Japan to resume whale hunting
TOKYO -- Japan said Friday that it would resume its controversial research whaling in the Southern Ocean next year under a redesigned program that would address objections raised by an international court.
In a statement, Minister of Agriculture Yoshimasa Hayashi said Japan would submit a new plan for research whaling next fall to the International Whaling Commission that would allow it to restart its annual hunts in waters off Antarctica in 2015.
Japan canceled this year's hunt this month after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the hunts were in violation of Japan's legal obligations under an international treaty banning commercial whaling.
Obama heads to Asia
WASHINGTON -- The White House is focusing President Barack Obama's upcoming Asia-Pacific trip on the economic benefits of closer ties to the region, but regional security concerns are likely to be pushed higher on the president's agenda because of the tense situation between Russia and Ukraine.
Japan and South Korea, two of the four countries Mr. Obama will visit next week, are eyeing the fluid developments in Eastern Europe through the lens of their own sea and air disputes with China, and North Korean provocations.
First lady Michelle Obama will not be accompanying the president on his four-nation trip, which also includes Malaysia and the Philippines.
Syria's chemical weapons
GENEVA -- The international organization overseeing the process reported Friday that the country had delivered another shipment of toxic agents for destruction abroad, bringing the program three-quarters of the way to completion.
The latest consignment consisted of eight containers, including "priority one" precursor chemicals for making sarin gas, a spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.
Even with the recent speedup, there appears little likelihood that Syria will be able to finish the job by the revised deadline of April 27.
Algerian president wins
Algeria's ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika secured a fourth five-year tenure Friday after amassing nearly 82 percent of votes, according to initial results announced by Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz.
The landslide victory in Thursday's election was widely foreseen, despite opposition from Islamists and leftist groups, and his poor health. Mr. Bouteflika, 77, is recovering from a stroke.
Earthquake shakes Mexico
ACAPULCO, Mexico -- A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake at about 9:30 a.m. local time was centered on a long-dormant fault line northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco.
Obama campaign gurus
LONDON -- The British general election next year will pit one Obama campaign mastermind against another.
Jim Messina, who managed President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, had already signed up last August to consult for Prime Minister David Cameron and the ruling Conservative Party. Now, David Axelrod, architect of Mr. Obama's rise from first-term senator to the White House, will be working for the opposition Labor Party.