* Israel downplays S-300 sale to Iran Israeli officials downplayed reports in the Russian media Wednesday that Moscow signed a deal two years ago to sell S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.
* Global crisis 'to strike by 2030' Growing world population will cause a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030.
* IDF to U.S.: Israel Closing In on Taking Military Aim at Iran IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi gave United States officials fresh intelligence information on an Iranian nuclear facility during his “working visit” this week.
* Assad: Olmert okayed Golan deal before Gaza op In what appears to be a concerted effort to improve Syria's image abroad, Syrian President Bashar Assad granted his third newspaper interview in 10 days.
* U.S. may widen strikes in Pakistan President Barack Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan.
* Palestinian unity talks break down Talks between rival Hamas and Fatah factions in Cairo ended on Thursday without a deal on a national unity government.
* 4,000-year-old 'Abraham's Gate' reopens The nearly 4,000 year-old "Abraham's Gate" at Tel Dan in northern Israel has been reopened to the public after a decade-long restoration project.
* Cairo: US, Europe should deal with any gov't Palestinians agree on Egypt has been urging Europe and the US to deal with whatever government is agreed on by the rival Palestinian factions negotiating in Cairo.
* EU leaders to discuss response to economic crisis EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the best ways to get out of the economic crisis.* China 'to step up naval patrols' China plans to step up naval patrols in disputed waters in the South China Sea to protect its interests.