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‘Ping pong diplomacy’ hero dies at 73

Zhuang Zedong, a triple world champion table tennis star who played a crucial role in thawing relations between China and the USA has died at the age of 73, the Chinese press reported on Sunday. His gift of a painting of the Huangshang Mountains to American player Glen Cowan in…

Obama to Israel: why now?

He’s hardly best buddies with Benjamin Netanyahu and his drive for a Palestinian state is comatose, so why did Barack Obama pick Israel to fire up his legacy-boosting second term diplomacy? The US president sprung a surprise last week by announcing he would pick the turmoil-laced Middle East for the…

Falling lifeboat kills Thomson cruise ship crew in Canary Islands

Five die and three injured in incident during emergency drill on Thomson Majesty moored at Santa Cruz on island of La Palma Five people have died on a cruise ship operated by the holiday firm Thomson after a lifeboat fell from the vessel during an emergency drill at La Palma…

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates endorses ‘drone courts’

Former US defense secretary Robert Gates on Sunday endorsed the idea of having a special court review drone strikes as a check against a president’s power to, in effect, execute Americans. The issue came to the fore last week during a Senate hearing to confirm John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s…

Raucous celebrations as Asia greets Year of Snake

A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks, after a Chinese televised gala featuring stars including Celine Dion kicked off a week of festivities. From Australia to South Korea, millions of people travelled huge distances to reunite with their families for Lunar New…

Ahmadinejad: US must change before direct talks

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday said the United States must change its attitude if it wants to hold direct nuclear talks with Iran, as he hit out at Washington for imposing sanctions on Tehran. His comments, in a speech marking the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that ousted the…

Politics of Christie’s weight likely to dog him in potential 2016 presidential campaign

Politics of Christie's weight likely to dog him in potential 2016 presidential campaign   TRENTON — In the week Hurricane Sandy hit, Gov. Chris Christie maintained a breakneck schedule of 11 news conferences, visits to 10 towns and at least seven national interviews — all on just hours of sleep.…

Tens of millions of Indians bathe at Ganges festival

Tens of millions of Hindus gathered for a holy bath in India’s sacred river Ganges on the most auspicious day of the world’s largest religious festival. Ash-smeared naked saints led the ritual bathing before dawn — which is said to cleanse pilgrims of their sins — with millions following them…

Jane Goodall on climate change: ‘We’ve just been stealing, stealing, stealing from our children, and it’s shocking’

Jane Goodall greets the audience by imitating a chimpanzee, then launches into an hour-long talk on her relationship with apes and how, from being a primatologist, she became an activist to protect them. At 78, Goodall, who has 53 years of studying chimps behind her, is still criss-crossing the planet…

Gingrich warns GOP: Don’t appear to ‘ignore people’ in immigration debate

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) delivered a warning to his Republican party mates in a letter to his supporters, urging them to come around when it came to immigration reform as part of its rebuilding process. “A party that appears to ignore people won’t get the chance to make…

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