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Chavez, Rival Close Campaigns with Huge Rallies

Venezuelans packed the streets of Caracas and other cities Thursday to hear President Hugo Chavez and opposition rival Henrique Capriles make their final pitches ahead of weekend elections.

As a downpour fell on Caracas, Chavez, who is seeking a new six-year term in Sunday's presidential vote, addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters who waved flags, danced and chanted: "Ooh! aah! Chavez won't go!"

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U.S. 'Appalled' by Darfur Attack, Says Security Worsening

The United States on Thursday denounced an attack on a U.N. patrol in Sudan, voicing concern that security in western Darfur was worsening and threatening the implementation of peace accords there.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the sharp deterioration in security in North Darfur and adjacent parts of Jebel Marra, Sudan," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

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All 18 Children Confirmed Dead in China Landslide

Rescuers have found the bodies of all 18 children buried when a landslide engulfed their primary school in China as they made up classes lost due to recent deadly earthquakes, state media said Friday.

The landslide, triggered by sustained rains, buried the school and three farmhouses on Thursday in the village of Zhenhe in Yunnan province where a pair of earthquakes last month killed 81 people and injured hundreds.

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Obama Plays Catch-Up after Lethargic Debate

President Barack Obama on Thursday landed the verbal blows he missed the previous night in his debate with Mitt Romney, clawing at his Republican foe to stop him gaining a boost in the polls.

Obama went on the attack at big rallies in Colorado and Wisconsin and was energetic, combative and concise, the opposite of the tired and long-winded candidate who was decisively beaten by Romney on Wednesday night.

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Georgia Vote Winner Plans First Trip to U.S.

Georgia's Bidzina Ivanishvili said Thursday he had a plan but no date to make Washington his first foreign destination should he become prime minister as expected.

The announcement seemed designed to discredit claims that Ivanishvili, who is tipped to become premier after winning parliamentary polls on Monday, was working on behalf of Russia, a longtime foe which defeated Georgia in a brief 2008 war.

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Demonstrators Break into Greek Defence Ministry

More than 200 employees of a Greek shipyard on Thursday broke into the courtyard of the country's defense ministry in Athens to protest against non-payment of their wages, police said.

They broke down barriers at the entry and anti-riot forces were sent in half an hour later using clubs and gas to remove them. When they refused to leave they were arrested en masse.

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Analysts: Romney Wins Round One as Debates Begin

Mitt Romney regained momentum in the first debate by aggressively standing up to Barack Obama, analysts said, but it remains to be seen how much he can budge the needle in the White House race.

Obama spoke longer during the 90-minute showdown in Denver on Wednesday, but the Republican challenger landed more blows against an often-subdued president in their first of three debates ahead of the November 6 vote.

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'Distraught' Ex-Philippine President Arrested

A "distraught" ex-Philippine president Gloria Arroyo was arrested at hospital on Thursday after being charged over a third case of alleged corruption during her time in power, authorities said.

An anti-graft court ordered her arrest after Arroyo was charged with plunder for allegedly stealing 366 million pesos ($8.8 million) in state lottery funds meant for charity programs, and spending the money on election campaigns.

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Karzai Pledges New Afghan President in 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged Thursday that he would step down as required by the constitution at the end of his second term in 2014 and that nothing would prevent presidential elections being held.

The election coincides with the scheduled withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and questions have been raised about whether the security situation could make it impossible for the vote to go ahead.

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S. Korea Poses No Threat to North, Says President

President Lee Myung-Bak on Thursday said South Korea posed no security threat to North Korea even as he urged parliament to get behind reforms aimed at modernizing the South's military.

In a parliamentary budget speech, Lee also called on the communist state to give up its pursuit of missile and nuclear programs and instead focus on the needs of its impoverished population.

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