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At least 84 people have died and entire towns have been wiped out in the worst wildfires in Australian history, authorities said. Arson is suspected as the cause of at least some of the blazes roaring through Victoria State. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd put the Army on standby and announced $6.7 million in aid to help rebuild destroyed homes and businesses.

NATO's senior commander said "activities and actions" against the booming drug trade in Afghanistan will begin "in the next several days." At a security conference in Munich, Germany, Gen. John Craddock offered no specifics but said "we've got to get started" against traffickers and laboratories that support a resurgent Taliban to the tune of an estimated $100 million a year. The offensive was authorized late last year, although not without questions about the will of NATO forces to carry it out.

Tension was thick in Madagas-car's capital Sunday after police fired into a crowd protesting the dismissal of Mayor and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina. At least 25 demonstrators were killed; as many as 167 others were wounded Saturday. Rajoelina, who has proclaimed himself the nation's new chief executive, vowed to keep his supporters on the streets until "the final victory" over President Marc Ravalomanana. Ravalomanana blamed his opponents for the violence, calling it "intolerable" and extending a nighttime curfew for another week.


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