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In Asia, Obama reaffirms alliance with Japan

TOKYO — Declaring that “the United States is and always will be a Pacific nation,” President Barack Obama launched an Asia tour designed to assure leaders of ally nations that they have a strong U.S. backup at a time of rising regional tension.

Potential for heart attack, stroke risk seen with marijuana use

Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2 percent of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died.

Material on Australian shore not from Malaysia jet

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian officials said Thursday that after examining detailed photographs of unidentified material that washed ashore in the southwestern part of the country they are satisfied it is not a clue in the search for the missing Malaysian plane.

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New procedure clones stem cells from adults

Scientists have grown stem cells from adults using cloning techniques for the first time — bringing them closer to developing patient-specific lines of cells that can be used to treat a whole host of ailments, from heart disease to blindness.

Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

NEW YORK — The government’s latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish. The report counts cases in only 10 states for some of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends.

Avatar lures pedophiles in uphill battle against child porn online

LONDON — Sweetie looks much like other unfortunate young Filipinas. Just 10 years old, her user profile shows, she spends her days online fielding requests from men who offer her money to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam. When she logs on, invitations pour in — “Are you a working girl?” or “I’m into girls your age” — from strangers keen to get her into a private show via Skype or Yahoo! Messenger.

Deal reached on calming Ukraine unrest — for now

GENEVA — In a surprise accord, Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday on tentative steps to halt violence and calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold War-style military posturing triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

Prosecutor chides defense witness at Pistorius murder trial

PRETORIA, South Africa — An expert witness for the defense at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius was supposed to help the athlete’s assertion that he killed his girlfriend by mistake last year, but he ended his testimony on Thursday amid blistering attacks on his credibility by a prosecutor who accused him of slipshod analysis and fuzzy explanations.

Search continues for missing Malaysian jet

PERTH, Australia — A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia’s west coast, as data from the sub’s previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.