World briefs (2/23/13)

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Morsi sets date for elections

CAIRO -- Egypt's president set parliamentary elections to begin in April because of the ongoing political turmoil in the country.

President Mohammed Morsi scheduled the staggered, four-stage voting process to begin April 27 and end in June. The newly elected parliament would convene on July 6, according to a decree issued late Thursday night.

He hopes the election will end the political turmoil that has beset Egypt for the past two years, since the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. But Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads one of the main opposition groups, the National Salvation Front, wrote on his Twitter account Friday that Mr. Morsi's "decision to go for parliamentary elections amidst severe societal polarization and eroding state authority is a recipe for disaster."

Scud attack in Syria

BEIRUT -- Anti-government activists in Syria said Scud missiles fired by the Syrian military slammed into at least three rebel-held districts of Aleppo on Friday, flattening dozens of houses, leaving at least 12 civilians dead and an undetermined number of others, perhaps dozens, buried under piles of rubble.

The assertion, corroborated by videos posted on the Internet, came one day after Syrian government targets in central Damascus were hit by multiple car bombings that were among the most deadly and destructive so far in the nearly 2-year-old conflict.

Obama, Japan's PM meet

WASHINGTON -- Japan's new prime minister declared Friday he would make his country a stronger U.S. ally and joined President Barack Obama in warning North Korea that its recent nuclear provocations would not be tolerated.

After meeting Mr. Obama at the While House, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also sent a clear message to China: that while Japan does not want confrontation with Beijing, it won't tolerate challenges to its sovereignty over islands disputed by the two Asian powers.

Pope transfers top official

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI transferred a senior Holy See official, the Vatican said Friday, after his name appeared in Italian media reports about a secret Vatican dossier on the leaking of papal documents.

Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, who as an undersecretary of the Vatican's Foreign Ministry had played a key role in efforts to improve Vatican financial transparency, was named ambassador to Colombia.

Dock workers halt cargoes

SANTOS, Brazil -- Dock workers in Brazil held up loading at Latin America's biggest port, Port of Santos, for six hours Friday in a protest over job security as they consider a strike that would disrupt shipments of everything from sugar to soybeans and corn.

Brazil is the world's largest exporter of coffee, sugar and soybeans, and supplies are now arriving from record harvests.

Also in the world ...

Torrential rain of an intensity not seen in decades flooded roads in Athens, Greece, on Friday, overturning cars and stranding dozens of motorists, including a 28-year-old woman who died of what appeared to be a heart attack. ... Jeremy Paxman, the host of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s "Newsnight" program, said it was well-known that former "Top of the Pops" presenter Jimmy Savile had a penchant for young girls. Transcripts of Mr. Paxman's interview were published Friday by Britain's publicly funded broadcaster as part of a probe that examined why "Newsnight" didn't air a report in 2011 about allegations of Savile's sexual abuse.

-- Compiled from news services

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