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In a "routine military exercise," North Korea test-fired two missiles into the Yellow Sea, intelligence sources in rival South Korea said Wednesday. Both had ranges of 75 miles or less, they said, but the test was seen as a signal of a new hard line in the North's confrontation with the US and other negotiating partners over its nuclear weapons program. Special US envoy Christopher Hill concluded a visit to North Korea last week to try to salvage the disarmament accord agreed to by the six parties.

An uneasy calm prevailed in Thailand's capital Wednesday after two people died and hundreds more were hurt in the worst antigovernment violence in 16 years. Police and soldiers patrolled the streets, and embattled Prime Minister Wongsawat sought to assure diplomats from neighboring nations that his government "can take care of the situation." But opposition protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy vowed to intensify their four-month campaign as soon as Thursday.

For the first time, Syria's government confirmed Wednesday that it has deployed hundreds of troops along the border with Lebanon. But, speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said their mission was to deter smuggling and the movement of "saboteurs." The buildup was spotted weeks ago by journalists, and in Washington the Bush administration said any attempt by the troops to cross into Lebanon would be "unacceptable."

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Profs. Martin Chalfie of Columbia University and Roger Tsien of the University of California-San Diego will share the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Japanese researcher Osamu Shimomura, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Wednesday. The three were cited for their work on a glowing jellyfish protein that can act as a tracer in medical applications. Shimomura is on the staffs of both Boston University Medical School and the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institute.

As expected, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Mal-aysia announced a timetable for giving up his office, telling a news conference Wednesday that he'll step down next March. He vowed to devote the remaining six months of his term to cleaning up corruption. If he departs on schedule, his rule will be the shortest in the nation's history. Abdallah won a landslide victory in 2004 but led his party to its worst finish in an election last March.

Feuding political parties in Ukraine were given more time Wednesday by President Viktor Yushchenko to cobble together a new coalition government and avoid a third national election in three years. Such a vote likely would be held in December, and pessimistic party leaders suggested after meeting with Yushchenko that they viewed it as inevitable. Yushchenko's Orange coalition with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko collapsed last month, and reports say he has ignored her calls for a reconciliation.

A long-awaited ruling is expected Thursday in Fiji on the legality of the 2006 coup that toppled elected Prime Minister Lainsenia Qarase. But even if the High Court declares that military chief Frank Bainimarama, who led the overthrow, had no right to form an interim government with himself at the helm, he has told Fijians he won't give up power until after his proposed reforms of the political and electoral system are in place, reports said.

Hurricane Norbert was bearing down on the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula Thursday with sustained winds of 115 m.p.h. that meteorologists said likely would intensify further into a "major storm." Landfall was predicted by Saturday. On the east coast, all warnings about tropical storm Marco were canceled after it moved ashore Tuesday, its winds weakening to 35 m.p.h.

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