TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1200 GMT

SYRIA

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The international chemical weapons watchdog wmeets to endorse a plan to destroy Syria's deadly poison gas and nerve agent arsenal, most likely somewhere outside the Mideast country. Fine-tuning of the plan continued into the afternoon. By Mike Corder: SENT: 710 words.

SOCHI-TIGHT SECURITY

MOSCOW — The organizers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event, raising concerns that they are stifling dissent and violating privacy under the pretext of fulfilling their pledge to make the games "the safest Olympics in history." With an Islamist insurgency raging across the North Caucasus Mountains east of the Black Sea resort, Russia's security agencies have had carte blanche to ensure that nothing spoils President Vladimir Putin's pet project. While the official line is that the stringent measures are meant to block the terror threat, critics say the Kremlin is equally concerned about preventing anti-Putin protesters from raising an embarrassing ruckus at the games. By Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

GREECE-IMMIGRANT DEATHS

ATHENS, Greece — Twelve migrants were found dead Friday and a further 15 were rescued after a boat capsized in western Greece, authorities said. The Merchant Marine Ministry said the victims included four children. The accident occurred early Friday, off the coast of Lefkada, an island in the Ionian Sea. The migrants were presumed to have been headed to nearby Italy from the western Greek mainland. SENT: 310 words.

CZECH-MEDICAL MARIJUANA

TYN NAD VLTAVOU, Czech Republic — Just three years ago, the only thing that Zdenek Majzlik knew about cannabis was that it's good stuff for making rope. Today, the 67-year-old retired nuclear power plant employee is an experienced grower who cultivates pot for his daughter who has multiple sclerosis. Majzlik faces a thorny dilemma: The Czech Republic legalized medical marijuana use this year, but maintained strict restrictions on growing, selling and importing it. For Majzlik, the solution is breaking the law to grow pot for his daughter. By Karel Janicek. SENT: 900 words, photos,

KOSOVO-SECURITY

PRISTINA, Kosovo — International and local security forces in Kosovo are boosting their presence in the country's volatile north to prevent a repeat of electoral violence that forced a vote re-run in the Serb part of the city of Mitrovica. NATO-led peacekeepers and European Union police will be stationed alongside Kosovo police outside polling stations ahead of Sunday's vote, the security forces said in a joint statement on Friday. SENT: 140 words.

SLOVENIA

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia's government has survived a confidence vote, boosting its efforts to avoid seeking an international bailout. Following a 19-hour debate, lawmakers voted 50-31 early on Friday to back the government of Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek. The vote was tied to the 2014 budget, which was sharply criticized by the opposition. SENT: 130 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

EUROPE-FINANCIAL-CRISIS

BRUSSELS — European finance ministers are holding talks on how to shore up their banking system and prevent further financial crises. Officials from the 28 member countries are meeting Friday to narrow their differences on how to set up a new agency at the European Union level that could restructure failing banks and prevent their troubles from bankrupting individual countries through expensive bailouts. By David McHugh and John-Thor Dahlberg. SENT: 410 words, photos. UPCOMING: update at 1300 GMT.

SPAIN-JPMORGAN-TRADING-LOSS-PROBE

MADRID — A former JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader wanted by the United States for allegedly falsifying bank records to cover up $6 billion in trading losses has told Spain's National Court he will challenge extradition. A court spokesman said Friday that Javier Martin-Artajo, 49, opposes the petition because he is Spanish. The court will now study the U.S. request and hold a hearing at a later date. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with court regulations. By Jorge Sainz. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1300 GMT.

WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — The mood in financial markets remained optimistic Friday, a day after the main U.S. indexes struck all-time highs following a signal from the incoming Federal Reserve chief that the current massive stimulus will continue for some time yet. Janet Yellen, who is slated to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chief early next year, made clear Thursday that she's prepared, if needed, to continue the central bank's extraordinary efforts to pump up the world's No. 1 economy when she's chairman. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 480 words, photos. UPCOMING: updated at 1350 GMT

FINLAND-FINNAIR

HELSINKI — Some 10,000 passengers were affected by flight cancellations at Finnair on Friday and Saturday, as the Finnish national carrier prepared for a planned strike by cabin crews and other personnel that was averted only at the last minute. The airline said 130 flights were canceled to prepare for the impending strike that would have "paralyzed" its traffic for some two weeks. It said Friday it was making alternative arrangements for passengers, with normal traffic expected to resume "within a few days." SENT: 150 words.

145 words sent

OIL-PRICES

LONDON — The price of oil rose toward $94 a barrel Friday after incoming Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen indicated that economic stimulus will remain in place pending further improvement in the U.S. economy. Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was up 6 cents to $93.82 a barrel, late morning European time, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 12 cents to close at $93.76 on Thursday. SENT: 260 words.