World news briefs: 12/8/12

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Fiscal lull seen for Germany

GARCHING, Germany -- Germany's economy is slowing and will probably stagnate in 2013, the country's central bank said Friday, sharply cutting its growth forecast.

Considering "the difficult economic situation in some euro area countries and widespread uncertainty, economic growth will be lower than previously assumed," the Bundesbank said.

Germany's gross domestic product is likely to expand by only 0.4 percent next year, the bank said, down from its June forecast for 1.6 percent growth.

The bank did sound an optimistic note, saying that GDP stood to rise by 1.9 percent in 2014 "if the euro area banking and sovereign debt crisis does not escalate further and uncertainty among investors and consumers gradually subsides."

China landmark takeover

TORONTO -- Canada approved China's biggest overseas energy acquisition, a $15.1 billion takeover by state-owned CNOOC of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen, but vowed Friday to reject any future foreign takeovers in the oil sands sector by state-owned companies.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government would only consider future takeover deals in the oil sands by state-owned companies in exceptional circumstances.

"To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead," Mr. Harper said.

Scientists took money

TOKYO -- Influential Japanese scientists who help set national radiation exposure limits have for years had trips paid for by the country's nuclear plant operators to attend overseas meetings of the world's top academic group on radiation safety, according to a 600-page parliamentary investigation into last year's Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

Some of these same scientists have consistently given optimistic assessments about the health risks of radiation, but their pivotal role in setting policy after the March 2011 tsunami and ensuing nuclear meltdowns is now under question.

Temblor causes small waves

TOKYO -- A strong earthquake Friday struck the same Japanese coast devastated by last year's massive quake and tsunami, generating small waves but no immediate reports of heavy damage. Several people along the northeastern coast were reportedly injured.

The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 and struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Miyagi prefecture at 5:18 p.m., the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Also in the world ...

Northern Ireland's extremists can be beaten through a commitment to political sacrifice, compromise and vigilance, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday as she visited Belfast. ... Less extravagance and formality: Those and other directives governing conduct by Chinese officials have been issued Tuesday by the newly inaugurated Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, according to state media.



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