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UN fears ‘deteriorating’ human rights in Afghanistan

The UN human rights chief on Tuesday expressed fears that progress made in Afghanistan since the fall of the hardline Taliban regime in 2001 was draining away as NATO-led troops withdraw. Navi Pillay said on a visit to Kabul that she had heard growing evidence of a sharp reversal in…

Chinese demand fuels record soy crop production in South America

Soy fields stretch as far as the eye can see in South America’s fertile plains, boosted by a jump in demand from China and Europe. With more than 82 million tonnes harvested this year, Brazil is jostling for first place as a producer with the United States, hit by a…

Pakistani activist Malala and whistleblower Edward Snowden nominated for EU’s Sakharov prize

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ education, and US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden have been nominated for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize. Malala, who has become emblematic of the fight against the most radical forms of Islamism, is backed by the…

‘Technical glitch’ brings down Iranian censorship firewall

A technical glitch allowed some Iranians temporary access to banned social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, an Iranian Internet official said on Tuesday. Surprised Internet users in Iran Monday night were able to log onto their accounts without using illegal software that enables them to circumvent a widespread state-run filtering…

Brachiaria ‘super grass’ could vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, say scientists

Brachiaria grasses inhibit the release of nitrous oxide, which has a more powerful warming effect than carbon dioxide or methane Scientists will call for a major push this week to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture through the use of a modified tropical grass. Brachiaria grasses have…

Colbert: ‘Throw the disabled in the river, see if they float’

During “The Word” segment on last night’s Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert discussed the case of an Oregon man who’s posting threatening fliers on the homes of people he believes to be disabled. The man, who goes by “Artemis of the wildland,” believes that people on disability are “a threat to…

Cher rejects Russian oligarch’s invite: I won’t play Winter Olympics due to country’s anti-LGBT laws

Singer claims to have rejected invitation from oligarch friend to perform at ceremonies over concerns about recent legislation Cher claims to have rejected an invitation to perform at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Although she was asked to participate in February’s official opening ceremonies, the singer said she “immediately” refused out…

JPMorgan Chase pays $700 million in ‘London whale’ settlement

JPMorgan Chase will pay at least $700 million in fines as part of a settlement linked to its handling of its “London whale” trading loss, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Wall Street banking giant is expected to admit guilt as part of the settlement, the Journal said. JPMorgan’s trading…

Taliban shooting survivor’s activism honored by Amnesty International

Rights group Amnesty International announced on Tuesday it had awarded its highest honour to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot in the head last year by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education. Malala will share the 2013 Ambassador of Conscience Award with American singer and human rights activist Harry…

Slain designer Gianni Versace’s former mansion set for auction

The palatial Miami mansion where iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered goes under the hammer on Tuesday with auctioneers hoping to clinch a sale for as much as $40 million. Bidding for the Mediterranean-styled estate on Miami Beach’s prestigious Ocean Drive, just steps from the sea, is to start…

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