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Hong Kong police begin clearing major protest site

HONG KONG - Scuffles broke out on Wednesday as Hong Kong police, many with helmets and batons, began clearing protesters from a major pro-democracy demonstration site in the city, Reuters witnesses said.

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Coal mine accident in northern China kills 24: Xinhua

SHANGHAI - A coal mine fire in China's northern Liaoning province has killed 24 workers and left 52 injured, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, underscoring the poor safety record of the world's biggest coal producing country.

9:12pm EST

Argentina president, back after sick leave, vows to fight hedge funds

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez returned to the public stage in fighting form on Tuesday after a 3-week break due to an infection, declaring in a speech to businessmen she would not be held ransom by hedge funds suing the country.

9:39pm EST

Domestic pressures in U.S., Iran threaten slow-moving nuclear talks

VIENNA/WASHINGTON - A seven-month extension in talks between world powers and Iran on a deal to curb its nuclear program emboldened critics in Washington and Tehran, threatening to undermine further talks.

United Nations, Davos 8:25pm EST

China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas

NEW DELHI - When eight South Asian leaders gather for a summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, they will meet in a conference center donated by China to its cash-strapped Himalayan neighbor Nepal 27 years ago.

China 3:22pm EST

Australian minister apologizes for submarine firm canoe remark

SYDNEY - Australia's defense minister on Wednesday apologized after saying he would not trust the government-owned submarine firm "to build a canoe", comments that fueled expectations that most work in a A$40 billion ($34 billion) program will go offshore.

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