Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.  (More)

Final US ‘surge’ troops withdraw from Afghanistan

The last of the 33,000 ‘surge’ troops ordered into Afghanistan by President Barack Obama more than three years ago have withdrawn from the country, returning the US presence to pre-surge levels.

Spain moves closer to bailout as government leaks planned pension cuts

Spain crept closer to a bailout as the government leaked plans to cut pension spending and senior bankers and business leaders called for the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, not to postpone his decision too long.

Israel makes no distinctions in US presidential race, says minister

An Israeli government minister has sought to defuse accusations thatBinyamin Netanyahu is attempting to influence the outcome of the US presidential election, saying Israel‘s official policy is “to stay as far away as possible” from its ally’s domestic politics.

US hits back at Kremlin over aid agency closure

The US has hit back at the Kremlin following the closure of its aid agency in Moscow for attempting to influence the country’s politics, by pointing out that the ruling United Russia party participated in US-funded activities.

Insults to Islam ignite violence in Pakistan, 15 killed

(Reuters) – Muslim protests against insults to the Prophet Mohammad turned violent in Pakistan, where at least 15 people were killed on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, but remained mostly peaceful in other Islamic countries.

Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes in 2011: campaign

(Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes in 2011 on income of more than $13 million, his campaign said on Friday in attempt to counter claims by Democrats that he has been secretive about his taxes.

China, Japan shadow boxing over rocks – for now

(Reuters) – The dispute between China and Japan over a desolate jumble of rocky islets in the East China Sea has taken a familiar turn with Beijing deploying a fleet of paramilitary patrol ships while similar Japanese vessels steam out in response.

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