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Japan backs off promise to end nuclear energy by 2040

Japan has effectively abandoned a commitment to end its reliance on nuclear power by 2040 amid pressure from the country’s business lobby, dropping a deadline recommended by a cabinet panel only days ago. The cabinet on Tuesday gave only a vague endorsement of the panel’s report, released last Friday, and dropped any mention of…

Historic wins on same sex marriage ballot initiatives are within reach

The 2008 election was a great day for those of the liberal persuasion.Barack Obama won the White House. Democrats picked up eight seats in the Senate and 21 seats in the House on their way to large majorities in each. The passage of Proposition 8 in California (rolling back same-sex marriage rights), however, was the…

Space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ on final flight to museum

US space shuttle Endeavour departed Wednesday morning on its final voyage, heading cross-country from Florida to California, riding piggyback on a specially fitted Boeing 747. The shuttle took off several minutes behind the scheduled 7:15 am (1115 GMT) departure. The transfer had previously been postponed twice because of bad weather.…

Cyberattacks originating from China hit Japan in island controversy: police

At least 19 Japanese websites, including those of a government ministry, courts and a hospital, have come under cyberattack, apparently from China, police said Wednesday. Many of the websites were altered to show messages proclaiming Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands, a Japanese-administered chain Tokyo calls Senkaku, the National Police…

Georgia minister quits over jail rape scandal

Georgia’s prisons minister resigned Wednesday over videos showing the alleged beating and rape of convicts that caused outrage ahead of bitterly-contested elections in the ex-Soviet state. Some of the graphic video footage, aired late Tuesday by opposition television station TV9, showed a weeping half-naked male prisoner at a jail in…

Rove group American Crossroads makes $10 million ad buys for Romney

A group that supports Republican candidate Mitt Romney launched a $10-million series of advertisements Tuesday, mainly in battleground states, knocking President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. American Crossroads, a non-profit group known as a superPAC, made an $8.3-million buy for ads that feature small business owners blasting Obama’s “bad decisions”…

Human Rights Watch seeks release of ‘runaway’ Afghan women

A US-based human rights group on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of Afghan women imprisoned for running away from home, welcoming promises from government officials to stop the detentions. Up to 70 percent of the estimated 700 women and girls detained in Afghan prisons are being held for running away,…

Russia expels USAID for ‘influencing politics’

Russia on Wednesday said it had ordered a halt to the work of USAID because the agency was seeking to influence domestic politics, adding that the organisation had until October 1 to halt activities. “The decision was taken mainly because the work of the agency’s officials far from always responded…

Massive worldwide slaughter of farm animals set to push food prices up 14 percent

Farmers who cannot afford feed ‘liquidating’ pig and cattle herds will drive food inflation to record high, says Rabobank report The mass slaughter of millions of farm animals across the world is expected to push food prices to their highest ever levels. As well as hitting consumers’ pockets, the predicted…

Scientists use $40 million camera to search for ‘dark energy’

Dark energy: Can $40m camera help solve its mystery? (+video) Using a cosmic looking glass that would dazzle Sherlock Holmes, an international team of astronomers has taken the first major step in a five-year observing project to help crack a case you could call The Sign of Dark Energy. The…

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