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Chavez heir Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela vote by slim margin as opposition cries foul

Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro was declared the winner of the election to succeed his late mentor Hugo Chavez by a razor-thin margin late Sunday, but his rival refused to concede defeat. The contested result plunged the deeply divided oil-rich South American country into uncertainty, with the handpicked heir of…

Anne Frank museum defends Justin Bieber after ‘belieber’ controversy

Amsterdam’s Anne Frank museum on Monday defended teen idol Justin Bieber amid a furor over his comments that he hoped the Jewish teen who died in a Nazi camp would have been a fan. “We think that what’s special is that a 19-year-old comes to the Anne Frank House and…

Afghanistan’s opium cultivation to surge in 2013: UN

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is expected to increase for a third straight year, expanding even to poppy-free areas this year, a United Nations report warned on Monday. The Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment 2013 said Afghanistan was moving towards record levels of opium production this year despite eradication efforts by…

John Kerry urges talks as world watches for North Korea missile

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the US will talk with North Korea if it takes “meaningful steps” towards peace, as the world watched to see if Pyongyang will mark its founder’s birthday with a missile launch. The isolated state has a habit of linking high-profile military tests with…

Security tightens because of threats to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday will be surrounded by tight security as police fear protesters opposed to her political legacy and anarchists could try to disrupt the ceremonial occasion. The British former prime minister has been as divisive in death as she was in life and police are taking no…

Endangered pangolins found on Chinese poacher boat

The Philippine coast guard said Monday it had found hundreds of frozen scaly anteaters, or pangolins, in the cargo hold of a Chinese boat that ran aground in a protected marine sanctuary last week. Wildlife officials have been informed of the surprising discovery, which could lead to more charges for…

Antarctic summer ice melting 10 times faster: study

Summer ice in the Antarctic is melting 10 times quicker than it was 600 years ago, with the most rapid melt occurring in the last 50 years, a joint Australian-British study showed Monday. A research team from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey drilled a 364-metre (1,194…

Chinese media urges poultry consumption despite H7N9 flu fears as industry loses $1.6 billion in one week

China’s poultry industry lost 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in the week after the H7N9 bird flu virus began infecting humans, state-run media said on Monday as they sought to discourage panic. Altogether 60 people have been confirmed as infected and 13 have died in the two weeks since Chinese…

Greenpeace activists plant North Pole flag to fight Arctic oil drilling

Activists have planted a flag at the North Pole along with millions of signatures calling for the Arctic to be declared a global sanctuary protected from oil drilling, lobby group Greenpeace said on Monday. Expedition members cut a hole in the ice and lowered the “flag for the future” onto…

Hong Kong arts community fights for legacy of pioneering graffiti artist ‘King of Kowloon’

His graffiti once plastered Hong Kong, dense black ink calligraphy applied with a brush to any public surface, telling the outlandish story of why he believed the territory belonged to him. The self-declared “King of Kowloon”, Tsang Tsou-choi, lived in poverty but became a local hero and internationally renowned artist,…

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