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Virgin Galactic tourist spaceship breaks sound barrier

Virgin Galactic’s passenger spaceplane, which is designed to take tourists to the edge of space, flew its first rocket-powered test flight, breaking the sound barrier at high altitude. SpaceShipTwo ignited its engine Monday after being released by WhiteKnightTwo, a plane that carried it to 47,000 feet (14,000 meters) above California’s…

Brazilian priest excommunicated over support for LGBT community

A Catholic priest in southeastern Brazil was excommunicated on Monday after publicly resigning from his duties to protest against the church’s opposition to homosexuality. “Father Roberto Francisco Daniel can no longer celebrate the divine rite because he has been excommunicated,” a statement from the Bauru diocese in Sao Paulo state…

Four-year-old Indian girl dies after rape

A four-year-old Indian girl has died in hospital nearly two weeks after she was raped and found unconscious at a farm, hospital staff and reports said. The girl had been taken by air ambulance from central Madhya Pradesh state to the Care Hospital in Nagpur city on April 20, where…

BP says Q1 net profits triple to $16.86 billion despite falling output

British energy giant BP said Tuesday that net profits almost tripled in the first quarter of 2013, boosted by the sale of its stake in Russian joint venture TNK-BP, despite falling oil and gas output. Earnings after taxation surged to $16.86 billion (12.87 billion euros) in the three months to…

Obama urged to address drug war related human rights violations during visit to Mexico

US President Barack Obama should address human rights violations related to Mexico’s Washington-backed war on drugs when he visits the country this week, Human Rights Watch urged. Obama is slated to meet Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December and inherited a drug war that had killed…

Bollywood dynasties keep it in the family as India celebrates 100 years of cinema

As Indian cinema turns 100 years old, one powerful Bollywood dynasty can trace the roots of their stardom almost right back to the birth of the national film industry. “We have been there throughout. All the milestones of cinema, there has been some Kapoor or the other,” says 60-year-old Rishi…

Amanda Knox mulling return to Italy for murder retrial: report

Amanda Knox has refused to rule out returning to Italy for her murder retrial in the grisly 2007 slaying of her British house-mate, USA Today reported on its website Tuesday. Knox, 25, was ordered to stand trial again by Italian authorities last month in the latest twist of the legal…

American extremist in Somalia battles ex-comrades: “‘I’m on a mission from God,’ minus the blues music”

An American extremist in Somalia is fighting former comrades in the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgent group, in what he says may be his final stand, he writes. Alabama-born Omar Hamami — better known as Al-Amriki or “the American” — once fought alongside the hardline Shebab in Somalia, but last year…

King Willem-Alexander takes Dutch throne

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander became Europe’s youngest monarch on Tuesday after his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated and his country hailed the avowedly 21st-century king with a massive, orange-hued party. “I Queen Beatrix… abdicate in favour of my son Willem-Alexander,” the act said, as read out before the signing that was…

Britain to end direct aid to South Africa in 2015

Britain announced Tuesday that it will cut off direct aid to South Africa in 2015, citing its status as Africa’s biggest economy. London currently gives £19 million of bilateral aid a year to Pretoria, down from a peak of more than £40 million in 2003. Britain said its relationship with…

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