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Hong Kong cries fowl as giant rubber duck deflates

The giant inflatable rubber duck which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it sailed into Hong Kong two weeks ago was reduced to a sad deflated disc on Wednesday in the city’s harbour. Duck mania has gripped Hong Kong since its arrival, with locals and tourists flocking to…

North Korea has ‘no nuclear warhead’ to fit on a missile: U.S. official

North Korea has yet to develop a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile, a senior US official said on Wednesday, contradicting a recent US military intelligence report. The North claimed its third atomic test staged in February involved a “miniaturised and lighter” warhead, prompting speculation that it…

U.S. ambassador asked to explain presence of alleged undercover CIA agent working in Russia

US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Wednesday met officials at the foreign ministry after being summoned to explain the presence of an alleged CIA agent working undercover at the embassy who was detained this week. Russia on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of the alleged US agent, identified as Ryan…

Environmentalists outraged as Rio Tinto mine gets go-ahead

Australia on Wednesday gave Rio Tinto the go-ahead for a controversial Aus$1.3 billion (US$1.3 billion) bauxite mine project in a decision environmentalists blasted as “vandalism on a grand scale”. After more than a year of delays, Environment Minister Tony Burke approved Rio Tinto Alcan’s South of Embley bauxite mine and…

Aussie town readies for Daft Punk while world listens

The small Australian town of Wee Waa is readying for its global launch of the new album by French group Daft Punk, despite being pipped at the post with the music already available online. Wee Waa, a farming town known as the “Cotton Capital of Australia”, lies about 500 kilometres…

Cyclone triggers mass evacuations in Bangladesh and Myanmar

Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Myanmar were ordered Wednesday to move to safety as a cyclone barrelled towards low-lying coastal areas. The United Nations has warned that more than eight million people could be at risk from Cyclone Mahasen, which is expected to make landfall on Thursday…

Obama vows to punish IRS staff who targeted tea party groups

Barack Obama has pledged Internal Revenue Service employees who discriminated against Tea Party groups will be held accountable after an independent watchdog heavily criticised the tax organisation for “inappropriate” behaviour. Obama – who on Monday said he was withholding his final judgement until he saw the report – made his…

Activists protest possible sale of the Los Angeles Times to the Koch brothers

Unions, activists and artists held a rally on Tuesday, to protest the possible sale of the Los Angeles Times to the Koch brothers, warning that such a sale would turn one of the US’s great newspapers into a right-wing mouthpiece. Hundreds gathered outside the downtown Los Angeles office of Oaktree…

Angeline Jolie emerges as cancer crusader after double mastectomy

As an international sex symbol, a mother of six, a UN ambassador and a tattooed tabloid target, Angelina Jolie has never been one to shun the spotlight. But the A-list Hollywood star’s biggest headline grabber to date may be the shock revelation that she had a double mastectomy to cut…

Walmart promises to inspect Bangladesh garment factories

Giant retailer Walmart announced Tuesday that it would conduct in-depth safety inspections of all 279 of its Bangladesh suppliers, in the wake of the building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people. The US retailer said it would release publicly the names and inspection information on each of the factories,…

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