World briefs: Mobile devices soar globally

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BARCELONA, Spain -- Sometime this year, the world will cross a threshold: There will be more mobile device connections than there are humans.

That doesn't mean every soul on the planet will have a cell phone. But data released Monday by GSMA, an association of cell operators whose Mobile World Congress just opened for a four-day run in Barcelona, shows the total number of mobile connections surging to 7.4 billion this year, up from 6.8 billion in 2012. The world population sits at about 7.1 billion, and is growing far more slowly.

Part of the rise in mobile connections results from customers having more than one at a time. The average user of mobile services -- there were 3.2 billion worldwide last year -- had at least two connections, according to Monday's report by GSMA.

Lost continent uncovered?

LONDON -- The Indian Ocean and some of its islands, scientists say, may lie on top of the remains of an ancient continent pulled apart by plate tectonics between 50 million and 100 million years ago.

Researchers from Norway, Germany, and Britain, writing in Nature Geoscience, have concluded that several places in the Indian Ocean, now far apart, conceal the remnants of a prehistoric land mass they have named Mauritia.

Geologists believe that the Indian Ocean is harboring other fragments of ancient continental crust similar to the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands about 900 miles east of Africa. They believe the Seychelles separated from the Indian subcontinent 80 million to 90 million years ago.

U.S. denies abuse

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. military has determined that its forces weren't involved in the alleged abduction and killing of civilians in a troubled province in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

A day earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused U.S. special forces troops and Afghans working for them of torturing civilians in Wardak, a strategic but violence-wracked province southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Anti-tobacco measures

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a package of anti-tobacco measures aimed at curbing demand in the world's second-largest cigarette market behind China, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Effective June 1, the law bans smoking in public areas including workplaces, stairwells of apartment buildings and near schools and hospitals.

Iran nuclear talks

WASHINGTON -- It has been eight months since they last met, but negotiators representing Iran and six leading industrial powers acknowledged Monday that they may have little new to say to each other when the two sides gather for talks about Iran's nuclear future.

Negotiations on proposed limits for Iran's nuclear program are set to begin today in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

New leader sworn in

SEOUL, South Korea -- The country's new president, Park Geun-hye, was sworn into office Monday, facing far more complicated fissures both within South Korea and with North Korea than her father did during his Cold War dictatorship, which ended with his assassination 33 years ago.

Ms. Park, 61, is the first child of a former president to take power in South Korea, as well as the first woman, a remarkable turn for a country where political and corporate leaders are predominantly male.

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