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NETHERLANDS: 4 die, 7 missing in sea crash

Four crew members died and seven were missing in the icy waters of the North Sea after a cargo ship collided with another vessel and sank off the southern Dutch coast Wednesday night, rescuers said. Coast Guard spokesman Marcel Oldenburger said 13 people were rescued. Another Coast Guard spokesman, Peter Verburg, said in the early hours Thursday that the search was carrying on, even though "the chance of finding anyone alive now is virtually zero." The 485-foot Baltic Ace collided with the 440-foot container ship Corvus J in darkness near busy shipping lanes 40 miles off the coast. The Baltic Ace, carrying a cargo of cars, had a crew of 24 which was forced to abandon ship.


ISRAEL: Palestinians fight housing

Palestinians and Israelis hardened their positions Wednesday over a contentious new settlement push around Jerusalem, with Israel going full throttle on plans to develop the area and the Palestinians trying to block it through an appeal to the UN Security Council. The settlement push, Israel's retaliation for the Palestinians' success in winning UN recognition of a de facto state, has touched off an escalating international showdown. Palestinians say the construction would deal a death blow to Mideast peace hopes. Even Israel's staunchest allies have been outraged by the move, feeding speculation they might squeeze Israel more than usual to back down on its construction plans.


FRANCE: Lights of Paris to be dimmer

The "City of Lights" may soon lose some of its luster. Energy and Environment Minister Delphine Batho has unveiled a proposal for lights at shops, offices, and public buildings, including the Louis Vuitton store and the Lido cabaret on Paris's Avenue des Champs Elysées, to be turned off between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. starting in July. The plan, to be applied across France, is aimed at saving energy and money, Batho said. Unhappy merchants say business will be hurt at a time when the economy is barely growing and unemployment is at a 14-year high.

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