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Katia Weakens to Category Three Hurricane

Katia weakened to a category three hurricane early Tuesday as it churned far off in the Atlantic but continued to heave storm swells against the U.S. east coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Packing sustained winds of up to 125 miles (205 kilometers) per hour, the center of Katia was churning about 400 miles (625 kilometers) south of Bermuda at 0900 GMT, the Miami-based NHC said in its latest advisory.

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South Korea Buying Israeli Rockets to Deter Pyongyang

South Korea has struck a $43 million deal with an Israeli company to buy advanced rockets to protect a front-line area attacked by North Korea last year, officials said Tuesday.

South Korea will deploy 67 Spike NLOS rockets on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands in the Yellow Sea as early as late this year, a South Korean government arms procurement official said. Four South Koreans were killed on Yeonpyeong when the North shelled it last November.

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6.6-Magnitude Quake Hits Indonesia, 1 Dead

A powerful earthquake jolted the western Indonesian island of Sumatra early Tuesday, killing a 12-year-old boy and sending people streaming from houses, hotels and at least one hospital in panic.

The magnitude-6.6 quake was centered 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of the city of Medan and 62 miles (110 kilometers) beneath the earth's crust, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Europe Rights Chief Urges Truth about CIA 'Black Sites'

The Council of Europe's human rights chief urged Poland, Romania and Lithuania Monday to lift the lid on CIA "black sites" where detainees were allegedly tortured on their soil.

The Central Intelligence Agency, as part of its clandestine counter-terrorism operations, set up "black sites" in at least seven overseas locations, including some in Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, the council's human rights commissioner, wrote on his blog.

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Senior Qaida Leader Arrested in Pakistan

A senior al-Qaida leader believed to have been responsible for planning attacks on the U.S., Europe and Australia has been arrested in southwest Pakistan, the army announced on Monday.

Younis al-Mauritani was picked up in the suburbs of the southwestern city of Quetta along with two other high-ranking operatives for the global terror network, the military said in a statement.

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Chirac Absent for Health Reasons as Graft Trial Opens

Jacques Chirac's embezzlement trial opened Monday with the 78-year-old former French president absent after a medical report said he suffered from memory loss and was too unwell to attend.

"Absent," came the reply when the presiding judge called out his name at the start of a trial that should have seen the first French former head of state in the dock since World War II.

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Monsoon Kills More than 100 in Pakistan

Monsoon rains in Pakistan have killed more than 100 people in a month and destroyed crops and houses in the flood-prone south of the country, provincial government officials said on Monday.

Some 2.2 million people have been affected and 300,000 displaced, said Sajjad Haider Shah, an official at the disaster management authority in the southern province of Sindh.

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Report: Famine Declared in New Somalia Region, Likely to Spread

Famine spread to a sixth southern Somali region and will likely extend further in the coming four months with 750,000 people at risk of death, the United Nations said Monday.

"Tens of thousands of people have already died, over half of whom are children," according to a statement from the U.N.'s food security analysis team for Somalia, which said the Bay region was now declared a famine zone.

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Ahmadinejad Unveils Hydro-Power Station in Tajikistan

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at global powers Monday for interfering in domestic affairs of Asian and African countries as he unveiled a hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan.

"We are very concerned over interference of superpowers and strangers in the internal affairs and problems of our region and Africa," Ahmadinejad said at the opening ceremony of a hydro-power station built as a joint project with the fellow Persian-speaking country.

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Killer Typhoon Brings More Misery to Japan

Rescuers and search parties scoured central Japan on Monday as the death toll from the worst typhoon to hit the country in seven years climbed to 26, adding more misery to a nation still reeling from its catastrophic tsunami six months ago.

Typhoon Talas, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm, lashed coastal areas with destructive winds and record-setting rains over the weekend before moving offshore into the Sea of Japan. In addition to the 26 dead and 52 missing, thousands were stranded as the typhoon washed out bridges, railways and roads.

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