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CHINA: Typhoon batters east coast

Typhoon Muifa blew down power lines and billboards in the financial hub of Shanghai on Sunday and aimed at a northeast port city. High waters and heavy surf already were battering Qingdao's coastline as Muifa hugged China's eastern seaboard, weakening as it approached the industrial port city. Landfall as a severe tropical storm was expected Monday morning near Qingdao, home to 7 million people and the Chinese navy's north sea fleet. Evacuations were ordered for 600,000 people, including in Shandong province surrounding Qingdao and points to the south. Strong winds caused damage in Shanghai, and a 24-year-old swimmer went missing in heavy surf, Shanghai Television reported.


IRAQ: Al-Sadr threatens U.S. troops

An anti-American Shia cleric with thousands of loyal followers threatened Sunday that U.S. forces who stay past the Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline are fair game to be attacked. Iraqi officials have tried to portray any American force that does not withdraw as trainers of the still-growing Iraqi military rather than as combat troops. Muqtada al-Sadr's comments suggested that even a limited training mandate would not be acceptable to his militia. "They will be treated as anyone who stays in Iraq, as a tyrannical occupier that must be resisted by military means," al-Sadr said in a statement on his website.


LIBYA: Rebels aim toward Tripoli

Rebels launched a new offensive out of their stronghold in the western mountains, battling regime forces on a new front in a bid to break a months-long deadlock and push toward Tripoli, the heartland of Moammar Gadhafi's rule on the Mediterranean coast. Booms of shelling and rocket fire echoed from the front lines on Saturday, centered around the town of Bir Ghanam, where the rebel force backed by tanks fought Gadhafi's troops much of the day. Later, witnesses saw flattened buildings presumably targeted in NATO airstrikes and three smoldering government tanks in the town.

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