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China holds general’s son for gang rape

China has detained the 17-year-old son of a general on suspicion of involvement in a gang rape, reports said Friday, the latest allegation against the privileged children of officials to spark public outrage. Li Tianyi, the son of general Li Shuangjiang — a popular singer and household name in the…

Locksmiths and firemen refuse to aid evictions in Spain

Locksmiths and firemen in Spain are rebelling against a wave of evictions in the economic crisis by refusing to help bailiffs open ruined homeowners’ doors to throw them out. “Families’ lives were being ruined and we were acting as executioners,” David Ormaechea, president of the Locksmiths Union, told AFP. “It…

Australia gambles on move to tackle slot machine addicts

It’s just after morning opening at Sydney’s Randwick Labor Club and already a few regulars are at the slot machines, or “pokies” as they are better known, for a quiet flutter. Electronic poker machines are the most popular form of betting in Australia, but concerns about problem gamblers have prompted…

Guatemala checking whether Mexico drug lord was killed in clash

Guatemalan authorities are investigating whether Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was killed in an armed clash near the Mexican border, the interior minister said. “The first information we have is that it could be him,” Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez told local radio, without giving details about who…

Pistorius bail hearing enters final day

“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, facing trial for having shot dead his girlfriend, hopes to secure bail Friday as prosecutors struggled to regain lost ground after the replacement of the lead officer in the investigation. South Africa’s police commissioner Riah Phiyega announced that lead officer Hilton Botha was being replaced after…

Chavez’s breathing problem persists: minister

Venezuela’s cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez is still suffering from respiratory problems, and the evolution of that condition “has not been favorable,” the information minister said. Chavez, who returned home early Monday after a fourth cancer surgery and more than two months of convalescence in Cuba, will receive more treatment for…

Activists press for additional $25 billion in fines against BP over Gulf oil spill

BP should be on the hook for an additional $25bn to restore environmental damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, even if the company is hit with a record-breaking $17.6bn in fines at a civil trial next week, campaign groups said on Thursday. BP will face the largest environmental…

Scientists warn of melting permafrost if temperatures continue to rise

A global temperature rise of 1.5C would be enough to start the melting of permafrost in Siberia, scientists warned on Thursday. Any widespread thaw in Siberia’s permanently frozen ground could have severe consequences for climate change. Permafrost covers about 24% of the land surface of the northern hemisphere, and widespread…

Obama urged to defend ‘jailbreaking’ of smart phones

The White House will soon have to dial in a response to a petition asking that mobile phone users be allowed to switch locked devices to new carriers, a process known as “jailbreaking.” An obscure official’s decision that the “jailbreaking” of phones violates US copyright law has generated a flurry…

Biden on gun control: The American people are with us

Just miles from the site of the Newtown school massacre, Vice President Joe Biden warned Thursday that US politicians would pay a price if they refuse to back measures to stem gun violence. Biden said in Danbury, Connecticut that there had been a change in American politics which made it…

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