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Militant Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines "are withdrawing from the conflict areas" and expect fighting with government troops to be over by Wednesday, a spokesman said.The Moro Islamic Liberation Front lacks the resources to deliver a knockout punch in its bid to take over predominantly Roman Catholic villages, analysts said, but it appeared still to be in control of eight of them. Amid the fighting, the UN's World Food Program was airlifting 400 tons of rice to noncombatants who've fled the violence.Skip to next paragraph
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By a 100-to-5 margin, members of Lebanon's parliament voted their confidence in Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's new unity government. But Tuesday's action also endorsed the right of Hezbollah to use all means at its disposal to recover land claimed by Lebanon but controlled by Israel. Hezbollah, which has 11 cabinet positions in the unity government, will have veto power over Siniora's initiatives.
All powers of the presidency in Mauritania were transferred Tuesday to the Army general who led last week's overthrow of the government. The junta claimed that its coup was triggered by the "deteriorating condition of daily life" as well as by ousted President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi's attempt to fire four military commanders. Abdallahi remains in the junta's custody, although Prime Minister Yahya Ould Amed Waqef was freed Monday. The latter urged supporters to press for restoration of civilian rule.
Humpback whales, hunted to near-extinction in the 1960s, "have responded well under protection" and now belong in the category of "least concern," the world's leading marine mammal network said Tuesday. The International Union for Conservation of Nature also shifted common minke whales and southern right whales to that category. But it cautioned that their recoveries should be measured over additional decades to ensure that they are not "a short-term variation." Analysts said whaling nations may use the union's report to argue for lifting the 1968 moratorium on commercial harvesting.