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World briefs

FRANCE: France launches attack on al-Qaida

France has declared war on al-Qaida, and matched its fighting words with a first attack on a base camp of the terror network's North African branch, after the terror network killed a French aid worker it took hostage in April. The declaration and attack marked a shift in strategy for France, usually discreet about its behind-the-scenes battle against terrorism. "We are at war with al-Qaida," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday, a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the death of 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau.

NETHERLANDS: Teen gets OK to sail solo

The new cushions, sunshade and bright red sail are in place. And now 14-year-old Laura Dekker has the go-ahead she needs. A Dutch court ruled Tuesday the girl who was born on a yacht in the South Pacific is ready to embark on her dream of becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world - meaning she could set sail in two weeks in a ketch named Guppy. The dramatic rescue just last month of American teen Abby Sunderland in the Indian Ocean is a reminder of the perils she will face.

NICARAGUA: American couple detained

Two foreigners detained in Nicaragua have been identified as the American couple wanted in Panama in the death of a U.S. woman, authorities said Tuesday. The pair matched photographs provided by Panamanian authorities of William Adolfo Cortez of Texas and his wife Jane, who are being sought in the death of Lynn Hughes, Nicaraguan army spokesman Juan Ramon Morales said. The two foreigners were arrested at Nicaragua's border with Costa Rica on Monday.

IRAN: Paying families to grow

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a new policy on Tuesday to encourage population growth, dismissing Iran's decades of internationally acclaimed family planning as ungodly and a Western import. The new government initiative will pay families for every new child and deposit money into the newborn's bank account until they reach 18, effectively rolling back years of efforts to boost the economy by reducing the country's once runaway population growth. The plan is part of Ahmadinejad's stated commitment to further increase Iran's population, which is already estimated at 75 million. He has previously said the country could support up to 150 million.


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