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Saudi women defy driving ban

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi women are set to defy a ban on driving Friday, one month after Manal al-Sharif was jailed for taking the wheel and posting footage of her rebellious act online. The demonstrations are the climax of a two-month online campaign riding the winds of the so-called Arab…

UN rights council backs ‘historic’ gay equality bill

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN Human Rights Council on Friday passed a “historic” resolution that seeks equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, marking significant progress for gay rights. The resolution tabled by South Africa passed with 23 votes in favour, 19 against and three abstentions, despite strong opposition…

Hustler founder Larry Flynt offers job to Anthony Weiner

LOS ANGELES — Porn mogul Larry Flynt offered disgraced US lawmaker Anthony Weiner a job Thursday, after the New York congressman resigned over a tawdry “sexting” scandal. Hustler founder Flynt said he would pay Weiner, who posted pictures of his intimate anatomy to a number of women on Twitter, 20…

Blind China activist reportedly beaten unconscious

WASHINGTON — A blind Chinese activist who exposed abuses in Beijing’s population control policy was beaten unconscious by dozens of men led by a communist party official, his wife said in a letter released Thursday. Human rights groups earlier reported an attack on activist Chen Guangcheng in February, but the…

Boehner: Congress may cut funds for Libya conflict

WASHINGTON — Top Republican lawmaker John Boehner on Thursday hinted at a potential freeze of funds for military operations in Libya, saying the White House had failed to justify US involvement. Influential US senators meanwhile voiced their support for a bipartisan resolution at odds with such a move that would…

Strauss-Kahn tried to claim diplomatic immunity

NEW YORK — Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn initially tried to claim diplomatic immunity when he was arrested over the attempted rape of a hotel maid, official police transcripts revealed Thursday. The transcripts, released by the prosecution, showed that when Strauss-Kahn was being led by police from his first class seat…

U.S. Senate votes to end $6 billion ethanol subsidy

WASHINGTON — The US Senate voted Thursday to end a $6 billion subsidy for ethanol in a move that appeared largely symbolic but sends a message about the growing unease on support for the biofuel made mostly from corn. In a 73-27 vote, the Senate approved an amendment to end…

Congress presses Obama to sell F-16 jets to Taiwan

WASHINGTON — US lawmakers across party lines stepped up pressure Thursday on President Barack Obama to sell F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, with some accusing the administration of showing deference to China. “With over 1,600 missiles pointed directly across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan needs the means to defend itself from…

Chrysler recalls 11,000 vehicles to fix steering

NEW YORK — Chrysler is recalling more than 11,000 of its 2011 model year vehicles because of a potential steering problem, the US government said Thursday. Certain vehicles “may have been built with a missing or incorrectly installed steering column pivot rivet,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in…

Star-eating black hole sends flash from distant galaxy

WASHINGTON — A bright gamma-ray flash seen in March came from a distant galaxy nearly four billion light years away where a Sun-sized star was being eaten by a black hole, US astronomers said Thursday. The energy from the cataclysmic blast is still being observed two and a half months…

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