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BEIJING (AP) — China's Defense Ministry on Thursday accused the U.S. of militarizing the South China Sea as Beijing makes increasingly bold moves to assert its claim to virtually all of the sea's waters, islands and reefs.

The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution to tackle illegal smuggling of endangered wildlife like elephants and rhinoceros. While the resolution -- the first of its kind -- is not legally binding, it reflects worldwide opposition to poaching. Gabon and Germany sponsored the resolution, which was also supported by more than 70 countries.


Scientists said on Thursday a comprehensive genetic analysis found that these populations are made up of two entirely distinct species, with those in Africa different from the others. The scientific name for the golden jackal is Canis aureus. The researchers proposed renaming those in Africa Canis anthus, or the African golden wolf.


GENEVA (AP) — Michel Platini hopes he made a decisive move early in the seven-month campaign to become FIFA president.


Psy, Paris Hilton and Queen Elizabeth II all made it, but South Korean President Park Geun-Hye turned down her chance of immortality in the first Asian outpost of France's famous waxwork museum, Musee Grevin, that opened in Seoul Thursday. The new museum's focus is firmly on the world of entertainment and, in particular, stars of the "Hallyu" or "Korean Wave" of pop songs and TV melodramas that have become the country's most potent cultural export. As a result, waxworks of global icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna rub shoulders with the likes of actress Choi Ji-Woo -- star of one of the original Hallyu dramas "Winter Sonata" who enjoys a major fan following in Japan.


NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks declined in early trading Thursday, following disappointing results from several big companies including Procter & Gamble and Facebook. A positive report on U.S. economic growth did little to help the market.


China's Defence Ministry on Thursday accused the United States of "militarizing" the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills there, ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a key regional security meeting in Malaysia next week. China has repeatedly urged Washington not to take sides in the escalating maritime dispute over the area, where the Asian giant last year stepped up its creation of artificial islands, alarming neighbors and provoking U.S. criticism. Washington has demanded China halt land reclamation and militarization of the disputed area and pursue a peaceful resolution according to international law.


BEIJING (AP) — Chinese stocks fell again Thursday while other major global markets rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a record low.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The International Olympic Committee will vote Friday on the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, choosing between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.


China's proposed Winter Olympics co-host boasts pristine ski slopes carpeted with artificial snow, but the city once dubbed the country's "fur capital" is also home to tens of thousands of caged rabbits and mink bred for their skins. The Chinese bid, the favourite to win the right to host the 2022 games on Friday, combines ice sports in Beijing with skiing events in Zhangjiakou, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the capital.


By David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a rare admonishment of a close ally, the United States urged the European Union on Wednesday to speak out more forcefully to support Washington in its dispute with China over building and militarization of man-made outposts in the South China Sea. Amy Searight, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said Washington welcomed EU calls for a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the sea and respect for international law. "It would be helpful if the EU would be a little more clear in terms of backing up these principles," she told a discussion on U.S. and EU policies toward East Asia at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

By Mirwais Harooni and Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan said on Wednesday that Mullah Omar, the elusive leader of the Taliban movement fighting to topple the government, died more than two years ago. The announcement came a day or so before a second round of peace talks had been tentatively scheduled, and news of the fate of the one-eyed Omar could deepen Taliban divisions over whether to pursue negotiations with Kabul and who should replace him. Omar had not been seen in public since fleeing when the Taliban was toppled from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, and there has been speculation for years among militant circles that he was either incapacitated or had died.


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