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N. Korea preparing to restart nuclear facility

VIENNA, Austria: North Korea moved closer yesterday to relaunching its nuclear arms program, announcing that it wants to reactivate the facility that produced its atomic bomb and banning U.N. inspectors from the site. The United States said the moves did not mean the death of international efforts to persuade Pyongyang to recommit to an agreement that offers it diplomatic and economic concessions in exchange for nuclear disarmament. North Korea's moves could be a negotiating ploy: The year needed to start its reprocessing plant could be used to wrest more concessions from the regime's interlocutors.

Roadside bomb kills Shiite politician

BAGHDAD: A roadside bomb killed a prominent member of Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement yesterday, raising fears of new internal Shiite bloodshed ahead of regional elections expected in January. The victim's allies blamed U.S. and Iraqi forces for the blast. Suspicion also fell on Shiite splinter groups - some with suspected links to Iran, which has sheltered al-Sadr for nearly 18 months. Saleh al-Auqaeili, considered a moderate within al-Sadr's movement, was traveling in a convoy with other Shiite lawmakers when the bombing occurred about 200 yards from an Iraqi army checkpoint in mostly Shiite eastern Baghdad, a colleague said. One commuter on a motorcycle was also killed in the blast, police said.

France's Le Clezio wins Nobel literature prize

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: France's Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature yesterday for works characterized by "poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy" and focused on the environment, especially the desert. Le Clezio, 68, is the first French writer to win the prestigious award since Chinese-born Frenchman Gao Xingjian was honored in 2000 and the 14th since the Nobel Prizes began in 1901. The decision was in line with the Swedish Academy's recent picks of European authors and followed days of vitriolic debate about whether the jury was anti-American.

10,666 children still sick from milk in China

BEIJING: More than 10,000 children remain hospitalized in China's tainted milk scandal, Chinese health officials revealed, while the country defended its dairy products yesterday at a meeting of the World Trade Organization. The Health Ministry said in a statement on its Web site Wednesday that 10,666 children were still in hospitals after drinking milk contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical that can cause kidney stones and lead to life-threatening kidney failure. No new deaths have been recorded, it said. The scandal has so far been blamed for the deaths of four babies and the sickening of about 54,000 other children in China. China's food exports have increasingly suffered, with more than 30 countries restricting Chinese dairy imports and in some cases all Chinese food products.

Teen abandoned in Neb. back with family in Iowa

OMAHA, Neb.: An Iowa teenager who was abandoned at an Omaha hospital under Nebraska's safe-haven law is back home after her grandparents dropped her off to teach her a lesson but soon changed their minds, officials said yesterday. The 14-year-old girl from across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was left at Creighton University Medical Center on Tuesday. She was the 17th child left under a state law that took effect in July but was the first from out of state. Her abandonment set off concerns that Nebraska's broadly written law could make the state a dumping ground for unwanted children. The law absolves anyone of abandonment charges for leaving a child of any age at a state-licensed hospital. The guardian in this case used the law to "teach the girl a lesson," said Todd Landry, who heads Nebraska's division of Children and Family Services.

OPEC to hold meeting in Nov. on oil prices

NEW YORK: OPEC said yesterday that it will hold an extraordinary meeting Nov. 18 to discuss how the widening global financial crisis is affecting oil prices, a move that could lead to a coordinated production cut in a bid to halt crude's steep losses. In a statement published on its Web site, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it is concerned about how the crisis is hampering global economies and world oil markets. The meeting will be held in Vienna, Austria.

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