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Civilians emerge as pawns in South China Sea legal chess game

HONG KONG/MANILA - On tiny specks in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, Vietnamese and Filipino children skip to school each day. Not far away, China is building lighthouses and weather stations on reclaimed land. Further north, a Chinese cruise ship takes "patriotic" tourists to a separate group of contested islands.

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Blatter seeks re-election as scandal engulfs FIFA

ZURICH - The embattled head of world soccer, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is expected to be re-elected on Friday despite growing calls for his resignation amid a corruption scandal that has engulfed the sport's governing body. | Video

World, Sports 3:44am EDT

7.0 magnitude quake strikes offshore Alaska: USGS

- An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck off the southwest coast of Alaska late on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

4:11am EDT

U.S. reaches deals with four more banks under Swiss program

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - Four more Swiss banks have cut deals with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid possible prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, the department said on Thursday.

Apple fails to disqualify antitrust monitor in e-books case

NEW YORK - A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Apple Inc's bid to disqualify an antitrust compliance monitor appointed after the technology company was found liable for conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.

Congress sets hearing on Takata, automakers expand recalls

DETROIT - Five automakers on Thursday widened recalls of cars and trucks with Takata Corp air bags and the U.S. Congress set a hearing next week on the safety issue that has been linked to six deaths.

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Rebels capture last Syrian town in Idlib province

AMMAN - The Syrian army has pulled back from the northwestern city of Ariha after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the last city in Idlib province in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border that was still held by the government.