Obama says risky to attack Iran, wants diplomatic fix

WASHINGTON/TEHRAN,  (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday there were important risks to consider before any military strike against Iran and made clear he does not want to see more conflict in the oil-producing Gulf region.

UN victory may push Syria’s Assad into unwinnable war

BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Syria’s victory in dodging a U.N. resolution it deemed a license for regime change may only escalate its internal conflict into a full-fledged civil war that many analysts believe President Bashar al-Assad cannot ultimately win.

Scandal blow puts Indian government in danger

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – There is no clamour for an early general election in India, but the latest blow dealt to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over a massive corruption scandal raises the risk that his wounded government could fall well before its mandate runs out in 2014.

Russia, China veto UN draft backing Arab plan for Syria

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia and China vetoed yesterday a UN resolution that backed an Arab plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit, stalling global efforts to end his bloody crackdown on unrest after hundreds were reported killed in the city of Homs.

Venezuela’s Chavez celebrates coup, opposition angered

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez mounted a lavish celebration yesterday to mark the 20th anniversary of the failed coup that helped launch his political career, as opposition leaders slammed the event as a blemish on the country’s democracy.

Vatican officials contest corruption charges

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – In the latest twist of a messy internal conflict shaking the Vatican, four clerics in the office that manages the tiny city-state yesterday rejected charges of corruption, mismanagement and greed levelled by a former deputy governor.

At least 105 people killed in Syria’s Homs-rights group

BEIRUT, (Reuters) – More than 100 people have been killed in shelling by Syrian armed forces of the city of Homs, and hundreds more have been wounded, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights said on Friday, citing witnesses.

UN court gives life sentence to Khmer Rouge torture chief

PHNOM PENH, (Reuters) – The U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia ruled yesterday that the Khmer Rouge’s prison chief should serve the rest of his life in jail, extending a 19-year sentence handed down in July 2010 that outraged survivors of the “killing fields” regime.

UK energy secretary quits over criminal charges

LONDON, (Reuters) – British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne resigned yesterday after learning he would face criminal charges for allegedly lying to police, a fall from grace that could tweak the dynamics of the coalition government and weaken its environmental agenda.

Critics outraged at Italian court’s rape ruling

ROME, (Reuters) – A ruling by Italy’s highest appeals court that said those charged with gang rape do not always have to go to prison while awaiting trial has outraged women’s groups and some politicians who fear it will make rape a “third-class crime”.

Komen struggles to defuse Planned Parenthood crisis

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The world’s leading breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, struggled yesterday to defuse a growing crisis over its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services.

U.S. tries to ease confusion over Afghan plans

BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – U.S. forces will cede the lead role in combat operations in Afghanistan next year, but will keep fighting alongside Afghan troops, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday, as the Obama administration struggled to clear up confusion over its Afghan exit strategy.

Mali capital paralysed by anti-rebellion protests

BAMAKO, (Reuters) – Hundreds of Malians set up barricades and burned tyres in the streets of Bamako yesterday, shutting down the capital in protests against the government’s handling of a rebellion that has seized several northern towns.

Potter star looks to life without wands or wizards

LONDON, (Reuters) – For Daniel Radcliffe, it’s time to forget Harry Potter. Daniel Radcliffe The 22-year-old actor, inextricably linked to the boy wizard he played throughout the movie franchise, takes on his first adult role in Victorian-era horror film “The Woman in Black”.

Seized cash triggers political furore in Mexico

MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – The discovery in Mexico of almost $2 million cash in the luggage of a state government official has triggered a round of mud-slinging in the run-up to the presidential election in July.

More than 70 dead in Egypt’s worst soccer disaster

-1,000 injured

PORT SAID, Egypt, (Reuters) – Seventy-four people were killed and at least 1,000 injured yesterday when Egyptian soccer fans staged a pitch invasion in the city of Port Said, the deadliest incident since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak from power.

Taliban “poised to retake Afghanistan” after NATO pullout

KABUL, (Reuters) – The U.S. military said in a secret report that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw, raising the prospect of a major failure of Western policy after a costly war.

“Pirate” fishing vessel got UK funds -officials

FREETOWN, (Reuters) – A vessel seized by Sierra Leone authorities for illegally fishing off the West African nation’s coast received funds from a British government development agency through an investment fund, officials said.

Stanford used CD funds for cricket, jets –witness

HOUSTON, (Reuters) – Allen Stanford funneled $2 billion of investor money from his offshore bank to pay operating expenses at his other companies, including money-losing airlines and his cricket concerns, a former Stanford Financial Group accountant said yesterday.

Mexicans overcharged billions for phone, web-study

MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Mexicans have been overcharged $13.4 billion a year for phone and internet services as the industry dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim gouges customers and keeps the economy from growing, a study released yesterday said.

Reuters World News Highlights

AMMAN/UNITED NATIONS – Syrian government forces reasserted control of Damascus suburbs yesterday after beating back rebels at the capital’s gates, ahead of a push at the United Nations for a resolution calling for President Bashar al-Assad to give up powers.

US urges UN council to end ‘neglect,’ act on Syria

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States and other Western countries called on the UN Security Council yesterday to end its “neglect” of the violence raging in Syria and rapidly endorse an Arab League plan for a political transition there.