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World datelines

Argentina

WASHINGTON — President Bush warned Argentina not to expect any U.S. aid through global lending institutions unless it adopts a long-term economic plan. "Argentina, and nations throughout our hemisphere, need to strengthen (their) commitment to market-based reform, not weaken it," the president told the Organization of American States on Wednesday. "Half-measures will not halve the pain, only prolong it."

Brazil

BRASILIA — High-profile health minister, Jose Serra, who took on the pharmaceutical and tobacco giants over AIDS drugs and smoking, launched his candidacy for president with hopes of leading the ruling coalition in October elections.

Cambodia

PHNOM PENH — King Norodom Sihanouk has told Cambodians not to let political violence and intimidation stop them voting in the country's first ever local elections on Feb. 3.

China

BEIJING — A robber armed with dynamite held 31 people hostage on a bus before surrendering after a standoff with police, police said Thursday. Li Yong, 25, commandeered the bus before dawn Tuesday in Zengcheng, a city in the southern province of Guangdong near Hong Kong. Li, a former soldier, took only $36 before the driver called police, police said.

England

DURHAM — George Rochester, a prominent physicist whose discovery of a subatomic particle called the kaon helped set off the period of intensive scientific inquiry that culminated in the development of quark theory, died here Tuesday at age 93.

France

PARIS — Airbus will reduce its work force by 1,000 employees this year because of a decline in new orders from airlines hit by a devastating slump, the European aircraft maker said.

PARIS — Michel Poniatowski, a conservative former interior minister died Tuesday at age 79. The cause of death was not immediately released.

Gambia

BANJUL — Legislative elections started peacefully across this tiny West African nation on Thursday amid an opposition boycott that has set the stage for a massive ruling party victory.

India

RANCHI — A male elephant, deserted by his herd in eastern India, went berserk and trampled to death at least 10 villagers, including two children, police said. The distraught tusker smashed thatched huts and killed or injured their occupants in the adjoining villages of Amchuha and Pakuria in Jharkand state, an official told Reuters.

PATNA — After two days of treatment for exhaustion and stomach pain, the Dalai Lama left a hotel Thursday and flew to a gathering at Bodhgaya, where Buddhists believe the founder of their religion gained enlightenment.

Indonesia

JAKARTA — Police were on standby across the nation as student groups threatened to take to protest a government plan to raise fuel prices.

Nigeria

LAGOS — Police arrested dozens of labor activists, including the leader of Nigeria's largest coalition of unions, as a general strike to protest rising fuel prices weakened in its second day.

Norway

OSLO — Two neo-Nazis were convicted of stabbing a black Norwegian teen to death last year, a slaying that outraged thousands and sparked anti-racism demonstrations in this wealthy Scandinavian nation. A third defendant was convicted of being an accessory to the attack.

Russia

VLADIKAVKAZ — The U.N. refugee chief urged Russia to turn over police duties in breakaway Chechnya to Chechen officers and slash the number of federal checkpoints to encourage frightened refugees to return home.

South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — Charges against six South African men accused of raping a 9-month-old baby were dropped after DNA tests came back negative, the South African Broadcasting Corporation said. The radio reported that prosecutors decided to withdraw the case because there was insufficient evidence against the men. The case shocked the nation and led to protests nationwide. Some 21,000 cases of child rape were reported to police in South Africa last year. The attacks have been fueled by a myth that sex with a virgin will protect a man against AIDS or even cure him of the incurable disease that afflicts one in nine of the population.

South Korea

SEOUL — North Korea has built barracks and moved construction troops north of its border with South Korea in a sign it may resume work to restore rail and road links with South Korea, Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported.