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Peaceful rally in Azerbaijan broken up brutally by police

Azerbaijan police on Saturday brutally dispersed an unauthorised rally in central Baku, beating up and arresting scores of people, an AFP correspondent witnessed. Several dozen protesters briefly gathered in Baku’s central Sahil square to protest against the police using excessive force against peaceful protests. But police halted the rally within…

Namibia offers model for taking on poachers

Faced with poachers who are ravaging elephant and rhino populations, African nations could do worse than look to Namibia for a game plan to combat the scourge. Wildlife poaching is on the rise across Africa’s vast savannahs and in the jungles and outmanned and outgunned governments have struggled to keep…

Thousands hit the road as annual Chinese migration begins

The world’s largest annual migration began Saturday in China with tens of thousands in the capital boarding trains to journey home for next month’s Lunar New Year celebrations. Passengers will log 220 million train rides during the 40-day travel season, the Ministry of Railways estimates, as they criss-cross the country…

Rabbi tells Israeli TV: ‘not the slightest anti-Israel hint’ from Hagel

An Israeli-born rabbi who claims to know Chuck Hagel well said in an interview aired Saturday that he has never heard any anti-Israeli sentiment from the nominee for US defence secretary, despite accusations to the contrary. “I have not heard the slightest anti-Israel hint or, as has been said in…

Kenyan election bloggers become cyber-activism pioneers

Five years ago, a handful of bloggers invented a way to track — and hopefully prevent — bloody post-election violence that hit Kenya and claimed more than 1,100 lives. The group of friends that set up Ushahidi — which means “to witness” in Kenya’s Swahili language — have seen their…

Russia’s unlikely World Cup host awaits the spotlight

Saransk, the capital of Russia’s republic of Mordovia, is not a place that yet trips off the tongue of football fans but says it is ready for the global spotlight when it hosts the World Cup in 2018. The city of 300,000 situated in the Volga river basin was world…

Report: China puts two Tibetan self-immolation ‘inciters’ on trial

Two Tibetans in southwest China stood trial for murder on Saturday for allegedly inciting others to self-immolate, state media said, as authorities aim to crack down on this form of protest. Lorang Konchok, 40, and his nephew Lorang Tsering, 31, “were accused of intentional homicide” for urging eight people to…

Latin American and European leaders kick off trade summit

European leaders kicked off a two-day summit with their Latin American counterparts here Saturday seeking closer trade ties but also assurances on free trade and investment protection. The summit opened with children’s songs and welcome messages from ordinary Latin American citizens. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, the summit host, then formally…

NATO deploys Patriot as warplanes hit Syria capital

NATO declared that a Patriot missile battery went operational on Turkey’s border with Syria on Saturday, as a watchdog reported regime warplanes launched raids on a Damascus district. Britain, meanwhile, pledged a multi-million dollar aid package to help Syrian civilians, nearly half of which would be channelled through agencies in…

‘Under-represented’ women seek Davos equality

One of the most noticeable aspects of the World Economic Forum in Davos, a gathering of the world’s top CEOs, politicians and officials, is the male dominance on the various panels. Of the 2,500 movers and shakers who have descended on the picture-postcard Swiss ski resort, a mere 17 percent…

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