World briefs: Thai court limits emergency rule

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BANGKOK -- A Thai court Wednesday ordered the government not to use force to contain demonstrations aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a day after clashes left five people dead and injured at least 69.

The Civil Court ruled that protests that began Oct. 31 have been peaceful and a state of emergency isn't needed, according to a statement. It stopped short of ordering the government to cancel an emergency decree imposed Jan. 21.

The decision came a day after the police said they were attacked with grenades and guns while attempting to clear a protest zone in central Bangkok, and provides a new obstacle to Ms. Yingluck's efforts to retain power. The Election Commission Wednesday also raised doubts that results from a Feb. 2 vote could be announced before a constitutional deadline.

U.S., Philippines near deal

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines is "very close" to completing an agreement to boost the number of U.S. troops allowed into the country, President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday.

Officials from the Philippines and the United States plan a sixth round of talks in early March, after discussions hit a snag last year on issues of access and control over facilities that may be built by the U.S.

The Philippines is locked in a dispute with China over territory in the resource-rich South China Sea. The tensions have spurred the Philippines to seek to expand military links with the U.S., a treaty ally.

Bomb blasts kill at least 5

BEIRUT -- Two powerful explosions struck a busy area in southern Beirut near an Iranian cultural center on Wednesday, killing at least five people and wounding dozens in the latest of a series of bomb attacks on civilians as violence continued to spill over from the war in neighboring Syria.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an offshoot of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility, saying that it would continue such attacks until the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah withdrew its forces from Syria, where they are supporting the government's fight against Syrian rebels and foreign-backed jihadist groups.

Lopez held in military jail

CARACAS -- Detained Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez faces arraignment at a military prison outside Caracas amid calls from supporters for more protests after a fifth person died following violence Tuesday.

Mr. Lopez hasn't been allowed to meet with legal counsel a day after being arrested and sent to the Ramo Verde military prison, his lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez said Wednesday. A federal court said the move to the military site from the Palace of Justice was done to protect the 42-year-old opposition leader's life, according to Mr. Gutierrez.

Mr. Lopez's arrest threatens to exacerbate tensions in Venezuela as President Nicolas Maduro struggles to contain opposition to his 10-month-old government.

Also in the world ...

Turkish President Abdullah Gul told his 4.3 million followers on Twitter Tuesday that he shared their concerns about a restrictive new Internet bill. Then he said he'd signed it into law anyway. ... Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered to work as an unofficial adviser to Rupert Murdoch as revelations of illegal phone hacking engulfed the mogul's media empire, according to an email made public Wednesday at the trial of several former Murdoch lieutenants.


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