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WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF: Ex-Soviet arms seller sentenced, attack in Syria lessens hope for peace

Thursday, April 5, 2012 | 8:55 p.m. CDT; updated 9:04 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 5, 2012

New York judge gives ex-Soviet arms dealer 25 years

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NEW YORK — Viktor Bout, a defiant Russian arms dealer dubbed the Merchant of Death, was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison, far short of the life term prosecutors sought for his conviction on terrorism charges that grew from a U.S. sting operation.

Prosecutors said Bout's weapons fueled armed conflicts in some of the world's most treacherous hot spots, including Rwanda, Angola and the Congo and that he was looking for new arms deals in places such as Libya and Tanzania when he was arrested. Bout has maintained that he was a legitimate businessman who wasn't selling arms when the American operatives knocked on his door.

"Although Bout has often described himself as nothing more than a businessman, he was a businessman of the most dangerous order," prosecutors said in their pre-sentencing memo. "Transnational criminals like Bout who are ready, willing and able to arm terrorists transform their customers from intolerant ideologues into lethal criminals who pose the gravest risk to civilized societies."

Britannica's halt of print edition triggers sales

CHICAGO Since Encyclopaedia Britannica announced last month that it was discontinuing its print editions, the Chicago-based company said sales have skyrocketed. It has sold all but 800 of the 4,000 sets of the 32-volume 2010 edition it had left at a Kentucky warehouse, the company said.

Britannica announced March 13 that it would stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia for the first time in 244 years and instead focus on its online encyclopedia.

Though the scarcity of the 2010 edition may be making it popular, the company has long known that the print sales were never going to come back to anything approaching the peak year of 1990 when 120,000 were sold.

UK's Sky News: We hacked in the public interest

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch's British satellite news channel Thursday became the latest branch of the mogul's global media empire to acknowledge bending the rules in an effort to stay ahead.

Sky News admitted its reporters hacked emails on two separate occasions, insisting that it was done in the public interest.

The police are investigating, and Murdoch's goal of taking full control of Sky News' profitable parent company, British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, may be at risk.

Sky News chief John Ryley said in a statement released Thursday that his reporters had twice been authorized to hack into computers for stories.

Syrian assault undermines hopes for cease-fire

BEIRUT — Syria launched a blistering assault Thursday on the outskirts of its capital, shelling residential areas and deploying snipers on rooftops as international envoy Kofi Annan demanded every fighter lay down arms in time for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire.

The bloodshed undermined already fading hopes that more than a year of violence would end soon, and France accused President Bashar Assad of trying to fool the world by accepting Annan's deadline to pull the army back from population centers by April 10.

According to the plan, rebels are supposed to stop fighting 48 hours later, paving the way for talks to end Assad's violent suppression of the uprising against his rule. The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have died.


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