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Europe readies for solar storm risks

Europe launched its first space weather coordination centre Wednesday to raise the alarm for possible satellite-sizzling solar storms that also threaten astronauts in orbit, plane passengers and electricity grids on Earth. Though impossible to predict, a worst-case scenario mega-storm can happen at any time, leaving the world without Internet, telephones,…

Pussy Riot member could be transferred after court ruling

The prison camp where Pussy Riot punk Maria Alyokhina is being held broke the law by keeping her in isolation for too long, prosecutors said Wednesday, raising the possibility she could be transferred to another prison. Alyokhina, 24, is serving a two-year sentence in Corrective Labour Camp No.28 in the…

China reports another bird flu death

A man in the Chinese province of Zhejiang has died of the H7N9 strain of bird flu, state media said Wednesday, bringing the total deaths attributed to the virus to three since the first human cases. He was one of two H7N9 avian influenza infections reported in Zhejiang in eastern…

Pope: Women have a ‘special role’ in the Church

Pope Francis on Wednesday underlined the role played by women in the Roman Catholic Church, saying they had been more willing to believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection than his own disciples. “Women play a primary, fundamental role in the Bible,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims at an audience in…

Scottish novelist Iain Banks has late-stage gall bladder cancer

Scottish author Iain Banks revealed on Wednesday he has late-stage cancer and is unlikely to survive beyond a year. The 59-year-old, who has written more than two dozen science fiction and mainstream novels, said a CT scan at the beginning of March had revealed “the full extent of the grisly…

World War II bomb found near Berlin’s main train station

An unexploded World War II bomb has been unearthed near Berlin’s main train station, risking possible disruptions to rail and road traffic, authorities said Wednesday “The bomb was found yesterday afternoon on property belonging to the rail company,” a police spokesman told AFP, adding that the 100-kilogramme (220-pound) explosive was…

Russia sets April 17 trial date for opposition leader

Alexei Navalny, a leading opponent of President Vladimir Putin, will go on trial in mid-April on embezzlement charges, a Russian court said Wednesday, in a case supporters claim is politically motivated. The case against Navalny, one of the most charismatic figures in the opposition movement against Putin, concerns a probe…

Report: Austerity cuts led to decrease in aid to developing nations

Rich countries applying budget austerity cut their aid to developing countries by 4.0 percent last year, the OECD said on Wednesday, with the poorest countries taking the brunt of the cutbacks. Development aid from the OECD’s 34 member countries has dropped 6.0 percent in real terms since reaching a peak…

Morsi’s office denies filing complaint against ‘Egyptian Jon Stewart’

President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday stressed Egypt’s commitment to freedom of expression, insisting his office was not behind a probe against a popular satirist that has raised international concerns. “The presidency reiterates the importance of freedom of expression and fully respects press freedom,” Morsi’s office said in a statement. It…

Australia braces for ‘uncomfortable truths’ in national child sex abuse inquiry

Australia opened a national probe into child sex abuse on Wednesday, with premier Julia Gillard warning of “uncomfortable truths” as institutions including schools and churches come under scrutiny. Gillard ordered the inquiry in November after a decade of growing pressure to investigate widespread allegations of paedophilia, two months after the…

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