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Russia rejects pullout from Ukraine as condition for talks

Russia said Friday that Western demands it should pull out completely from Ukraine as part of any future talks to end the war effectively rule out any such negotiations, as Russian strikes continued and a Ukrainian official set his country's battle losses at up to 13,000 troops.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains open to talks but the Western demand that Moscow first withdraws its troops from Ukraine is unacceptable.

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Camel pageant among attractions on World Cup sidelines

Like all good pageant contestants, Nazaa'a displayed not only dazzling beauty but also poise and grace.

She batted her eyelashes and flashed a toothy smile for the television cameras at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the Qatari desert about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away from Doha and soccer's World Cup.

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Musk says Twitter has suspended rapper Ye over swastika post

Twitter has suspended rapper Ye after he tweeted a picture of a swastika merged with the Star of David.

It is the second time this year that Ye has been suspended from the platform over antisemitic posts.

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Hong Kong divided over China's COVID-19 protests

The recent wave of protests against China's anti-virus restrictions was a ray of hope for some supporters of Hong Kong's own pro-democracy movement after local authorities stifled it using a national security law enacted in 2020.

Thomas So, who joined about a dozen students from the Chinese mainland staging a rare protest this week at the University of Hong Kong, is among them.

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What's the effect of Russian oil price cap, ban?

Western governments are aiming to cap the price of Russia's oil exports in an attempt to limit the fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow's budget, its military and the invasion of Ukraine.

The cap is supposed to take effect Monday, the same day the European Union will impose a boycott on most Russian oil — its crude that is shipped by sea. The EU was moving closer to a $60-per-barrel threshold, but negotiations were still underway Friday.

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Orban says Hungary will stick to veto of EU-Ukraine aid plan

Hungary's prime minister said Friday that he will continue to oppose a European Union plan to provide an 18-billion-euro ($19-billion) aid package to Ukraine in 2023, a position that promises sustained tensions as the bloc and the nationalist Hungarian government wrangle over democratic standards.

In an interview on state radio, Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged that Ukraine needs help to pay for the functioning of essential services but emphasized that he would block the EU's plan of joint borrowing to fund the package.

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UK opposition wins special election in blow to Sunak's party

Britain's opposition Labour Party has handily won a special election for a northwest England seat in Parliament, the first test of voter sentiment since Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took office in October.

Labour held onto the City of Chester constituency with an increased vote share of 61%, according to results announced Friday. Labour won 50% of the votes in Chester at the last national election in 2019.

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Japan OKs $216B extra budget to counter impact of inflation

Japan's parliament approved a hefty 29 trillion yen ($216 billion) supplementary budget Friday aimed at countering the blow to household finances from rising food and utility costs and the weaker yen.

It is the second batch of supplementary spending this year to help boost the economy. The extra spending, funded mainly by government bonds, has added to concerns over the already heavy national debt.

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Germany welcomes Biden comments in trade dispute

Germany on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden's apparent willingness to discuss tweaking U.S. legislation that European leaders say unfairly discriminates against their industries.

Biden acknowledged during a visit to Washington by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday that there were "glitches" in the Inflation Reduction Act, which favors American-made climate technology for products such as electric vehicles.

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Lagoon dries up as drought grips Peru's southern Andes

From her home under the baking sun of Peru's southern Andes, Vilma Huamaní can see the small Cconchaccota lagoon, the axis of her community's life. It has been a source of trout, fun for children eager to swim, beauty as flamingos flew from over the mountains and water for thirsty sheep.

Nowadays, all Huamaní sees of the lagoon 4,100 meters (13,120 feet) above sea level is a plain of cracked and broken soil surrounded by yellow grass.

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