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Canada lawmakers ban masks at protests

OTTAWA — Parliament passed a ban on wearing masks at riots that punishes violations with up to 10 years behind bars in a bid to crack down on radical groups. The measure, adopted 153 to 126 on the Halloween holiday that sees revelers walk the streets in masks and costumed,…

Genomes project publishes inventory of human genetic variation

Scientists have published the full genetic sequences of more than 1,000 people from 14 countries, creating the most complete inventory of the millions of variations between people’s DNA sequences ever assembled. The resource built by the 1,000 Genomes Project will shed light on the genetic roots of complex diseases and…

U.S. warns Israel against preemptive strike on Iran

US military commanders have warned their Israeli counterparts that any action against Iran would severely limit the ability of American forces in the region to mount their own operations against the Iranian nuclear programme by cutting off vital logistical support from Gulf Arab allies. US naval, air and ground forces…

Sandy puts climate change back on the election agenda

The images of a paralysed New York City at the mercy of Hurricane Sandy’s wall of water have forced climate change on to the political agenda in the final week of the 2012 presidential election campaign. Campaigners said the devastating storm could turn out to be the October Surprise of…

Chinese heroin demand doubles poppy cultivation in Southeast Asia

Opium cultivation in Southeast Asia has doubled over the last six years as growing demand for heroin in China and the rest of Asia lures more farmers to grow poppies, the UN said Wednesday. Opiate users in East Asia and the Pacific now account for about a quarter of the…

Existing divides in New York City highlighted by Hurricane Sandy

It is a tale of two cities. In one there is light, restaurants are open and the elevators work. In the other there is darkness, hardly any water and not even a one dollar slice of pizza. This is the divide in Manhattan left by superstorm Sandy. The have-nots are…

Japan sees record low number of sumo wrestler applicants after hazing, drug and betting scandals

Japan’s tradition-steeped sport of sumo was wringing its collective hands on Wednesday after receiving a record-low number of applications from would-be wrestlers. Just one youngster put his name forward before the season-ending tournament in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, with one established wrestler saying he understood why so few people wanted to…

Pacific sharks see mass decline despite fishing, finning limits over soup demand

Pacific stocks of the oceanic whitetip shark, a favourite of fin soup enthusiasts, sank by as much as 17 percent a year between 1995 and 2010 despite catch and finning limits, a study said Wednesday. And the north Pacific blue shark, also sought after by Asian chefs, showed a worrying…

Napoleon’s written promise to ‘blow up the Kremlin’ up for auction in France

A coded letter in which Napoleon Bonaparte vows to blow up the Kremlin goes under the hammer near Paris in December, 200 years after the French invasion of Russia. “I will blow up the Kremlin on the 22nd at three am,” reads the missive written in numbers and signed “Nap”,…

Sistine Chapel may limit visitors to prevent further fresco damage

As the Sistine Chapel celebrates its 500th anniversary, the Vatican has said it may have to limit the huge numbers of visitors because pollution is damaging Michelangelo’s frescoes. The scenes, including the moment in which God gives life to Adam with the touch of his finger, are being damaged by…

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