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Australia slams ‘sick joke’ cigarette packs

Australia slammed as a “sick joke” Wednesday new cigarette packs on sale as part of the national phase-in to plain packaging which play on drab branding and claim it’s “what’s on the inside that counts.” Tobacco products in Australia will have to be sold in drab, uniform khaki packaging with…

Study: Asthma patients may not need daily steroids

Asthma patients may not need daily doses of inhaled steroids according to a study out Tuesday, a finding that could alter treatment for millions suffering from the respiratory ailment. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that people who use corticosteroids every day to control mild…

Japanese robot being groomed to take Tokyo U. entrance exams

Japanese researchers are working on a robot they hope will be smart enough to ace entrance exams at the nation’s top university, which test everything from maths to foreign languages. The robot’s artificial brain would analyse a mash of words, numbers, and equations before spitting out the — hopefully —…

Syrian army battles rebels near Aleppo airport

Syrian troops and rebels clashed near Aleppo’s international airport on Wednesday, a watchdog said, but it was unclear whether it was part of a rebel offensive to seize the facility. The fighting erupted at dawn in the Nayrab area, around five kilometers (three miles) from the northern city’s airport, which…

Hundreds of workers blockade S. African platinum mines

Hundreds of people barricaded roads leading to a mine of the world’s top platinum producer Anglo American as labour unrest spread in South Africa’s key industry, police said. “There is a strike, mine workers are gathering,” police spokesman Thulani Ngubane told AFP. “They are rioting, barricading the roads with tyres,…

Cambodian journalist found murdered in his car

A Cambodian journalist who reported on rampant illegal logging in the country has been found murdered in the boot of his car, police said. Hang Serei Oudom, a reporter at local-language Vorakchun Khmer Daily, was discovered on Tuesday, said senior police officer Song Bunthanorm. The vehicle was abandoned in a…

White House: Obama and Netanyahu are ‘united’ on Iran

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone late Tuesday, and are “united” in efforts to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, the White House said. After saying earlier that Obama and Netanyahu could not meet in New York later this month due to…

All eyes are on Apple as iPhone 5 debuts

The stage is set for Apple to unveil a new-generation iPhone on Wednesday as the culture-changing company once again lays claim to the heart of the Internet age lifestyle. The star of the Apple event in the Yerba Buena Theater in San Francisco is expected to be an “iPhone 5″…

U.S. urges ‘cooler heads’ between Japan, China

WASHINGTON — The United States called for calm between Japan and China after Beijing sent ships to disputed islands in the East China Sea in response to Tokyo’s purchase of them. “We think, in the current environment, we want cooler heads to prevail, frankly,” Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of…

New nano-code ups the fight against counterfeiters

PARIS — Scientists on Wednesday reported they had invented an invisible tag using the widely-used “quick response” code to help thwart banknote forgers and criminals who sell bogus drugs or fake vintage wine. The QR code is a square of black and white pixels that can be scanned by a…

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