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Russia considers smoking ban

In a familiar scene of Russian daily life, Ivan Alexandrov smoked a cigarette outside a Moscow metro station as other commuters stepped out of the heavy doors and immediately lit up. But under a draft law already passed by parliament banning smoking in public places, from next year such scenes…

Experts urge U.S. to crack down on fake or diluted medications

Health experts are urging the United States and other countries to boost their ability to identify fake or subpar medicines and close loopholes that allow products to be falsified or diluted. In an international system in which different companies in many countries make ingredients for single treatments, no country alone…

Nugent tells Voice of America reporter: ‘I’m the f—ing voice of America!’

As promised, rocker and gun enthusiast Ted Nugent was on his best behavior at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, but he let loose with some colorful criticism afterward. It was bizarre enough seeing the provocative Nugent — who made comments against the president last year…

Thompson Reuters plans to cut 2,500 jobs

Global media group Thomson Reuters said on Wednesday that it would cut 2,500 jobs in its financial products division by the end of the year as part of a cost-cutting drive. Chief executive James Smith announced the cuts as he released the company’s quarterly and annual financial results, saying the…

Swedish golfer stabs self with golf tee to extract dangerous spider venom

A quick-thinking Swedish golfer has told how she used a tee to extract venom from her leg after being bitten by a dangerous spider during a qualifying tournament in Australia. The Swedish Golf Federation reported on their website how 24-year-old Daniela Holmqvist saw a redback spider on her lower leg…

Unsold Valentine’s Day gifts rot in war-torn Damascus

Red roses, tulips, heart-shaped toys and teddy bears cram the stands of Rawda Flowers in an upscale district of Damascus, but with war raging few people have indulged in gifts for Valentine’s Day. “My business is almost dead. Most of my old clients, who once came to buy bouquets for…

Egyptian protesters slam new law that requests demonstration plans be submitted in advance

Egypt’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a new draft law regulating public demonstrations that was swiftly slammed by rights groups as restrictive. The law, which needs the ratification of the upper house of parliament, was created “to ensure the peaceful nature of demonstrations,” Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki told reporters. The law…

Brazil rejects Apple’s application for iPhone trademark

Regulators in Brazil on Wednesday rejected Apple’s application to register its iPhone trademark in the country, having already recognized a local manufacturer’s claim to the name. The Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) “denied Apple registration of the iPhone trademark,” the institute’s press office told AFP. The decision was officially published…

Angered Saudi matchmakers call online dating sites ‘organized prostitution’

In ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are strictly segregated, traditional matchmakers face tough competition from blossoming marriage services on online social networks. More than 200 Twitter accounts and dozens of other forums on the Internet offer services for Saudi men and women seeking spouses, angering matchmakers like Um Sami…

Israeli West Bank settlers increase by 4.7 percent in 2012

The number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank grew by 4.7% in 2012, according to figures obtained by AFP Wednesday from a settler organisation. The settler population stood at 360,000 at beginning of January 2013 compared to 343,000 in January 2012, according to the Yesha Council, the largest…

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