World briefs: U.S. journalist missing in Syria

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BEIRUT -- An American journalist has been missing in Syria since he was kidnapped more than one month ago, his family said Wednesday, less than two years after he was held by government forces in Libya while covering that country's civil war.

The family of James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., said he was kidnapped in northwest Syria by unknown gunmen on Nov. 22.

Mr. Foley, 39, has worked in a number of conflict zones around the Middle East, including Syria, Libya and Iraq. He was contributing videos to Agence France-Press while in Syria.

Bedouins evacuated

KHIRBET AL-MEITEH, West Bank -- The Israeli military on Wednesday ordered dozens of Palestinian Bedouins to leave their communities so it could conduct military exercises in a remote area of the West Bank.

The military said the order was temporary, and that the Palestinians were living illegally in closed military zones. The Bedouins say they have lived in the area for decades. While the army has issued temporary evacuation orders in the past, Bedouins say they have increased in frequency, and they charge the practice is meant to pressure them to leave their homes.

The rich get richer in '12

NEW YORK -- The richest people on the planet got even richer in 2012, adding $241 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world's 100 wealthiest individuals.

The aggregate net worth of the world's top moguls stood at $1.9 trillion at the market close on Dec. 31, according to the index.

Carlos Slim, 72, the telecommunications magnate who controls Mexico's America Movil SAB, maintained his title as the richest person on earth. His net worth rose $13.4 billion -- or 21.6 percent -- through Dec. 31. U.S. software mogul Bill Gates, 57, ranks second, trailing Mr. Slim by $12.5 billion.

Pursuing Marcos' wealth

MANILA, Philippines -- A commission that has been pursuing the wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos should be abolished, despite the fact that much of his allegedly ill-gotten wealth has not been recovered, its chairman said Wednesday.

Andres Bautista, the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, told reporters that he had recommended to President Benigno Aquino III that the special commission be phased out.

Chavez secrecy criticized

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's opposition demanded that the government reveal specifics of President Hugo Chavez's condition Wednesday, criticizing secrecy surrounding the ailing leader's health more than three weeks after his cancer surgery in Cuba.

Opposition coalition leader Ramon Guillermo Aveledo said at a news conference that the information provided by government officials "continues to be insufficient."

Mr. Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the Dec. 11 operation, and Vice President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said the president's condition remained "delicate" due to complications from a respiratory infection.

Also in the world ...

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt will take part in a private trip to North Korea led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday. ... Haiti on Wednesday "vehemently" protested travel advisories recently issued by the U.S. and Canadian governments.



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