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Google reports ‘steady increase’ in gov’t requests for user data

Google on Wednesday reported a “steady increase” in government requests to hand over data from Internet users in the second half of 2012. The Web giant’s semiannual “transparency report” showed the most requests came from the the United States, with 8,438 requests for information about 14,868 users. India was second…

Women join ranks of Assad’s new paramilitary force in Syria

At 40 years of age, Abir Ramadan joined the all-female unit of Syria’s new paramilitary force, pledging loyalty to Bashar al-Assad in the armed struggle against those seeking to topple the president. Dressed in camouflage, she marches at a stadium in the central city of Homs, raising her fist and…

Drinking water restored to Chilean capital after 24-hour outage

Water has been restored in Chile’s capital Santiago after a 24-hour pollution-related outage that affected more than two million people, the water utility said Wednesday. The cut-off in the supply of drinking water to more than 593,000 homes from early Tuesday was linked to contamination in a key river that…

Secretary Clinton warns of rising militancy at Benghazi hearing

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of the challenges posed by rising militancy after the Arab Spring as she appeared before US lawmakers Wednesday to be grilled about a deadly attack. “Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Clinton said at the start of a Senate hearing into the…

Sundance study: Women directors fare better in independent films

Male film-makers might dominate the mainstream, but in the indie world the gender gap is closing, says Sundance survey Female directors remain woefully underrepresented in Hollywood but appear in greater numbers in the field of independent film, according to a new study commissioned by the Sundance film festival and Women in…

Facebook apologizes for blocking Gay Marriage USA founder after posting photo of mixed-race couple

By Benjamin Cohen, The Guardian Murray Lipp was unable to access service and received notification that photograph of a gay couple was ‘offensive’. Facebook has apologised after it blocked the operator of one of America’s leading same-sex marriage campaigns from accessing the service when he posted a photograph of a…

Chinese censors slash movie ‘Cloud Atlas’ by 40 minutes

Chinese authorities cut 40 minutes from the US epic movie “Cloud Atlas”, state-run media said, almost a quarter of the film. The reports came soon after deletions from the latest James Bond movie “Skyfall”, released this week in China, prompted public frustration and even oblique criticism in official media. “Cloud…

Traditional wrestling loses its grip on Pakistan

For decades, their practice ring honed the talent of Pakistan’s most famous wrestling family. Today, it is their graveyard, a fitting symbol of the decline of the sport in the Muslim nation. The Bholu brothers are buried next to a centuries-old Banyan tree to the side of their former ring.…

Russian refugees return to Moscow after fleeing Syria

Dozens of Russians fleeing the violence in Syria arrived back in Moscow on Wednesday, in the first operation organised by the Russian authorities to help its nationals escape. Two planes owned by the emergencies ministry carrying 77 people fleeing Syria touched down at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on a flight from…

Thai activist jailed for 11 years for ‘royal slurs’

A Thai political activist was jailed for 11 years Wednesday in the latest tough sentence under the kingdom’s controversial royal defamation law, to the dismay of human rights defenders. The European Union said it was “deeply concerned” by the punishment imposed on Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, 51, in connection with two articles…

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