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New UN AIDS deputy hails Brazil progress

The newly appointed deputy chief of the United Nations HIV-fighting program, Brazilian Luiz Loures, hailed his own country’s achievements in the fight against the deadly global epidemic in an interview published Saturday. “We are beginning to talk of the end of the epidemic. Scientific progress makes it possible,” Loures told…

William and Kate snub queen for Middletons’ Christmas

Prince William and his pregnant wife Catherine will spend Christmas Day at her parents’ family house, instead of with Queen Elizabeth II, British royal officials said Saturday. The second-in-line to the throne and the former Kate Middleton will be at the Middleton residence in Bucklebury, a village west of London,…

Voters, but few tourists, around Egypt’s pyramids

As Egypt’s voters turned out on Saturday for a final round of a referendum on a divisive, Islamist-backed constitution, workers at Cairo’s pyramids located near some polling stations lamented the turmoil that has caused tourists to flee. “Currently there is no tourism in Egypt,” grumbled Adel Anwar, the 32-year-old owner…

Pope pardons butler, expels him from Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for leaking secret papal memos, but banished him from the Vatican. “This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to…

Hugh Grant wins ‘substantial’ phone-hacking damages from Murdoch tabloid

Hugh Grant has accepted a “substantial sum” from Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid publisher over phone hacking by the News of the World, the British actor’s lawyer said on Friday. The “Four Weddings and a Funeral” star will donate the damages to the Hacked Off campaign against press intrusion, solicitor Mark…

Drug war leaves 20,000 missing people in Mexico: report

More than 20,000 people have disappeared in Mexico over the past six years of a brutal crackdown on drugs during the government of former president Felipe Calderon, a civic group said. Propuesta Civica (Civic Proposal) released a database on its website Thursday listing 20,851 people who went missing from August…

Argentina disputes Britain renaming a part of Antarctica in honor of Queen Elizabeth II

Argentina summoned Britain’s ambassador Friday to complain about London’s decision to rename a disputed part of Antarctica in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. Buenos Aires expressed its “firm rejection” of Britain’s claim to the territory, which Argentina considers “an area in the Argentine Antarctic sector.” Foreign Minister William Hague last…

Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher faces Christmas in the hospital

Britain’s former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was in hospital Saturday recovering from a minor operation to remove a growth in her bladder and may remain there over Christmas, friends said. The 87-year-old “Iron Lady”, Britain’s first and only female premier, was doing “absolutely fine” having been admitted to hospital on…

Obama calls for scaled-back ‘fiscal cliff’ package to ‘protect middle-class taxpayers’

Democrat and Republican lawmakers mulled their next move Saturday after leaving Washington for the Christmas holidays without an agreement on averting a year-end fiscal crisis that could lead to stiff tax hikes and drastic budget cuts. On Friday, US President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to pass a scaled-down tax package…

Racist Burger King spitting incident settled out of court

Burger King spitting suit: Racism in a Whopper Jr.? (+video) A Burger King franchise in Pennsylvania settled a lawsuit out of court with a black Ohio truck driver who claimed that his Whooper Jr. was served with spit. Glenn Goodwin settled the civil rights lawsuit with Fast Food  Enterprises #3,…

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