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Thursday, July 31, 2014 - Updated: 10:19 AM

Argentina enters default for second time

NEW YORK (AP) -- The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sent Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raised questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy.

A midnight Wednesday deadline to reach a deal with holdout bondholders came and went with Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof holding firm to his government's position that it could not accept a deal with U.S. hedge fund creditors it dismisses as "vultures." Kicillof said the funds refused a compromise offer in talks that ended several hours earlier, although he gave no details of that proposal.

"We're not going to sign an agreement that jeopardizes the future of all Argentines," Kicillof said after he emerged from the meeting with creditors and a mediator in New York City. "Argentines can remain calm because tomorrow will just be another day and the world will keep on spinning."

But court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack said a default could hurt bondholders who were not part of the dispute as well as the Argentine economy, which is suffering through a recession, a shortage of dollars and one of the world's highest inflation rates.

Myanmar reports massive heroin seizure

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- A Myanmar drug squad seized more than 140 kilograms (300 pounds) of heroin in a town near the Thai border in the country's largest confiscation this year, state media reported today.

The state-owned Kyemone newspaper reported that the anti-drug squad seized 404 heroin blocks worth $2.3 million from a car and arrested two suspects in the Shan state border town of Tachileik.

In addition to the 141.4 kilograms (311 pounds) of heroin, officers also found assault rifles, ammunition, hand grenades and 31,000 Thai baht ($970) in the vehicle, which was traveling from a Shan village to the Thai border.

The newspaper said both the driver and passenger will face drug charges.

Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium, the main ingredient of heroin, after Afghanistan, accounting for about 25 percent of global poppy production.

According to an opium poppy survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar increased from 43,600 hectares (107,700 acres) in 2010-2011 to 57,800 hectares (142,800 acres) in 2012-2013.

In 1999, Myanmar declared that it would be opium poppy-free by the year 2014, but the deadline has been extended by five years as the impoverished nation struggles to stem its narcotics problem.

Expat Turks begin voting for president

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turks living abroad began voting today to choose Turkey's first directly elected president. It is also the first time expatriate Turks are voting in their countries of residence for Turkish elections.

Close to 2.8 million expatriate Turks in 54 countries -- about half of them in Germany -- are eligible to vote. Only about 250,000 of them however, have registered to vote, according to Turkey's High Election Board. Polls opened in Germany and several other countries today.

In Berlin, hundreds of Turks went to a polling station inside the city's Olympic stadium to vote. A large Turkish flag was put up over the door.

"I think it is a great thing for us Turks that we can also vote," said Duygu Yapar, a 23-year-old woman from Berlin.

Many of those holding Turkish passports in Germany are the children or grandchildren of immigrants and have never lived in Turkey. Seven polling stations were set up across the country.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the strongest contender in the elections to be held in Turkey on Aug. 10. The former head of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas are also running.

Russia ordered to pay $2.5B for Yukos

PARIS (AP) -- The European Court of Human Rights today ordered Russia to pay out another 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) to a group of shareholders of Yukos, the oil company the government dismantled over a decade ago.

The decision follows a ruling Monday by an international court ordering Russian President Vladimir Putin's government to pay a colossal $50 billion to the former majority shareholder in Yukos. Today's ruling covers shareholders who were not party to that claim.

Yukos had been owned by tycoon Mikhail Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an opponent of Putin who had begun using his wealth to fund opposition parties. Khodorkovsky was arrested and pardoned only last December, after more than a decade in prison.

     

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