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Samaritans in Taiwan turn plastic junk into items for the needy

Some 40 people stand ankle-deep in used plastic bottles in the yard of a recycling station in Taipei, stamping them flat in the first step of a process that will transform the junk into usable goods. At the station operated by Taiwan’s largest charity group Tzu Chi Foundation, hundreds of…

Vatican issues postage stamp marking Benedict XVI’s departure

The Vatican post office Friday issued a set of stamps for use during the “Sede Vacante”, or Vacant See, created by the historic resignation of pope Benedict XVI. The unusual interregnum stamps, a series of four, include the Vacant See symbol — a striped umbrella over crossed keys — as…

Homeland Security chief calls for immigration overhaul after mass releases

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano affirmed that security at the U.S.-Mexico border is tighter than ever and encouraged a more comprehensive approach to immigration report in an interview with ABC News on Thursday. “We’re putting mobile surveillance so that we can move around and watch and we have increased the…

Brazilian president confirms nuclear sub project as ‘defense deterrent’

Brazil is set to join the select group of countries that have nuclear-powered submarines, President Dilma Rousseff said Friday. Rousseff stressed Brazil was committed to peace but also needed its defense deterrent, as she inaugurated a naval shipyard in Rio de Janeiro state where the country’s first nuclear-powered sub is…

Despite U.S. budget mess, Dow reports 5-year high

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new five-year high Friday as investors looked past the risks to the economy of impending federal spending cuts and bid up equities. The Dow jumped 35.17 points (0.25 percent) to 14,089.66, less than 100 points from all-time high of 14,164.53 on October 9,…

Hong Kong moves to stop baby formula smuggling

A Hong Kong regulation came into force Friday barring people from crossing into mainland China with large quantities of baby formula following chronic shortages which have fuelled anti-Beijing sentiment. Formula is popular with mainland Chinese because of concerns about the safety of food processed in China after a series of…

Death of Russian adoptee in Texas ruled accidental

The death of a young boy adopted from Russia at his Texas home was an accident and the bruises found on his body were ruled “self-inflicted,” US media reported Friday, citing a corner’s report. The Kremlin’s children’s rights envoy Pavel Astakhov sparked a firestorm last month by declaring that Max…

European Union cracks down on illegal timber trade

The European Union is cracking down on the timber trade in an effort to curb illegal logging, blamed for a host of ills from social upheaval to environmental and economic damage. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Friday that new rules effective from Sunday would affect everyone in…

Michigan Gov. Snyder declares Detroit in state of ‘financial emergency’

Emergency state ‘not hard to justify’ says Snyder when faced with recent damning report claiming Detroit close to collapse The governor of Michigan declared the city of Detroit to be in a state of “financial emergency” Friday and said he would appoint an independent overseer in an attempt to save it from financial ruin.…

Obama blames Republicans for ‘dumb’ and ‘arbitrary’ spending cuts

President warns US to prepare for drawn-out standoff after futile meeting with congressional leaders over scheduled cuts Barack Obama is due to sign an order before midnight on Friday to implement $85bn in spending cuts, a move he described as “dumb” and “arbitrary” and that he blamed on the intransigence of Republicans in…

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