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WASHINGTON (AP) — A month after emerging from a government shutdown at the top of their game, many Democrats in Congress newly worried about the party's re-election prospects are for the first time distancing themselves from President Barack Obama after the disastrous rollout of his health care overhaul.
China is to start removing treasures from its greatest ever marine archaeological discovery, six years after the wreck was raised from the seabed in a giant metal box, reports said Friday. The wooden Nanhai 1 sank near Yangjiang in the southern province of Guangdong during the Southern Song Dynasty of 1127-1279, with an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 items on board. For centuries it was preserved under the sea by a thick covering of silt, and it was discovered accidentally by a British-Chinese expedition looking for a completely different vessel, the Rhynsburg from the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The vessel's "full excavation" was officially launched Thursday and authorities expect to retrieve all its relics in the next three to four years, it said, citing Tong Mingkang, a deputy head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
The holiday shopping season kicked off much earlier this year, as at least a dozen national retail chains from Macy's to Gap to Target opened their stores on Thanksgiving Day. The holiday openings came despite planned protests from workers' rights groups that are opposed to employees working on the holiday instead of spending the day with family.
Egyptian police arrested a leading activist on Thursday for calling for protests in breach of a new law that heavily restricts demonstrations. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a symbol of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, was arrested at his home, security officials said. The protest law passed on Sunday has heightened fears about the future of political freedoms in Egypt after the military deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July. It gives the Interior Ministry the right to ban any meeting of more than 10 people in a public place.
Market research company GfK's monthly consumer confidence index fell to -12 from -11 in October, wrong-footing analysts who had expected a small rise. The survey showed Britons were more pessimistic about their own finances and less willing to splash out on big-ticket items despite a brighter economic outlook.
South Africa's top official anti-graft watchdog is recommending President Jacob Zuma repay some of a $21 million publicly funded "security upgrade" to his private home, which included a swimming pool and marquee area, a newspaper reported on Friday. The Mail and Guardian weekly said the Public Protector's provisional report, entitled 'Opulence on a Grand Scale', found Zuma had derived "substantial" personal gain from the home improvements paid for by the state. Zuma's spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report. No one was immediately available to comment from the office of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
A European Union bid to draw mighty ex-Soviet state Ukraine into the Western fold headed for failure at a summit ending Friday held amid a worsening EU-Russia tug-of-war. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Ukraine's refusal to get closer to the West by signing a landmark deal Friday shows that its President Viktor Yanukovych is taking the country "nowhere." "The Ukrainian president is not ready to go further into integration with the European Union," she told reporters on the second and final day of a difficult summit between EU leaders and six ex-Soviet states that has highlighted East-West tensions. "I think that today's Ukrainian leadership (is) choosing the way which is going nowhere," the Lithuanian president said.
By Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's plan to ban khat, a leafy plant chewed as a stimulant in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula, should be dropped because it could alienate immigrants and damage counter-terrorism operations, lawmakers said on Friday. Parliament's Home Affairs Committee, a panel with influence but no legal power, said the ban was not based on any evidence of medical or social harm. Banning the use of khat, or qat, would create tension between the police and immigrants, particularly Somalis who have settled across Britain, the committee said in a report. It would also be seen as a betrayal by Kenya, where growing khat is a big source of income in some areas, the panel added.