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Israel bars Gaza runners from Bethlehem marathon

Israel has refused to grant permission to 26 runners from the Gaza Strip to travel to the West Bank to run in the first Bethlehem marathon on April 21, officials said on Thursday. The race, which begins at the Nativity Church, is the first event of its kind in the…

France’s Hollande blasts ‘homophobic’ violence following same-sex marriage protests

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday hit out at “homophobic” acts by opponents of a same-sex marriage bill following violent protests that included an overnight attack on a gay bar. The interior minister, meanwhile, asked protest organisers to throw out members of far-right organisations who have been involved in the…

Twitter launches music service based on users’ tweets

Twitter on Thursday launched a music service that recommends tunes based on what people are ‘tweeting’ about and lets people sample songs they might like. “We’re releasing Twitter #music, a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based firm said in a…

Hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay military prison face more restrictions than ever

It’s been 11 years since the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo Bay. But the future of the prison, and the fate of the men inside it, is far from certain.  With 59 detainees at Gitmo currently on hunger strike, by the military’s count, here’s a primer on what’s going…

Murakami book print run hits 1 million in week

The Japanese publisher of the new novel by Haruki Murakami said Thursday it had ordered one million copies of the book, less than a week after it went on sale. Bungeishunju Ltd. said “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years…

IMF chief to face court grilling in corruption probe

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has been summoned to appear before a court investigating alleged corruption during her time as a French government minister, her lawyer said Thursday. Lagarde has been ordered to appear before the court at the end of May to answer questions over her role in a scandal…

Transgender candidates stake claim in Pakistan vote

Stereotyped as dancers, beggars and prostitutes, Pakistan’s vibrant but shunned transgender community is striking out into politics with individuals contesting elections for the first time. They may only be seven out of 23,000 candidates with little chance of getting elected, but they have livened up an otherwise lacklustre campaign and…

Egypt’s Mubarak goes back to prison

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was transferred Thursday from a military hospital back to prison to await a retrial in May over his role in the deaths of protesters in 2011, a security source said. Mubarak was taken by ambulance to Tora prison under heavy security escort, the source told…

Pakistan court orders Musharraf’s arrest

A Pakistani court on Thursday ordered the arrest of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for sacking judges when in power in 2007, a spokesman for his party said. The retired general immediately left the court premises in Islamabad, driving away in a convoy escorted by his bodyguards to an unknown…

Psy’s ‘Gentleman’ video praised and banned

“Gangnam Style” star Psy was praised by South Korea’s president and slammed by its state broadcaster all on the same day Thursday, as his new song “Gentleman” made more than just musical waves. While President Park Geun-Hye cited Psy’s “exemplary” respect for copyright principles, KBS television banned the “Gentleman” music…

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