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China accuses US of prejudice over human rights issues
AP, Beijing
China has responded to new U.S. allegations of widespread human rights abuses with its own accusations of prejudice and interference, saying the situation of rights in the country has "never been better."
In presenting the annual U.S. State Department report on human rights around the world, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that China "is in a league of its own when it comes to human rights abuses," citing mass detentions of Muslims and repression of other religious minorities.

Iran gas pipeline explosion kills 5
AP, Tehran
A gas pipeline explosion in southwestern Iran on Thursday killed at least five people and injured six, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
The blast stuck a pipeline between the city of Ahvaz city and the city of Mahshahr, near the Persian Gulf. There was no immediate information as to what had caused it.

Nicaruaguan govt, oppn agree to resume talks
AFP, Managua
Nicaragua's government and opposition agreed Wednesday to resume negotiations on ending the country's long-running political crisis after authorities pledged to release some protesters detained during anti-government rallies.
The talks will resume Thursday, the government and the opposition Civic Alliance coalition said. Protests broke out almost 11 months ago, initially against a pension reform before morphing into general opposition to President Daniel Ortega's iron rule.
US judge gives Manafort 73 months in prison
Reuters, Washington
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to 73 months in prison for two conspiracy charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said 30 of the months would run concurrently with Manafort's sentence last week in a separate case.


Manafort apologized for his actions and asked for leniency during a sentencing hearing. Last week, a federal judge in Virginia sentenced the Republican political consultant to 47 months in prison - an unexpectedly lenient term - for tax and bank fraud in a separate Mueller case.


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