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Moderate Earthquake Rattles New Zealand Capital

A moderate 4.7-magnitude earthquake hit the New Zealand capital Wellington on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, rattling office blocks but causing no apparent damage.

The quake's epicentre was at the top of the South Island at a depth of 22 kilometres (14 miles), the USGS said. New Zealand’s official GeoNet monitoring service put its intensity at magnitude 5.2.

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U.N. Refugee Chief: Med Migrant Crisis Needs Rescue Response

The migration crisis in the Mediterranean -- in which 800 people are feared to have died Sunday alone -- is a tragedy that needs a coordinated rescue response, the top U.N. official for refugees said Wednesday.

"Our ability to save lives at sea has to be guaranteed, because the current situation is a tremendous tragedy," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said at a briefing at the Organization of American States in Washington.

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U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-Trafficking Bill

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday aimed at stopping human trafficking, after lawmakers overcame a dispute about the measure's abortion language that prompted weeks of gridlock.

The partisan standoff had delayed a confirmation vote on President Barack Obama's attorney general nominee, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch. That Senate vote is now expected as early as Thursday.

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U.S. Says Russia Boosting Rebel Forces, Equipment in Ukraine

The United States accused Russia Wednesday of building up its forces along the border with Ukraine, boosting air defense systems in the country and training Ukrainian rebels in the east.

"Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the 'Minsk 2' agreement signed in mid-February," acting State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

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U.N. Raises Alarm over Stalled Nuclear Disarmament

The failure of the world's nuclear powers to make headway on disarmament is threatening to unravel a landmark treaty coming up for review next week, the U.N.'s disarmament chief warned Wednesday.

The 190 countries that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are opening a month-long conference on Monday at the United Nations to take stock amid much gloom over the lack of progress.

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White House Hackers were 'Russian Speakers'

Hackers who penetrated the State Department and White House computer networks in recent months were "Russian speakers," security researchers said Wednesday.

The hackers have aimed at high-profile targets including U.S. government and commercial networks as well as in Germany, South Korea and Uzbekistan, according to researchers at Kaspersky Lab, a Russian-headquartered security firm.

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U.S. Teen 'Seduced' by IS Ideology, Convicted on Gun Charge

A 16-year-old American accused of planning to join the Islamic State group has been found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in South Carolina, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The teenager, who has not been identified because he is a minor, conspired with another person to travel to the Middle East with the intention of joining IS and "perhaps cause trouble in the United States," prosecutor Kevin Brackett alleged.

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Turkey 'Stops Bosnian Serb Leader from Traveling to Armenia'

Turkey on Wednesday stopped Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik's plane from flying over its territory, preventing him from attending a ceremony to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide, his cabinet said.

"Although all authorizations for this flight had been initially obtained, Turkish authorities did not allow the flight over their territory," Dodik's cabinet said in a statement.

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U.S. Probes Death of Black Baltimore Man in Police Custody

The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday it has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of an African-American man in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tensions are running high in the Mid-Atlantic city of 620,000 after Freddie Gray, 25, died of spinal cord injuries on Sunday.

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Turkey Content as U.S. to Avoid Calling Armenian Killings 'Genocide'

Turkish leaders on Wednesday expressed satisfaction that the United States appeared to be holding off from describing the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

One of Turkey's worst nightmares is that President Barack Obama would acknowledge the killings as a genocide on the April 24 anniversary but comments by U.S. officials have indicated that this will not be the case.

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