The World

10 ESSENTIAL STORIES

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1 | Israel

The U.S. Buys Time for Talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a one-time-only 90-day freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, after an almost eight-hour negotiating session with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A moratorium on settlements is essential before direct Israeli-Palestinian talks about the borders of a future Palestinian state. In return for Israeli compliance, the U.S. offered $3 billion worth of military equipment and assurances that it would block any Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition unilaterally at the U.N. Some analysts say Israel's conservative government is uninterested in talks and will simply let the 90-day freeze run out.

2 | China

Tower Blaze Shocks Shanghai

A fire that wreathed a 28-story high-rise in China's biggest metropolis killed at least 79 people and injured dozens more. In the past two decades, Shanghai has been transformed by an unprecedented building boom. The majority of its more than 20 million residents live in some 15,000 tower blocks, and there are concerns about shoddy construction and poor safety standards.

3 | New York

Accused Arms Dealer Extradited

After his extradition from Thailand to the U.S., suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout--nicknamed the Merchant of Death--appeared in a Manhattan court. The U.S. says Bout is an arms trafficker who fueled conflicts from Afghanistan to Liberia; he pleaded not guilty. He was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 after allegedly trying to sell weapons to undercover U.S. agents. Russia has expressed outrage over Bout's extradition; some experts say Moscow is worried he could disclose sensitive and embarrassing Russian military intelligence.

4 | Italy

Berlusconi Under Fire

After surviving several scandals during his political career, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seemed finally on the verge of being brought down after allegations of orgies in his residence, possibly involving underage girls. Four members of his Cabinet resigned as his former ally Gianfranco Fini kept up pressure on the Prime Minister to step down. Berlusconi faces a no-confidence vote in December.

5 | Iraq

A Prickly Partnership

Two days after walking out on a parliamentary session, Iraq's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc agreed on Nov. 13 to participate in a coalition government led by Shi'ite incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But Iraqiya head Iyad Allawi spoke out against the deal and indicated he might not accept the senior position offered to him. Political deadlock has plagued Iraq since its national elections in March.

6 | Britain

A Gitmo Settlement

Security agencies denied that a multimillion-dollar payout to a group of former Guantánamo Bay detainees (all British citizens or legal residents) is an admission of collusion in their torture. Officials said the settlement--the first time any Gitmo detainee has received financial compensation connected to his incarceration--merely avoids years of costly litigation.

7 | Sudan

Preparing for Birth

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