By Caren Bohan and Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Democrat said on Sunday he hoped an emerging deal on the U.S. budget would include an extension of unemployment benefits but added that his party would not necessarily walk away from an agreement that left it out. "I don't think we've reached that point where we've said, ‘This is it, take it or leave it,'" Senator Richard Durbin told the ABC program "This Week," when pressed on whether his party would insist on including jobless aid in a final deal. Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said that based on what he has heard from Senator Patty Murray, the lead Democratic negotiator on the budget, the fiscal talks are making progress and moving in the right direction. The House of Representatives and Senate budget panel, created after the government shutdown in October, is discussing a two-year accord that would ease the impact of across-the-board spending cuts known as the "sequester" and lower the near-term risk of another damaging fiscal showdown.
Irish province Connacht produced perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the European Cup on Sunday in beating four-time champions Toulouse 16-14 in France to round off a weekend which saw all four Irish sides win. Connacht, who had lost 10 successive matches since recording their only win of the season over Italian side Zebre in the European Cup opening pool game, had former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks to thank largely for their success as he scored 11 points. Sterling defence also played a role after a try by their scrum-half Kieran Marmion in the 47th minute, set up by a brilliant offload by Robbie Henshaw, restored the lead they had held for most of the first-half. Toulouse, who got back into the game with a try by France captain Thierry Dusautoir 15 minutes from time, did manage to come away with a bonus point to put them level on points with table-topping Saracens.
By Emmanuel Braun and Paul-Marin Ngoupana BANGUI (Reuters) - Relative calm returned to the Central African Republic on Sunday after three days of heavy fighting between Christians and Muslims, with France saying many thousands rather than hundreds would have died had its troops not intervened. Nevertheless, residents of the capital Bangui reported sporadic gunfire from some neighbourhoods and a human rights campaigner said members of Seleka - a mainly Muslim rebel group that seized power in March and has been fighting Christian militias - were still operating in the city. The morgue at Bangui's Hopital Communautaire was full, a Reuters correspondent saw, with bodies piled up there and in the hospital corridors. France is deploying 1,600 troops to its former colony after the U.N. Security Council authorised it on Thursday to use force to help African peacekeepers struggling to restore order.