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The leaders of nine Mediterranean and Southern European countries are preparing to meet in Spain, with the energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to top the agenda. The EU-Med9 meeting in the port city of Alicante on Friday brings together the leaders of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia and Croatia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel will also attend. Along with an EU-proposed price cap on natural gas, the group plans to discuss strengthening relations with countries across the Mediterranean Sea. Meetings of the EU-Med group are intended to develop a consensus among the participating nations on major European Union issues.

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Thousands of South Korean truckers are returning to work after voting to end their 16-day walkout that disrupted construction and other domestic industries. Thousands of truckers seeking financial protections in the face of rising fuel costs went on strike Nov. 24. The vote Friday to end the strike follows aggressive steps by the government to reduce the disruptions caused by the strike, such as widening back-to-work orders on truckers and mobilizing military vehicles to ease delays in industrial shipments. Members of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity union were striking to demand the government make permanent a minimum freight rate system that is set to expire at the end of 2022.

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Experts say an alleged plot to topple the German government, led by a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a Berlin judge, had its roots in a murky mixture of post-war grudges, antisemitic conspiracy theories and anger over recent pandemic restrictions. Police detained 25 people Wednesday described as being part of Germany’s Reichsbuerger, or Reich Citizens, movement. Experts say the movement's rise reflects the shifts that have taken place on the far-right end of the political spectrum in recent years. They say anger at restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic has proved fertile ground for anti-government sentiment in Germany, similar to the United States. Officials expect a second wave of detentions as authorities review evidence seized in their raids.

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Social media users are reporting a rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts of the population after this week’s decision to end mandatory testing for many people. That was part of dramatic changes aimed at gradually emerging from “zero-COVID” restrictions that sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign. Social media users in Beijing and other cities said coworkers or classmates were ill and some businesses closed due to lack of staff.

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Poland's nationalist conservative ruling party has ratcheted up its anti-German rhetoric ahead of elections next year.  The Law and Justice party also is seeking to cast its main domestic challenger as loyal to Berlin. Critics see the strategy as a campaign tactic that could harm ties with Germany amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Polish government is demanding that Germany pay Poland $1.3 trillion in compensation for World War II losses. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is accusing Germany of seeking to dominate Europe. Last weekend he accused Berlin of using peaceful means for aims that “it once wanted to implement using military methods.”

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Ukraine's finance minister says crucial Western financial aid is “not charity” but “self-preservation" as donor countries share the price of turning back Russian aggression. Serhiy Marchenko told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that his country is protecting freedom and democracy far beyond its borders. He said he believes EU officials will resolve their dispute with Hungary that is holding up 18 billion euros in loans and would cover a large part of Ukraine's looming budget gap. That outside financing is needed to avoid printing money at the central bank to cover basic needs like pensions, a practice that risks fueling already painful inflation.

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K-Pop star T.O.P. is among the eight people that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa says will join him on a flyby around the moon aboard a SpaceX spaceship next year. Maezawa made the announcement on Twitter and the dearMoon Project website on Friday, after he tweeted last week that he had met online with Elon Musk and planned a “major announcement about space.” The Japanese tycoon launched plans for the lunar voyage in 2018, buying all the seats on the spaceship. He began taking applications from around the world in March 2021 for what will be his second space journey after his 12-day trip to the International Space Station on the Soyuz Russian spaceship last year.

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For some children in low-income areas in England, a school lunch may be the only nutritious hot meal they get in a day. School lunches are given for free to all younger children in England and to some of the poorest families. But the Food Foundation charity estimates that there are 800,000 children in England living in poverty who are not eligible for the free meals. Whether Britain’s government should pay to feed more schoolchildren is a hot-button issue in the U.K. amid a deepening cost-of-living crisis. As inflation soars, increasing numbers of families cannot afford basics after paying skyrocketing energy and food bills.

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One of a kind and a unique property with a large (3,000 square feet) outdoor builidng in a great location in Normal. A beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 …

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Exhale as you enter this executive 5-bedroom retreat nestled on a private lake with 10.5 acres of breathing room just outside Downs in coveted…

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Stunning waterfront brick ranch, featuring a walkout basement and large covered back deck capture the serenity of this property. Sprawling kit…

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This O'Neal Builders New Construction Ranch Style Home features Exquisite finishes in Trails on Sunset Lake, Main Floor Master Bedroom with Tw…

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This all brick front and vinyl custom-built ranch home has 3462 square feet on main level with same in walkout basement for a total of 6,924 s…

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