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In Brief: Chinese in new Tibet crackdown

The Chinese government has closed Tibet to outside observers, poured security forces into the region and vowed to "crush" supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The move came ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile on March 10, triggering worries of a heavy-handed reaction to any dissent.

Kyrgyzstan votes to shut US airbase

The parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted overwhelmingly yesterday to close a key US airbase on its soil, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's strategy for Afghanistan and signalling a strategic victory for Russia in central Asia.

The US base at Manas, near the capital Bishkek, acts as a crucial transit point for US forces in Afghanistan, with 15,000 troops and 500 tonnes of cargo passing through each month. It has taken on added importance as continued instability in Pakistan hampers alternative transit routes.

Stranded children back with family

Four children stranded in Venezuela when their parents were arrested allegedly trying to leave the country with suitcases stuffed with cocaine were last night reunited with family members.

Relatives from England flew out to see the children who had been placed in foster care when Paul and Laura Makin were taken into custody, the Foreign Office in Britain said. Makin (31) and his wife were arrested on Monday at Porlamar airport on the holiday island of Margarita as they tried to board a flight to London.

Octuplets' gran at risk of losing home

The grandmother of California's newborn octuplets faces the threat of foreclosure on the house she has shared with her daughter and six of her grandchildren.

According to a mortgage default notice filed last week with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's Office, Angela Suleman is more than $23,000 behind in payments on her house in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier.

Teenage burglars leave sweet trail

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Five Florida teens face burglary-related charges after police followed a trail of sweet wrappers from the crime scene back to the house of one of teens.

Officers responded to a break-in in Palm Bay on Florida's central Atlantic coast. An officer followed a trail of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups packages in the yard. The officer noticed another wrapper on the porch of a house near the victim's house.

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