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World Briefs

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MEXICO

U.N.: Scorching heat will become routine

CANCUN | The brutal heat waves that killed thousands of Europeans in 2003 and that choked Russia earlier this year will seem like average summers in the future as the Earth continues to warm, the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday.

The last decade confirmed scientific predictions of 20 years ago that temperatures will rise and storms will become more fierce - and those trends are likely to continue, said Ghassam Asrar, who heads the climate research center at the World Meteorological Organization.

The WMO was due on Wednesday to release details on the last decade's global temperatures, but Mr. Asrar said it was the warmest on record.

Scientists say the warming trend is caused mainly by industrial pollution accumulating in the atmosphere and trapping heat. Negotiations conducted under U.N. auspices have been trying to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep temperatures from rising to levels likely to have disastrous consequences.

NORTH KOREA

N. Korea touts nuclear prowess

SEOUL | North Korea boasted Tuesday of running "thousands" of nuclear centrifuges, a week after launching a deadly artillery attack on South Korea, as China pressed for six-nation crisis talks.

State media in the North, which already has tested two atomic bombs made from plutonium, said "many thousands of centrifuges" are operating to enrich uranium at a new plant that it claims is for peaceful energy purposes.

The country first disclosed the new plant to U.S. experts less than two weeks before its artillery assault, which killed two civilians and two marines on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

Experts and senior U.S. officials fear the plant could easily be configured to make weapons-grade uranium.

EGYPT

Islamists win no seats in parliamentary election

CAIRO | Egyptian Islamist opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood failed to win a single seat in the first round of a disputed parliamentary election, state television said on Tuesday.

A partial list published by the official MENA news agency showed the ruling National Democratic Party winning at least 100 seats so far, with a handful going to the Wafd opposition party.

Rights groups said Sunday's election was marred by widespread violence and vote rigging.

NIGERIA

Anti-graft agency seeks Shell comment

LAGOS | Nigeria's anti-graft agency wants to question the local managing directors of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and oil service firm Halliburton over allegations they bribed authorities in Africa's most populous nation, an official said Tuesday.

The investigation by the nation's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission comes after U.S. authorities found those firms and others encouraged massive corruption within the troubled Nigerian Customs Service and elsewhere.

The U.S. cases uncovered that Shell and other oil firms paid millions of dollars in bribes to customs officials to circumvent import rules for offshore rigs, ships and other equipment coming into the nation's notoriously slow ports.

However, officials in oil-rich Nigeria, a major source of easily refined crude for the U.S.' gasoline demand, have been slow to launch their own investigations into the allegations.

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