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Germany set to approve fracking ‘with conditions’

The German government is prepared to give the go-ahead to the revolutionary oil and gas technique of “fracking” in Germany, but under certain conditions, according to a ministry paper obtained by AFP on Tuesday. Under a draft proposal by the economy and environment ministries, fracking would be banned in areas…

Bandmate: Russia could release jailed Pussy Riot members early

Freed Pussy Riot punk Yekaterina Samutsevich vowed to pursue every legal route to free her jailed bandmates, saying there was still a chance the Russian authorities could free the two women early. “The main task is to get Nadya and Masha out,” Samutsevich told AFP in an interview, using the…

Poor families beat eviction in Spain against all odds

The walls of the apartment are cracked and patched with damp, but the faded family photographs of Maria Luisa Brana, her husband and their four children, are still hanging. Eight months ago the five of them — all jobless, like millions in Spain’s recession — faced being thrown out for…

London police pressured women to retract rape claims

A Metropolitan Police sex crimes unit put pressure on women to retract allegations of rape, including against a man who went on to murder two children, the police watchdog said Tuesday. The Sapphire Unit in Southwark, south London, had a “standard operating procedure” in 2008 and 2009 of encouraging the…

World powers exchange offers with Iran in talks to end some trade sanctions

World powers and Iran on Tuesday exchanged offers in crunch talks in Kazakhstan aimed at breaking a decade of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear drive despite low expectations of any deal. The two-day meeting in the Kazakh city of Almaty comes as sanctions bite against the Islamic republic and Israel still…

Ex-pope will have ‘pontiff emeritus’ title: Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI will have the official title of “pontiff emeritus” after he resigns on Thursday — the first leader of the Catholic Church to do so since the Middle Ages, the Vatican said. Benedict can be addressed as “Your Holiness”, can continue wearing his white papal cassock and will…

Tech giant Qualcomm: ‘Augmented reality’ is more than just ‘digital gimmickry’

From human anatomy and Maxim cover-models to Sesame Street, tech giant says AR is more than a gimmick The problem with augmented reality is its perception as digital gimmickry: a technology in search of a useful application that’s often hijacked for novelty purposes. AR can make cartoon monsters jump out…

Survivors of first World Trade Center attack 20 years ago recall the day

NEW YORK —John Murphy was a Port Authority Police sergeant working in Jersey City on Feb. 26, 1993, when an officer at the World Trade Center PATH Station reported what he thought was a collapse in the complex beneath the North Tower. Murphy, who lives in Hillsdale, raced across the…

Obama nominees Hagel and Lew face key Senate votes Tuesday

New picks to lead the Pentagon and the US Treasury face key hurdles Tuesday in the Senate, as President Barack Obama fleshes out his second-term cabinet amid trying times for defense and finance. If they are confirmed as expected, as soon as this week, secretary of defense pick Chuck Hagel…

John Kerry hints at more aid for Syria rebels

More Western assistance for Syria’s rebels is in the works, according to Secretary of State John Kerry and the leaders he is meeting with at the outset of his nine-country trip through Europe and the Middle East. The crucial question for Syria’s opposition forces is whether that stepped-up aid…  …

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