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U.N. halts food aid for North Korea

Pyongyang The U.N. World Food Program will end all emergency food aid to North Korea by the end of December, the agency’s top official said Thursday following two days of negotiations that failed to change the government’s view.

North Korea argues that it now has enough to feed its 23 million people following an improved harvest this year, supplemented by bilateral assistance from China and South Korea.

Analysts counter that malnutrition remains a serious problem, particularly among women and children. The real reason why the regime is ending emergency assistance and asking nonprofit groups to leave, they said, is the regime’s desire to reduce the number of foreigners living in North Korea and put an end to U.N. monitoring aimed at ensuring that food for hungry citizens isn’t diverted to the military.

Sydney’s race riots prompt new laws

Sydney, Australia Lawmakers in New South Wales state passed emergency laws Thursday giving police new powers to crack down on race rioters after days of unrest plagued Sydney’s southern beach suburbs.

In one of Australia’s worst outbreaks of racial violence, a mob of 5,000 white youths, many of them drunk, descended on Cronulla Beach on Sunday, fought with police and attacked people they believed were Arab. The disturbances continued for three nights.

Under the law, police will be able to cordon off trouble spots and prevent vehicles from entering those areas for up to 48 hours. They also will be allowed to search people and vehicles, and seize vehicles and cell phones for up to a week.

Police also can prevent bars in trouble spots from selling alcohol for up to two days and can declare alcohol-free zones in the city.

U.N. peacekeepers leaving Eritrea

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia The United Nations reluctantly withdrew American and other peacekeeping staff from Eritrea on Thursday and said it faced a crisis in its monitoring of the country’s fragile peace with Ethiopia.

Amid fears of a new war, the U.N. Security Council bowed to Eritrean demands that all Americans, Canadians and Europeans leave. “The situation on the ground is that it is totally unacceptable,” said Undersecretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno. “We don’t want to have the authorities of Eritrea tell us which nationalities we are going to relocate.”


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

updated  Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.