Palestinian death toll rises to 74 as Israel hits Gaza over rocket fire

GAZA/JERUSALEM - At least 74 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israel's Gaza offensive, Palestinian officials said on Thursday, and militants kept up rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and other cities in warfare showing no signs of ending soon. | Video

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Kerry faces uphill battle to defuse Afghan election standoff

KABUL - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive to a sceptical audience in Afghanistan this week to try to resolve a deepening crisis over a disputed presidential election which has stirred ethnic tensions in the fragile country.

World, Afghanistan 8:52am EDT

Seized nuclear material in Iraq 'low grade': U.N. agency

VIENNA - The U.N. atomic agency said on Thursday it believed nuclear material which Iraq said had fallen into the hands of insurgents was "low grade" and did not pose a significant security risk.

World, United Nations, Iraq 7:29am EDT

Australian minister under fire for not meeting Tamil groups on Sri Lanka trip

COLOMBO - A Tamil group criticised Australia's immigration minister on Thursday for visiting northern Sri Lanka without meeting Tamil leaders, days after Australia returned a boat of asylum seekers, including Tamils, under its hardline border security policy.

Fed independence questioned as Republicans ramp up pressure

WASHINGTON - A surge of Republican pressure is bringing the Federal Reserve's long-held independence into question again, as conservative lawmakers seek to place the U.S. central bank under tougher scrutiny.

4:02am EDT

Parched California proposes steep fines for over-watering lawns

SAN FRANCISCO - Regulators in drought-stricken California are proposing stringent new conservation measures to limit outdoor water use, including fines of up to $500 a day for using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

U.N. evacuates dozens of foreign staff from Libya

TRIPOLI - The United Nations has evacuated dozens of foreign staff from its mission in Libya due to a deteriorating security situation in the North African country, a U.N. spokesman said on Thursday.