At least 46 dead, dozens wounded in Iraq attacks


At least 46 people died and dozens more were wounded in a series of attacks in several Iraqi cities, local police told Efe.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral in the town of Al Meqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 32, the sources said.

Also, at least 11 soldiers died in attacks launched by armed men who assaulted several pipeline protection posts located between the cities of Beyi and Hadiza, in Salahedin and Al Anbar provinces, respectively.

The sources also said that a police officer was killed and five of his colleagues wounded, along with two civilians, when a car bomb was triggered in the southern part of Baghdad.

Earlier in the day, security sources reported that 14 members of the security forces died and another 31 were wounded in two attacks in Al Anbar, west of Baghdad.




Microsoft helped NSA intercept messages, The Guardian reports


Microsoft cooperated closely with U.S. intelligence agencies to facilitate the interception of private messages from its users, according to National Security Agency documents revealed by the British daily The Guardian.

New information leaked by former CIA analyst Edward Snowden reveals how the Silicon Valley giant helped the NSA bypass the encryption system that protects conversations between users on the chat website.

According to the documents, the agency was already able to access e-mail messages sent via Outlook - which includes the Hotmail service - before the program encrypts them for secure sending.

Microsoft also worked this year with the FBI and the NSA to facilitate indiscriminate and mass access to information archived in the cloud-based SkyDrive service, which has some 250 million users.




Union-led protests block roadways, paralyze traffic in Brazil


Brazil experienced more highway blockades and the paralysis of public transportation in some cities during the so-called "National Day of Struggle" called by unions to demand labor reforms.

Demonstrators interrupted certain operations at industrial facilities and refineries and blocked access to some ports, including Santos, Latin America's most important maritime terminal.

In Belo Horizonte, protesters temporarily paralyzed the metro and the city bus lines, which more than 200,000 people use each day.

In Sao Paulo, more than 1,000 intracity messengers on motorcycles headed up Paulista Ave., in the heart of the city's business district, to demand better working conditions.

In addition, the Landless Peasant Movement, or MST, occupied part of the headquarters of the national institute of settlement and agrarian reform, or Incra, in Brasilia to demand that the government resume agrarian reform, which they claim is paralyzed.




Regulator: Radioactive water from Fukushima likely leaking into ocean


Japan's nuclear regulator says it "strongly suspects" that highly radioactive groundwater at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant is leaking into the adjoining Pacific Ocean.

"We must find the cause of the contamination ... and put the highest priority on implementing countermeasures," Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, told the Kyodo news agency Wednesday.

Tanaka made the remarks after levels of radioactive cesium and strontium detected in groundwater samples rose sharply in recent days.




6 Greenpeace activists scale the Shard, the EU's tallest building


Six activists from the ecological organization Greenpeace climbed to the top of the 72-story Shard skyscraper in this capital, the tallest building in the European Union, but Metropolitan Police arrested them after their 15-hour ascent.

According to a police spokesperson, security forces were alerted about the ecologists' activities at 4:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT) on Thursday morning and closely followed the situation throughout the day along with the London Transport Police.

Evidently, six women - named Sabine, Sandra, Victo, Ali, Wiola and Liesbeth, Greenpeace said on its Twitter account - had prepared and trained for months to scale the building.

British media reported that the stunt came in response to the plans of the Shell oil company to drill for petroleum and natural gas in the Arctic.




U.S. initial jobless claims climb to 360,000


The weekly figure for initial unemployment claims in the United States rose by 16,000 last week to a total of 360,000, the highest level in two months, the Department of Labor said.

Last week's figures could result from seasonal changes in employment patterns at the beginning of summer in major industries such as auto manufacturing, and in educational institutions.

The school year ends at the beginning of summer and auto manufacturers close down part of their operations to recondition their factories, causing temporary layoffs in both areas.




Death toll in China rainstorms rises to 28


At least 28 people have died and dozens more are missing due to severe rainstorms affecting central and southwestern China since last weekend, according to the latest figures from the Civil Affairs Ministry cited by the official Xinhua news agency.

The serious flooding and mudslides triggered by torrential rains, occasionally accompanied by hail, have affected 1.67 million people, the ministry said.

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, one of the hardest-hit regions, 18 people died and 62 others are missing due to mudslides, which caused three bridges to collapse.