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Tropical storm could hit Florida

Tropical Storm Gamma – the 24th storm of the busiest hurricane season on record – formed on Friday off the coast of Central America, and forecasters said it could threaten Florida by the beginning of next week, perhaps as a hurricane.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for the coast of Belize and the Bay Islands of Honduras. Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, which was hit hard in October by Hurricane Wilma. Six to 15 inches of rain are possible.

The long-term track from the National Hurricane Center indicated that Gamma may take a path similar to Wilma’s and head northeast toward the Florida Peninsula.

Prince Charles sues over private journal

London Prince Charles took legal action Friday against a British newspaper that published details from his private journal, which included his description of Chinese officials as “appalling old waxworks.”

The prince’s office said it had lodged papers at the High Court against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail on Sunday, for breach of confidentiality and copyright.

The journal, entitled “The Handover of Hong Kong, or The Great Chinese Takeaway,” contained the heir to the British throne’s views on the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong to the Chinese.

The prince’s office, Clarence House, said Charles sent 11 copies of the journal to close friends, and the newspaper obtained a copy without his permission.

Ailing white stork gets prosthetic beak

Tokyo An oriental white stork whose beak snapped off last year after getting stuck in metal wiring got a replacement Friday, a news report said.

Taisa had lost weight since he broke his beak last November because he found it difficult to catch live fish, and no longer got along with his female breeding mate due to stress, keepers at Akita’s Omoriyama Zoo told Kyodo News agency.

Dentist Toshiaki Chiba attached a plastic resin prosthetic to the end of Taisa’s broken beak using a dental adhesive, according to the report.

The birds are a specially protected species in Japan. The country’s last wild oriental white stork died in 1971.

Germans sign off on governing coalition

Berlin Conservative leader Angela Merkel took a last step toward becoming Germany’s first female chancellor Friday when she and other party officials signed a hard-won agreement to form a left-right coalition government.

A smiling Merkel put her signature on the blue-bound, 143-page document that spells out everything from an increase in value-added tax to targets for renewable energy supplies.

Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Union, joined Edmund Stoiber, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and Social Democratic Party chairman Matthias Platzeck in putting their names to the deal.

The signing, largely a formality after congresses from each party voted overwhelmingly to support the agreement last week, is the final hurdle before parliament meets Tuesday to elect the 51-year-old Merkel as the country’s eighth post-World War II chancellor.


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