World briefs: Syrian airstrike kills at least 20
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BEIRUT -- Syrian rebels accused the authorities Tuesday of launching an airstrike on an olive press "filled with people" in fields just outside the northern city of Idlib, killing at least 20 people and wounding 50 as they waited to have their olives turned into oil.
Two activist groups, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, and the Local Coordination Committees, which rely on local activists for their reports, both said the strike exacted a heavy toll on civilians. It was only the latest in many such attacks that have caused casualties among noncombatants in Syria's grinding civil war.
The authorities made no immediate comment on the charges, which came as rebel forces sought to secure a string of strategic gains, including a dam on the Euphrates River that they claimed to have overrun before dawn Monday.
PARIS -- France announced Tuesday that it plans to vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state at the U.N. General Assembly this week.
With the announcement, France becomes the first major European country to come out in favor, dealing a setback to Israel. The timing of the announcement appears aimed at swaying other European nations.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament that France has long supported Palestinian ambitions for statehood and "will respond 'Yes'" when the issue comes up for a vote "out of a concern for coherency."
WASHINGTON -- Mexico's incoming president told President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he hopes to help him pass a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration policy.
"We fully support your proposal," President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto told Mr. Obama at the White House, part of a visit to the U.S. days ahead of his inauguration Saturday. "We won't be demanding what you should do or shouldn't do. We want to participate. We want to contribute. We want to be part of this."
Democrats are hopeful that long-stalled immigration efforts will gain traction on Capitol Hill among Republicans chastened by the party's performance among Hispanics in the Nov. 6 elections. Exit polls showed Mr. Obama with 71 percent of the Hispanic vote; GOP challenger Mitt Romney took 29 percent.
NEW DELHI -- India's ruling Congress party presented an idea Tuesday that it hopes will win it the next elections: cash handouts sent directly into the bank accounts of poor people, replacing a corrupt and inefficient web of subsidies and rations that often fail to reach the intended beneficiaries.
"We think this is a game changer," said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, choosing to unveil the plan alongside another senior cabinet member at Congress party headquarters rather than government offices.
The idea of cash transfers is founded on an effort to give every Indian a unique identification card.
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Forensic experts from Switzerland, France and Russia on Tuesday took 20 samples each from the remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after his grave in the presidential headquarters here was opened.
The experts will take the samples to their respective countries to carry out tests to determine if Arafat, who died on Nov. 11, 2004, at a military hospital in France, was killed by polonium, a poisonous radioactive material.
First Published November 28, 2012 12:00 am