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Romney Turns in Strong Debate Performance

Republican Mitt Romney performed strongly Wednesday in his first presidential debate, putting a more passive Barack Obama on the back foot as he reignited hope in his flagging campaign.

Needing a good showing to turn around poor poll numbers, the former Massachusetts governor went on the offensive from the get-go, hammering the president for economic policies he said had "crushed" America's middle class.

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French President's Partner Admits Tweet 'Mistake'

French President Francois Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler admitted Wednesday she had made a mistake in firing off a tweet snubbing Hollande's ex-companion and said she regretted it.

"It was a mistake that I regret. I must have been clumsy because this was badly interpreted," Trierweiler told the Ouest-France newspaper. "I had not yet realized that I was no longer a simple citizen. It won't happen again."

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FBI Offers $50,000 Bounty for Suspect with Qaida Ties

U.S. authorities offered a $50,000 reward on Wednesday for an American of Syrian descent with alleged al-Qaida ties, who is accused of plotting to kill U.S. military personnel overseas.

Officials have been searching for Ahmad Abousamra, 31, since November 2009, when a federal warrant was issued for his arrest.

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Death Toll from Nigeria Student Massacre at Least 40

The death toll from a massacre in a student housing area in northeast Nigeria that saw attackers shoot victims and slit their throats has climbed to at least 40, a school official said Wednesday.

"Based on accounts from locals, at least 40 people were killed in the attack," the official from the polytechnic school in the town of Mubi said on condition of anonymity, with the previous toll 26 from Tuesday's attack.

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Rasmussen Wins Fifth and Final Year as NATO Chief

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday won a fifth and final year at the helm of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the alliance said.

"Following a process of consultations, Allies approved today Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's fifth year in office, thus extending his mandate until July 31st 2014," it said in a statement.

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Russia Blames Al-Qaida for Europe Wildfires

The head of Russia's Federal Security Service blamed Al-Qaida Wednesday for a recent series of deadly forest fires in Europe, saying they were set by arsonists as part of the group's strategy to exhaust its enemies with low-cost attacks.

"One should note that setting fires to forests in the countries of the European Union is a new tendency in Al-Qaida's strategy of a 'thousand cuts'," the state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Alexander Bortnikov as saying at a meeting of heads of security agencies.

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Russia Hopes for 'Normalization' of Georgia Ties

Russia hopes that the victory of Georgia's opposition in parliamentary elections will help normalize Tbilisi's fraught relations with Moscow, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"Clearly Georgian society voted for change," spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. "We hope that in the end it will let Georgia move to a normalization and establishment of constructive and respectful relations with their neighbors. Russia would welcome this development."

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Secret Papers, Masonic Research in Vatican Butler's Flat

Vatican police testifying Wednesday at the high-profile trial of Pope Benedict XVI's former butler said they had found more than 1,000 confidential papers in his apartment.

The papers -- both copies and originals -- were many more than have been leaked to the press and included some signed by the pope himself as well as letters from cardinals and politicians, officers told Paolo Gabriele's trial.

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Nigerian Troops Search House-to-House for Massacre Suspects

Nigerian soldiers moved house to house on Wednesday in an urgent bid to hunt down attackers responsible for the massacre of 26 people who were shot or had their throats slit in a student housing area.

The attack in the early hours of Tuesday near a polytechnic university shook the town of Mubi, located in Nigeria's volatile northeast.

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U.S. Patrol Agent Shot Dead near Mexican Border

A United States border agent on patrol along Arizona's border with Mexico was shot dead and another was wounded on Tuesday, officials said.

"One agent died from his injuries and another, who sustained non-life threatening wounds, was airlifted to a hospital," a spokesman with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency told AFP.

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