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Iran spares life of drug trafficker who survived hanging attempt

Iran has decided to spare the life of a convicted drug trafficker who survived a hanging, media reports on Wednesday quoted Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as saying. The reports follow calls from within Iran and appeals from international rights groups against the man found alive in a morgue facing execution…

Tuberculosis killed 1.3 million in 2012, World Health Organization says

Global efforts to rein in tuberculosis helped cut the death toll to 1.3 million last year, but drug-resistant forms of the disease are sparking huge concern, the WHO said Wednesday. The TB toll is the world’s second-highest for an infectious disease, after HIV/AIDS. In its annual report on the fight…

The ‘bootlaces’ of Beowulf’s weird fire – an unnatural history of honey fungus

The ghostly glow of this fungus – bioluminescence – appears in the Old English epic poem Fluted pillars rise ghostly pale to support roofs like golden brown handkerchiefs as if they are alien creatures breathing through hundreds of delicate gills and not well adapted to daylight and air. They come…

Biography reveals Rupert Murdoch clings to ‘outsider’ role despite his media empire

Rupert Murdoch still sees himself as an anti-establishment outsider, even after building the most powerful media empire on the planet, a new book on the tycoon says. “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires” by David Folkenflik says the Australian-born US magnate remains distrustful of governments following his…

Graft-weary Czech voters pin parliament hopes on ‘incorruptible’ tycoon

Irked by the never-ending litany of graft scandals plaguing Czech politics, voters are rallying behind a self-professed “incorruptible” tycoon set to enter parliament for the first time in elections this week. The meteoric rise of Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babis comes in the wake of a nosedive by centre-right parties, which…

British engineers create radar device inspired by dolphin ‘pulses’

British engineers said Wednesday they had taken inspiration from dolphins for a new type of radar device that could easily track miners trapped underground or skiers buried in an avalanche. The device, like dolphins, sends out two pulses in quick succession to allow for a targeted search for semiconductor devices,…

Australian firefighters brace for the worst in a wildfire ‘flare up’

Firefighters in Australia braced for hot, dry winds and soaring temperatures Wednesday with lightning also posing a problem as they battle to prevent a week-long bushfire disaster getting worse. As the crisis entered its seventh day, 59 fires were raging across the state of New South Wales with 19 of…

Sebelius defends Obamacare website performance: ‘We’re early in the first quarter’

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated her defense of the online sign-up process for health care under the Affordable Care Act in an interview on Tuesday with CNN host Dr. Sanjay Gupta, insisting that the problems users have reported have come early in the roll-out process. “We’re early…

NSA revelations give ‘Monsieur Kerry’ a rockier road in France

NSA revelations give ‘Monsieur Kerry’ a rockier road in France (via The Christian Science Monitor) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris on Tuesday. US-French relations have proven rockier than expected during Mr. Kerry’s tenure, thanks…

U.S. official denies strain in relationship with Saudi Arabia

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia remain strong, a US official insisted Tuesday, brushing aside a report its key Gulf ally was seeking to distance itself from Washington amid differences over Syria. Asked if Riyadh had told Washington that it planned to cut back cooperation, the official replied:…

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