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John Kerry to receive Secretary of State nomination

US President Barack Obama will nominate Senator John Kerry, a veteran foreign policy hand and former presidential candidate, as his next secretary of state on Friday, a US official told AFP. The current holder of Washington’s top diplomatic post, Hillary Clinton, had indicated that she wishes to step down after…

Georgia rebuilds Stalin monuments

A Joseph Stalin statue went back up in the Georgian village of Alvani on Friday in a sign of the slipping authority of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who had ordered its removal. The pro-Western president is serving out what some are calling a lame-duck term ahead of elections next year from…

Dutch impound Steve Jobs superyacht over unpaid bill

Steve Jobs’ Dutch-built superyacht has been impounded in Amsterdam because of a dispute between the late Apple founder’s estate and designer Philippe Starck over an unpaid bill, a Starck lawyer said Friday. “The yacht has been impounded,” Rotterdam-based lawyer Roelant Klaassen, who represents French designer Starck’s Ubik company, told AFP.…

Disappointed journalists outnumber doomsayers in Turkish ‘apocalypse haven’ of Sirince

As the village of Sirince waited for what some say is an apocalypse from which the tiny Turkish hamlet will be spared, its streets were teeming not with doomsayers but a hoard of disappointed journalists. Hundreds of reporters were wandering aimlessly around the beautiful town of 570 inhabitants Thursday, hoping…

Hunger and homelessness rise dramatically in the U.S.: study

Hunger and homelessness are on the rise in the United States, and cash-strapped cities and social services are being forced to turn needy people away empty-handed, a study published Thursday found. The number of homeless people seeking help had increased seven percent from 2011, according to a survey of social…

U.S. House approves sweeping $633 billion defense spending bill

The US House passed a $633 billion defense authorization bill that includes fresh sanctions against Iran and funds the war in Afghanistan, while offering compromise language on military detention of US citizens. In addition to covering standard national security expenses, it also provides a 1.7-percent pay raise for the military,…

North Korea confirms arrest of U.S. citizen

North Korea confirmed Friday that it had arrested a US citizen in November, saying legal action would be taken against him but giving no details of the charges. The man, identified as Pae Jun-Ho, entered North Korea on November 3 as a tourist, and “committed a crime” against the country,…

Americans eschew perfection as they turn to smaller, wilder Christmas trees

It’s short. It’s scruffy. It’s practically anorexic. And this season, the Charlie Brown Christmas tree is a shining star in Alan Gibson’s tree farm. The cut-priced coniferous outlier among the noble balsam, concolor and Douglas firs at Ridgefield Farm and Orchard symbolizes a growing American preference for shorter, wilder Christmas…

Julian Assange: WikiLeaks is preparing to publish one million new secret government documents

Founder of whistleblowing website marks six months’ confinement in Ecuadorean embassy with bullish speech Julian Assange has said that WikiLeaks is preparing to publish 1m new secret government documents as he marked six months of refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with a speech from its balcony on Thursday.…

U.K. pays Iraqi torture victims millions in compensation

Lawyers and human rights groups say 400 settlements show ‘systemic’ abuse The Ministry of Defence has paid out £14m in compensation and costs to hundreds of Iraqis who complained that they were illegally detained and tortured by British forces during the five-year occupation of the south-east of the country. Hundreds…

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