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Hardline cleric and election watchdog proclaims that Iranian women cannot run for presidency

Women can not contest Iran’s June 14 presidential election, a member of the Islamic state’s electoral watchdog said in media reports on Friday, dashing the hopes of some 30 female candidates. “The law prohibits women from being president,” said hardline cleric and former judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, quoted by…

Ritual circumcision kills 23 men and boys in South Africa

South African police said Friday they had launched a series of murder inquiries after 23 males died while undergoing circumcision during traditional rites of passage into manhood. The 23 — aged between 13 and 21 — died in various places across the country’s northeastern Mpumalanga province over the course of…

Greek parents welcome adult children moving back in thanks to financial crisis

In a society where family ties traditionally play a prominent role, Greece’s deep economic crisis apparently offers a few Greek mothers a reason to be happy. While financial hardship may have forced many to seek their fortune abroad, it has also obliged an increasing number of young people to return…

Russia dismisses uproar over Syria arms sales

Russia’s foreign minister said Friday he did not understand the international uproar created by Moscow’s continuing weapons cooperation with regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “I do not understand why the media is trying to create a sensation out of this,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “We have not hidden…

Israel rabbi speaks out on being gay and Orthodox

In openly displaying his homosexuality while serving as an Orthodox rabbi, Ron Yosef has broken a major taboo in the closed religious world that he inhabits. Although May 17 is to be marked International Day Against Homophobia, the biblical stance on homosexuality remains clearly laid out in Leviticus, one of…

Hong Kong light railway accident injures 50

Up to 50 people were injured when multiple cars derailed on Hong Kong’s light railway in the north of the city, throwing passengers onto the floor. “There was a derailment on the light rail and right now, there are 40 to 50 injuries,” a police spokeswoman told AFP.…

Ai Weiwei creates giant map of China from baby formula

A map of China made from more than 1,800 cans of baby formula created by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei went on show in Hong Kong Friday, reflecting the controversy over mainland demand for milk powder. A surge in demand for formula in China sparked by fears over the safety…

Scientists prepare to explore the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Scientists are to set off on a research expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on May 20. The patch is a huge mass of rubbish held in place by swirling underwater currents in the north-east of the Pacific Ocean. This build-up of marine debris is a danger to many…

Rio Tinto puts largest ‘red’ diamond on market

Rio Tinto said Friday it was putting up for sale the biggest “red” diamond ever produced by its Australian mine amid an “explosion” in demand from Asia for the rare pink-hued stones. The Argyle Phoenix, a 1.56 carat gem, is one of three red diamonds on offer at the annual…

U.S. soldier gets life for 2009 killings in Iraq

A U.S. soldier convicted of killing five of his colleagues in Iraq in May 2009 was sentenced to life behind bars and dishonorably discharged. Army Sergeant John Russell was convicted earlier this week over the murders at a clinic for soldiers suffering from war-related stress at Camp Liberty, the largest…

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