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J.K. Rowling ends hiatus with a book for adults

J.K. Rowling, the British author whose Harry Potter fantasy series ignited a passion for reading in millions of children around the world, is emerging from a five-year publishing hiatus with a new novel — this time for adults.

Little, Brown & Co., part of the Hachette Book Group, said on Thursday that it had acquired the rights to publish the book, whose title and publication date were not named.

For Rowling, the transition from writing for children to writing for adults could be tricky. While authors have established themselves as adult authors and then written well-received children’s books, very few have successfully done the opposite (Judy Blume is one exception, with adult books like her best-selling novel “Summer Sisters”).

—Julie Bosman, The New York Times

In nod to gas prices, Obama talks about energy

MIAMI — President Barack Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil Thursday, even as he conceded there was little he could do in the short run to ease the pain at the pump.

Speaking to students at the University of Miami, in a swing state where gas averages $3.69 a gallon, Obama said: “Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country; this time, it’s happening even earlier. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody.”

The president offered what he called an “all-of-the-above” response, based on more domestic oil production, development of alternative energy sources and stricter fuel-efficiency standards.

—Mark Landler, The New York Times

Senegal election troubled by atypical unrest

DAKAR, Senegal — A president refusing to give up power despite advancing age and legal limits. An opposition crying foul. Young men in the streets throwing rocks at the police while choking on tear gas.

That situation, repeated frequently at election time in Africa’s western bulge, was not supposed to happen in Senegal, a rare part of the continent where free voting has occurred since the late 19th century.

Those who have worked for Wade suggest that the electoral conflict is rooted in his penchant for frequently shuffling his Cabinet (he has had nearly 200 ministers, said one of his six former prime ministers, Macky Sall), tinkering with his country’s constitution and revising his grandiose, often unrealized development plans.

—Adam Nossiter, The New York Times

EU forecasts ‘mild recession’ for eurozone in 2012

BRUSSELS — The report is likely to intensify concerns that as countries enact austerity measures to appease the debt markets, they are undermining the economic growth needed to help pull them out of financial distress.

The economies of the Netherlands and Belgium are expected to contract this year; both suffered in the global business downturn.

The only countries projected to grow by more than two percent this year — Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — are East European and outside the common currency bloc.

A recovery is “forecast for the second half of the year but expected to be more modest and to occur later than forecast in the autumn,” the report said.

—Stephen Castle, The New York Times