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India woke up Thursday with about half of its bandwidth disrupted and widespread Internet outages still hampering a wide swath of the Middle East. Because of bad weather, officials said it would take a week or more to fix two undersea Internet cables off Egypt's coast. Despite speculation that a ship's anchor may have cut the cables, an Egyptian telecommunications official said that workers won't know for sure the cause until they are able to get repair ships and divers to the area.

A Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday inside a mosque in southern Afghan-istan, killing a deputy provincial governor and five other worshipers in the latest assassination of a senior official in President Hamid Karzai's government, officials said. Militants launched more than 140 suicide missions in 2007, the highest number since the ouster of the Taliban in the US-led invasion of 2001.

The Japanese government questioned China's attitude to food safety Thursday after dozens more people in Japan said they fell ill after eating Chinese-made food. A day before, Japanese food companies recalled pesticide-contaminated dumplings that set off a series of complaints. Chinese officials said that production and exports from the dumpling manufacturer were halted and that an export watchdog agency was conducting a "speedy investigation."

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A national environmental assessment in New Zealand released Thursday said the country cannot afford to be complacent if the sparsely populated islands are to live up to their "clean green" image. Of late, it has become more "khaki, the report states, indicating that environmental fallout from agriculture is a leading concern, as is a significant rise in household consumption.

About 200 Afghans demonstrated in the capital, Kabul, on Thursday against the death sentence given to Perwiz Kambakhsh, a reporter convicted last week of blasphemy for mocking Islam and the Koran. Above, a policeman patrols as protesters display Kambakhsh's picture.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il assured a visiting Chinese delegation Thursday that his regime was still committed to holding up its end of the stalled six-nation nuclear deal, China's official Xinhua News Agency said. Sung Kim, a US State Department spokesman headed for North Korea, said that he will press Pyongyang for a complete declaration of its nuclear program.

A day after Iran's chief judge ordered that executions in the country would no longer take place in public, Iran hanged five men convicted of murder in Evin prison just north of the capital, Tehran.

American actor George Clooney officially took on a new role as UN Messenger of Peace during a ceremony Thursday at the body's New York headquarters. The job grew out of his campaigning to end the conflict in Darfur and for more humanitarian aid for millions caught in the violence.

Britain's government has decided to award academic credit to students who complete job-training programs with three commercial companies: McDonald's, railroad operator Network Rail, and low-cost airline Flybe. The initiative is designed to improve young people's skills and offer an alternative means of earning credits toward graduation, including for workers who may have dropped out of school. McDonald's will offer a "basic shift manager" course. Network Rail and Flybe plan to include engineer training.

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