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Benghazi report forces resignation of three State Department officials

Three US State Department officials have resigned after a damning investigation into the killing of the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi in on 11 September found “systematic failures” of leadership and “grossly inadequate” security. The report said that US personnel on the ground acted with “courage and…

Obama calls for gun violence proposals within a month

President Barack Obama on Wednesday set up a task force to frame “concrete proposals” on ending an “epidemic” of firearms violence by next month, and denied he had been on “vacation” on gun control. With trauma still raw after the Connecticut school massacre last week, Obama put Vice President Joe…

Three astronauts blast off for ISS in Russian craft

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts blasted off on Wednesday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan bound for the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft took off on schedule at 1212 GMT carrying Russian Roman Romanenko, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield,…

Palestinians flee Damascus camp battles in droves

Talks were held on Wednesday aimed at removing both rebel and pro-government fighters from a Damascus Palestinian refugee camp after deadly clashes, a Palestinian relief official told AFP, as the UN spoke of residents fleeing in droves. “Palestinian organisations that have remained neutral are overseeing talks between the (rebel) Free…

U.S. to open military ties soon with Myanmar: official

The United States is poised to take “nascent steps” to open up military ties with Myanmar as a way of bolstering political reforms undertaken by the former pariah state, a senior US defense official said Wednesday. The Pentagon said the cooperation likely would take the form of “non-lethal” training for…

Canada probes scheme to exploit U.S. energy program

A train carrying biodiesel crisscrossed the Canada-US border repeatedly without unloading its cargo, exploiting a loophole in a US green energy program, Canada’s public broadcaster reported Wednesday. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, citing sources who knew of the scheme, said authorities here are investigating Toronto-based Bioversel Trading Inc. which allegedly organized…

Obama urged to veto NDAA over Guantanamo provisions

A large coalition of human rights and civil liberties groups urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to veto the annual defense spending bill over provisions related to the Guantanamo Bay Prison Facility. Groups like Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch are pressuring Obama to veto…

Facebook co-founder Zuckerberg donates $500 million to charity

With Christmas just days away, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced a donation of about a half-billion dollars worth of his company’s stock to charity in Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, gave 18 million shares to a foundation to orchestrate grants for local causes focused on education and…

FTC unveils new online privacy rules for children

US regulators unveiled new rules Wednesday aimed at strengthening online privacy protection for children, to reflect the growing use of mobile apps and social networks. The Federal Trade Commission said its updated rules require online services to get consent from parents if they are aimed at children under 13 or…

Letters stolen from World War II Nazi postbox delivered after 71 years

Letters written by German soldiers stationed on the Channel Island of Jersey have finally been delivered, 71 years after they were stolen in an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation. The 90 letters and cards were taken just before Christmas 1941 by a group of young men who ‘liberated’…

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