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Sharp rise in U.S. retail sales signal improving consumer optimism

US retail sales rose sharply in September, official data released Monday showed, suggesting improving consumer optimism heading into the year-end holiday shopping season. Retail and food services sales rose 1.1 percent from August, the Commerce Department said, well above the 0.7 percent increase forecast by most analysts. Excluding gasoline sales,…

Vietnam school children get day off as crocodiles escape from local farm

Primary schoolchildren in part of southern Vietnam were given a day off on Monday after a number of crocodiles escaped from a farm and were seen roaming around residential areas, reports said. The reptiles were prowling around densely-populated neighbourhoods after breaking free, according to Thanh Nien newspaper, which said the…

American scholars Roth, Shapley win Nobel Economics Prize for data-matching design

US scholars Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for research on how to match different agents as well as possible, the Nobel jury said. The two were honoured for “the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design,” it said. Their work…

Xbox Music: Microsoft launches challenger to Apple’s iTunes

Cloud-based offering will allow users to synchronize across multiple devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones Zune failed to take on the might of the iTunes music service, but now Microsoft is back for another bite at the cherry or, more accurately, the Apple. The software company has announced Xbox Music,…

South Korea lifts ban on French erotic novel by Marquis de Sade

South Korea has lifted a ban on the erotic novel “The 120 Days of Sodom” by the 18th-century French nobleman and writer the Marquis de Sade, just weeks after barring it for “extreme obscenity”. The Korea Publication Ethics Commission, a state review board, accepted an appeal by publishing house Dongsuh…

Ukrainian navy training dolphins for combat

The Ukrainian navy is reportedly training dolphins to be able to fight with guns or knives, and its not the first time a country has done this.…

Obama-Romney race remains nearly tied: poll

Three weeks before election day, the White House race between US president Barack Obama and his Republican foe Mitt Romney remains statistically tied, with Obama maintaining just a slight advantage, a new opinion poll found Monday. The latest ABC News/Washington Post survey showed that likely voters favoured Obama over Romney…

Austrian freefaller inspires awe in watching millions

The world looked on in fear and awe as Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of outer space on Sunday, breaking a slew of records and winning millions of instant fans. The video feed — broadcast on a 20-second delay intended to give news stations time to cut…

Madagascar lemurs top endangered primates list

In the hit cartoon film “Madagascar”, the island’s lemurs are a lovable bunch of extroverts, but they are also among the world’s most threatened primates, conservationists warned on Monday. A report released at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in the Indian city of Hyderabad said lemurs in Madagascar,…

Judge scraps Brazil’s Amazon dam hearing after fishermen and indigenous people failed to vacate the site

A federal judge has suspended a planned hearing for fishermen and indigenous people occupying a disputed dam in Brazil’s Amazon after they failed to vacate the site, developers said. Federal Judge Marcelo Honorato had summoned for a hearing on Monday representatives of both the Norte Energia consortium in charge of…

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