World

Hints that OPEC may announce a "severe" cut in production sent oil prices rebounding Monday on world markets. Crude futures were trading near $44 a barrel after sinking to a four-year low of $40.50 on Friday. The cartel is scheduled to meet again Dec. 17, and in an interview last weekend its president did not dispute predictions that a 2-million-barrel-a-day decrease may be forthcoming to help push prices up again.

Authorities in Greece worried that rioting over the shooting death of a student could worsen if it becomes linked to a nationwide strike against the government's pension-reform plans. The strike is planned for Wednesday. Meanwhile, rioting extended into a third straight day in Thessaloniki Volos, Komotini, Chania, and the islands of Corfu and Crete.

In a quick rebuke to President-elect Obama, Iran's foreign ministry spurned his idea of offering new incentives in exchange for a halt in nuclear development. Obama discussed the proposal on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. But a ministry spokesman said the "carrot-and-stick policy has no benefit ... [and is] unacceptable." The exchange came as International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei told the Los Angeles Times that efforts to stop Iran's nuclear activity "haven't really moved one inch."

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A lawsuit filed by families whose children died or were sickened by drinking tainted formula was disallowed by a court in China's Hebei Province. The suit, believed to be the first of its type, sought $2 million in compensation from Sanlu Group, a state-owned dairy at the center of the scandal. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they were told the case couldn't be heard because government investigators have not completed their work. At least six babies died after ingesting melamine-laced milk and 294,000 others were made ill.

Violence worsened across Mexico, with 17 more people shot to death Sunday and the remains of eight others discovered in a shallow grave. Most of the casualties came in southern Guerrero State, in a confrontation between police and soldiers and suspected drug gang members. In Ciudad Juárez, on the border with Texas, gunmen killed six people inside a pool hall. The mass grave was found in the central state of Michoacán. Increasingly, critics of President Felipe Calderón are questioning whether his declared war against drug cartels is winnable, reports said.

Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's public approval rating has been cut in half over the past month, three opinion surveys reported Monday. At 20.9 percent, his popularity has sunk below that of his last two predecessors, both of whom resigned under pressure. Only the fact that there is no obvious successor in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party may keep Aso in his job until after parliament votes on his 2009-10 budget in April, analysts said.

Police arrested at least 57 environmental activists who forced cancellation of flights at London's Stansted Airport Monday by breaching security and setting up a protest next to a runway. A group calling itself Plane Stupid opposes the government's decision to expand the airport, calling aviation the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. Would-be passengers said they'd been told the disruption likely will cause limited availability of flights for up to three days.

A cruise ship that ran aground in waters off Antarctica and was leaking fuel has been freed, Chile's Navy reported Monday. The Ushuaia was headed for its home port in Argentina with its 33-man crew aboard. Eighty-nine passengers were evacuated late last week. The mishap was the third involving a cruise ship in Antarctic waters in two years.

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