London shares fell on Thursday as investors remained gloomy in the wake of Thursday's poor figures from supermarket sector leader Tesco. The benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 14.17 points or 0.22 percent to 6,495.80 points at 8:22 am. Tesco sank another 2.9 pence or 0.85 percent to 337.10 pence following the retailer's admission on Wednesday that total sales slid 1.2 percent in the 13 weeks to November 23 from a year earlier. "Continuing pressures on UK household finances have made the grocery market more challenging for everyone since the summer and our third quarter performance reflects this," said chief executive Philip Clarke.
By David Stanway and Niu Shuping BEIJING (Reuters) - China's new rural reforms will stop short of giving commercial firms free rein to buy land and will focus instead on creating bigger family farms, the country's top rural official said in remarks published on Thursday. China last month unveiled its boldest land reforms in decades, officially allowing rural collectively-owned land, a legacy of the planned economy, to be transferred, rented or pooled, but officials have called for caution, telling local governments not to "rush into action". Chen Xiwen, head of the Communist Party's working group on rural affairs, told the official People's Daily newspaper the land reforms had been "misunderstood", and that "clear preconditions and restrictions" would govern the reorganization. Chen told the People's Daily the "bottom line" was to ensure agricultural land was not put to industrial or commercial use.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Foreign diplomats have converged on a tense Ukrainian capital, which is gripped by massive protests against the government's decision to freeze ties with the EU and turn to Moscow instead.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council will vote Thursday on a measure authorizing thousands of African and French troops to end anarchy in the Central African Republic, where massacres have led to warnings of genocide-style strife. As the council prepared for the vote, shots rang out early Thursday and blasts from heavy weapons rocked several districts of the Central African capital. The automatic gunfire whose origin was not immediately clear started around 5:30 am (0430 GMT) in the north of Bangui and then spread to other neighbourhoods not far from the city centre. The UN resolution, which envoys say is certain to be passed unanimously, also orders an arms embargo against the huge, impoverished nation where chaos has reigned since rebels forced the president to flee in March.
NEW YORK (AP) — With a flick of the switch, a 76-foot Norway Spruce officially became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree after it was illuminated for the first time this holiday season in a ceremony that's been held since 1933.
Hazardous air pollution forced schools to shut or suspend outdoor activities in at least two cities in eastern China, where residents complained of the yellow skies and foul smells that are symptomatic of the country's crippling smog crisis. China's stability-obsessed leadership has become increasingly concerned by the abysmal air quality in cities, as it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and rising inequality in the world's second-largest economy. In Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, the sun was the color of "salted egg yolk" on Wednesday as the government raised the "red alert" for poor air quality for the first time, state-run news media reported. Levels above 300 are considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge says he'll do his best to rule by early next year on a legal challenge to a same-sex marriage ban in Utah, after an attorney called for an end to the prohibition by arguing that the precedent has been set by the U.S. Supreme Court and discrimination has gone on long enough.
US Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday China's air zone had caused "significant apprehension" and Beijing needed to reduce Asia-Pacific tensions to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability. Biden, speaking to about 60 US business leaders in the Chinese capital, expressed alarm over the country's move to expand its military influence in the skies over the East China Sea, and said he discussed the issue during more than four hours of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. "China's recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defence identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region," Biden said. China declared last month that it had established an air defence identification zone (ADIZ), over an area off its southeast coast that includes a group of islands disputed with Japan.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. (AP) — Wildlife workers will try again Thursday to lead 41 pilot whales out of dangerously shallow waters in Everglades National Park and back to the deep ocean waters where they belong.
By Yoshifumi Takemoto TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's ruling party could set up a British-style agency to shut down the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, taking control of a project now managed by the station's embattled operator, a senior party policymaker said on Thursday. A huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, and exposed a lack of preparation by Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco. Tepco has proceeded with initial decommissioning steps, including the tricky removal of spent fuel rod assemblies from a badly damaged reactor building. "It is likely that the government will eventually have to take responsibility" for the decommissioning, Tadamori Oshima, head of the Liberal Democratic Party's task force on disaster reconstruction, told Reuters.
Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Security forces early Thursday ended an hours-long siege at a mall in the northern city of Kirkuk but not before militants killed nine people, security officials and medics said. Attacks by militants were also launched Wednesday in Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah, but the assault on the Jawaher Mall in Kirkuk was the deadliest.
An Australian DJ whose royal prank call to a London hospital resulted in the suicide of a nurse has settled her workplace lawsuit with the network and resigned. Mel Greig also won a public concession from her employer, Southern Cross Austereo, that she had not been responsible for broadcasting the call and had suggested it be edited before being aired. "Mel Greig wishes to make it clear that, as an announcer, she was not responsible for the decision to broadcast the hoax call," Austereo said in a statement published late Wednesday. The concessions were made in an announcement from Austereo that it had "amicably resolved" an industrial tribunal case with Greig, who had filed a workplace safety complaint over the prank.