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In brief: Mubarak’s health in ‘dangerous’ phase

Cairo – Hosni Mubarak’s health sharply deteriorated Wednesday, days after he was sentenced to life in prison, and specialists were evaluating whether to transfer him to a better-equipped hospital outside the penal system, security officials said.

The deposed leader’s health scare added to the uncertainty engulfing Egypt, where powerful political groups are seeking to bar Mubarak’s former prime minister from the presidential runoff and derail the election.

Officials at Cairo’s Torah prison said the 84-year-old Mubarak’s condition had moved to a “dangerous” phase and that doctors administered oxygen five times to help him breathe. He was also suffering from shock, high blood pressure and severe depression, according to the officials.

Suicide bombings, airstrike kill dozens

Kabul, Afghanistan – On the deadliest day in Afghanistan this year, 22 civilians were killed and 50 were wounded Wednesday in two suicide bombings in the restive southern province of Kandahar, while 18 civilians were reported killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in eastern Logar province.

Coalition officials disputed Afghan reports of civilian casualties in the predawn airstrike, which they said was ordered after a joint Afghan-coalition force came under fire from insurgents while trying to capture a Taliban leader in the district of Baraki Barak. An Afghan provincial official in Logar alleged that many of the victims were young children, but it was impossible to confirm the accounts immediately.

France to lower retirement to 60

Paris – France’s new Socialist government moved Wednesday to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 years old for certain workers.

New French President Francois Hollande, who won election last month on a wave of voter anger at austerity measures, proved Wednesday that his leftist campaign rhetoric was not just bluster.

On Wednesday, Hollande’s government presented a draft decree at a Cabinet meeting that returns the retirement age to 60 for those who enter the workforce at 18 or 19 years old and have contributed long enough to the pension system. The right to retire at 60 was seen as a pillar of France’s social benefit system for decades.

The government said the decree, affecting about one in six retiring workers, will be finalized later this month and take effect in November.


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