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UN: El Nino worst in 15 years

GENEVA -- The "El Nino" phenomenon, which sparks global climate extremes this year, is the worst in more than 15 years, the UN weather agency said, warning it was already causing severe droughts and flooding. The World Meteorological Organization said El Nino, which occurs every two to seven years, had resurfaced a few months ago, became "mature and strong", and was expected to become even more powerful by the end of the year. "Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Nino, which is the strongest in more than 15 years," WMO chief Michel Jarraud said in a statement. El Nino is triggered by a warming in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It can cause unusually heavy rains in some …

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Turkey foils Istanbul terror plot

Antalya, Turkey – Turkish authorities foiled a plot to stage a “major’’ attack in Istanbul on the same day as the deadly gun and suicide attacks in Paris, a senior official said on Sunday. Police on Friday detained five people in Istanbul, the source told AFP, including a suspected close associate of the notorious Islamic State (IS) group militant known as “Jihadi John’’ who Washington believes was likely killed in a recent drone strike in Syria. “We believe they were planning an attack in Istanbul on the same day as the Paris attacks’’ on Friday, the official said on condition of anonymity. “The initial investigation shows we foiled a major attack.’’ Aine Lesley Davis – like “Jihadi John’’ a British citizen who guarded foreign prisoners in Syria – was among the IS suspects detained …

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UN mum over report Sec-Gen Ban to visit North Korea this week

Seoul – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit North Korea’s capital Pyongyang this week, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, though there was no confirmation from either the United Nations or the South Korean foreign ministry. The Yonhap report quoted an unnamed UN source, who expected Ban would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in what could mark a rare diplomatic opening by the isolated state. “It is impossible that the UN Secretary-General will not meet the leader of North Korea, a UN member state, as he visits the country,” the source told Yonhap, adding that the trip would likely provide significant momentum to resolve issues on the Korean Peninsula. Ban, who is South Korean, had earlier this year made plans to visit an industrial park in the North operated …

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World leaders vow vigorous response after terror spree

Antalya, Turkey – World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group’s terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama calling the violence an “attack on the civilized world’’ and Russian President Vladimir Putin urging “global efforts’’ to confront the threat. But beyond the tough talk and calls for action, there was little indication of how leaders intended to escalate the assault on the extremist group. The attacks in the heart of Europe - combined with earlier incidents in Lebanon and Turkey, as well as the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt - suggest the Islamic State militants are reaching beyond their base in Iraq and Syria, an expansion the West has feared. “The skies have been darkened by …

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France launches air strikes in Syria; investigation widens

Paris/Brussels – French warplanes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria on Sunday as police in Europe widened their investigations into coordinated attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people. The French government knew attacks were being planned and more are being planned, not just in France, but also in Europe, according to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday’s suicide bombings and shootings, which have re-ignited a row over Europe’s refugee crisis and drawn calls to block a huge influx of Muslim asylum-seekers. French police have launched an international hunt for a Belgian-born man they believe helped organize the assaults with two of his brothers. One of the brothers died in the attacks, while the second is under arrest in Belgium, a judicial source said. A further two …

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Iraq warned of attacks before assault

Baghdad – Senior Iraqi intelligence officials warned members of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group of imminent assaults by the militant organization just one day before last week’s deadly attacks in Paris killed 129 people, The Associated Press has learned. Iraqi intelligence sent a dispatch saying the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had ordered an attack on coalition countries fighting against them in Iraq and Syria, as well as on Iran and Russia, through bombings or other attacks in the days ahead. The dispatch said the Iraqis had no specific details on when or where the attack would take place, and a senior French security official told the AP that French intelligence gets this kind of communication “all the time’’ and “every day.’’ Without commenting specifically on the Iraqi warning, a …

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Myanmar’s opposition wins 77.3% of parliamentary seats in polls

By PNA/Xinhua Yangon – Myanmar’s opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has won 880 parliamentary seats or 77.3 percent out of a total of 1,139 in the election, according to the Union Election Commission on Monday. Of the 880 seats, 254 are in the House of Representatives (Lower House), 135 in the House of Nationalities (Upper House) and 474 in the Region or State Parliament, as well as 17 ethnic representatives to the Region or State Parliament. As the NLD has secured 389 seats as absolute majority in the two Houses, the party is strong enough to gain rights to form the new government independently under the country’s constitution. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party has taken 115 seats, accounting for 10 percent of the total, including …

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World Newsbits for November 17, 2015

25 BODIES FOUND AFTER LANDSLIDE HITS EAST CHINA VILLAGE BEIJING (AP) – The death toll from a landslide that buried homes in eastern China has risen to 25 people with 12 others still missing, a local government said Monday. A torrent of mud and rocks unleashed by heavy rains buried nearly 30 homes in a village in Zhejiang province on Friday night. The Lishui city government, which administers Lidong village, where the landslide happened, said that 25 bodies had been found as well as one survivor, who was in stable condition. 2 ZEBRAS FLEE CIRCUS, RUN THROUGH PHILADELPHIA STREETS PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A pair of zebras escaped from a circus and went running through the streets of west Philadelphia before they were recaptured, police said. The two animals somehow fled the UniverSoul Circus …

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#PrayForSyria trends on Twitter

After a series of terror attacks that killed 129 people in the French capital last Friday, November 13, French President Francois Hollande denounced the attacks; the country's worst in history, saying it was an “act of war” and vowed to hit back against the Islamic State “without mercy”. On Sunday night, November 15, French officials said that 12 planes including 10 fighter jets had dropped 20 bombs in Raqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria. The air strikes destroyed an IS command post, a jihadist recruitment center, a munitions depot and a terrorist training camp. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France had “legitimacy” to take action against ISIS following the attacks. Today, the hashtag "PrayForSyria" trended as people from all over the world took to social media their dismay of the air strikes which …

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World leaders vowed to lessen global warming by 2 degrees at Paris climate summit

ANTALYA -- Leaders of the world's top economies vowed to seek a deal to stave off catastrophic global warming at the upcoming UN conference in Paris, according to a draft statement drawn up Monday, November 16, at a summit in Turkey. Negotiators at the Group of 20 summit haggled through the night on the text of the statement as Saudi Arabia and India initially refused to include specific climate goals like curbing global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Farenheit), sources said. "Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time," said the draft communique which will  undergo a final review by leaders later in the day. We affirm our determination to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force," at the COP21 talks, …

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