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AROUND THE WORLD

Al-Qaida affiliate lays claim to bank bombing

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A group affiliated with the al-Qaida terrorist network claimed responsibility Wednesday for bombing a state-run investment bank, gloating over its ease in penetrating security in an attack that killed at least 18 people.

Sunday's attack on the Trade Bank of Iraq was meant to expose the weakness of the country's stalled government, according to a statement posted on the Web site of the Islamic State of Iraq. The statement called the bank a "stronghold of evil" because it was established to attract foreign investment.

"The soldiers of the Islamic State, in spite of all protections, managed to penetrate all security barriers," the group's statement said.

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44 dead, many missing in devastating floods

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Torrential waters flattened a small town as floods raged through two states in northeastern Brazil and the death toll was expected to surpass 44 as rescuers searched Wednesday for hundreds of people reported missing.

Mayor Ana Lopes said the entire town of Branquinha, population 12,000, will have to be rebuilt in a different location. Television footage showed a train station washed away and its tracks ripped from the ground. Cars lay overturned and strewn along a riverbank. Dazed people wandered about streets littered with couches, chairs and mountains of mud.

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Diplomacy fails to limit whaling by 3 nations

AGADIR, Morocco (AP) -- An international effort to limit whale hunting collapsed Wednesday, leaving Japan, Norway and Iceland free to keep killing hundreds of the mammals per year.

The breakdown put diplomatic efforts on ice for at least a year, raising the possibility that South Korea might join the whaling nations. It also raised questions about the global drive to prevent the extinction of the most endangered whale species.

Japanese officials and environmentalists traded accusations of blame after two days of intense, closed-door talks failed to break a deadlock in which the three whaling nations offered to limit their catch but refused to phase it out completely. About 1,500 whales are killed each year by the three nations.

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Records cite favoritism to Hitler as '24 inmate

BERLIN (AP) -- Adolf Hitler enjoyed special treatment while jailed in 1924, being allowed hundreds of visitors -- sometimes unsupervised -- including about 30 to 40 of them to celebrate his 35th birthday, according to a treasure-trove of documents that have surfaced from the prison near Munich where he was held.

The 500 documents from Landsberg Prison were found by a Nuremberg man among the possessions of his late father, who had purchased them at a flea market in the 1970s, according to Werner Behringer, whose auction house in the Bavarian city of Fuerth will offer them for sale next month.

Hitler was imprisoned after the Nazis' abortive bid to seize power in 1923 in the notorious "beer hall putsch" coup attempt in Munich.

Prison director Otto Leybold gushed about Hitler in a memo about the inmates Sept. 18, 1924, saying he was always "sensible, modest, humble and polite to everyone -- especially to the officers of the facility."

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