials.

"We expect full-status participation because we already have it in UNESCO and we have ties with Brazil (the host country which recognizes the Palestinian state) and with more than 130 countries," Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Alzeben told Agence France Presse.

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Miqati Heads to Rio for Sustainable Development Summit

Prime Minister Najib Miqati travelled to Brazil on Friday to take part in the U.N. conference on sustainable development that opens in Rio de Janeiro next week.

A statement released by his press office said Miqati will lead Lebanon’s delegation to the U.N. Rio+20 conference that is set to be held on June 20-22.

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Gisele Bundchen Launches Shantytown Model Search

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen on Tuesday launched a contest to discover new talent in Brazil's shantytowns, promising to reward the winner with a modeling contract.

"I feel privileged to be the sponsor of this project," Bunchen said, recalling that she had been rejected by 42 agents in London at the start of her career, when she was only 17.

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Panetta: U.S. Marines Punished over Brazil Prostitute

Three U.S. Marines and a State Department employee were punished over their involvement with a Brazilian prostitute in December, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

The admission came as officials were still reeling from the fallout of a prostitution scandal implicating Secret Service agents and military personnel working on a visit to Colombia by President Barack Obama.

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BRICS Ready to Flex Muscles At G20-IMF Meet

China and the BRICS emerging economies are set to flex their muscles as the top finance officials of the G20 and the IMF meet Friday seeking to raise $400 billion to prevent financial contagion.

Having already rolled back the goal for new crisis intervention funds from $500 billion, the International Monetary Fund remained some $80 billion short going into Friday's meetings in Washington.

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Brazil’s Medium ‘John of God’ Said To Cure Thousands

Every week using mainly his hands but also armed with scissors, a knife and scalpel, Joao Teixeira de Faria, a self-styled Brazilian medium and "psychic surgeon," treats thousands of sick people who claim to be cured.

Among those who have sought the services of the healer known as "John of God" has been none other than Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the popular Brazilian ex-president, now said to be in remission from larynx cancer.

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Brazil Alarmed over Rising Obesity Rate

In Brazil, a country known for girls in mini-bikinis and where body-consciousness borders on obsession, nearly half the population is overweight, a study by the Ministry of Health released Tuesday found.

"There is a tendency toward increased weight and obesity in the country. It's time to reverse the trend to avoid becoming a country like the United States," said Health Minister Alexandre Padilha.

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Media Watchdog Says 31 Journalists Killed in 3 Months

The number of journalists killed while doing their job in the first three months of the year reached 31, up 50 percent from 21 deaths a year ago, media watchdog Press Emblem Campaign said Monday.

In strife-torn Syria, nine journalists lost their lives during the period, including famed American war correspondent Marie Colvin.

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