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UN: Iraq violence could lead to civil war

Violence in Iraq is on the rise and could lead towards civil war, the head of the UN human rights mission warned on Wednesday. “Iraq is really at a crossroads. I wouldn’t say we’re at a civil war yet, but the figures are not looking good,” Francesco Motta told AFP.…

Vanity Fair Italy names Pope Francis ‘man of the year’

Vanity Fair in Italy on Wednesday named Pope Francis its “man of the year”, saying the pontiff’s first 100 days at the Vatican had already made him one of the world’s top leaders. Splashing on its front page a picture of the 76-year-old in his simple white robes, the magazine…

Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ returns to Venice after 43 years

St Mark’s Square in Venice on Wednesday was the spectacular backdrop to a tragic opera in the first open-air performance in 43 years by the famous La Fenice theatre — a new must on the global culture calendar. La Fenice is staging Italian maestro Giuseppe Verdi’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Othello,…

Workplace smoking bans and cigarette taxes could save 9 million lives in India

Banning smoking in the workplace and levying a tobacco tax could prevent more than nine million deaths from cardiovascular disease in India over the next decade, according to a US study. In India, smoking is blamed for the deaths of one in five men, and one in three people report…

60 dead or missing after oil tanker train disaster in Canada

The number of dead or missing after the runaway oil tanker train disaster in a small Canadian town has risen to 60, police announced Wednesday, as the railway chairman headed to the scene. The confirmed death toll remained at 15, Quebec provincial police inspector Michel Forget told a press conference.…

Tearful Secretary Kerry thanks supporters after wife’s hospitalization

US Secretary of State John Kerry choked back tears Wednesday saying he had been “humbled” by the outpouring of support for his wife, who remains in hospital for tests after an apparent seizure. “Teresa is doing better, under evaluation and we hope improving,” Kerry said, opening two days of talks…

U.S. lags behind other wealthy nations in health and life expectancy

The United States spends more per capita on health care than any place in the world but lags behind other wealthy nations in health and life expectancy, according to research published on Wednesday. Japan still leads the world in terms of living the longest, with average life expectancy at 82.6…

Irish lawmakers to pass bill expanding access to abortion

Irish lawmakers are set to introduce abortion in limited cases where the mother’s life is at risk, when controversial new laws go to a final vote Wednesday night. The predominantly Catholic nation’s abortion laws faced global scrutiny after the death of 31-year-old Indian woman Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital…

Astronomers spot star embryo in largest ever galactic ‘womb’

Astronomers on Wednesday reported their best observation yet of a massive star embryo growing within a dark cloud — the largest stellar “womb” ever spotted in our Milky Way galaxy. The star, which could grow to 100 times the mass of our Sun and up to a million times brighter,…

Japan nuclear watchdog spots Fukushima ocean leak

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said Wednesday the crippled Fukushima reactors are very likely leaking highly radioactive substances into the Pacific Ocean. Members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority voiced frustration at Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), which has failed to identify the source and the cause of spiking readings of radioactive materials in…

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