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France plans to tackle car-torching New Year’s tradition

In France’s rundown suburbs, it has become as much of a New Year tradition as champagne and fireworks in more affluent neighbourhoods. Every year, the night of December 31-January 1 sees more than 1,000 cars set ablaze across the country in an orgy of vandalism to which the authorities have,…

Candidates from nine countries vie to head World Trade Organization

Nine countries have presented candidates to succeed Pascal Lamy as head of the World Trade Organisation ahead of the deadline Monday. The last candidate was Roberto Azevedo, Brazil’s envoy to the WTO, whose name was put forth on Friday. He has been with the world’s trade oversight body since 2008.…

Coptic Christian church attacked in Libya

Libya’s small Christian community was in shock on Monday after an attack on a Coptic church near the city of Misrata killed two Egyptians and fanned fears of rising extremism. “When we were praying we heard the explosion which struck a side room of the church used for services,” said…

Stocks drop as fiscal cliff deadline looms

US stocks opened lower on the last day of the year Monday as Washington politicians appeared still far from a deal hours before the deadline to avoid the economy-crunching fiscal cliff. Five minutes into trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 33.18 points (0.26 percent) at 12,904.93. The broad-market…

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West announce pregnancy

US reality television star Kim Kardashian is expecting a baby by her boyfriend, rapper Kanye West, the website E! News reported. No details were given, but the site said West announced the news during his Atlantic City show on Sunday night. West and Kardashian announced in March that they were…

Speeding passenger train kills five elephants in India

A speeding passenger train killed five elephants when it ploughed into a herd crossing the track in eastern India, a railway spokesman said Monday. The train struck the animals on Sunday near the Khallikote forest range in Orissa state’s Ganjam district, some 120 kilometres (74 miles) south of the state…

Indian gang-rape victim’s family wants killers executed

The family of a murdered Indian gang-rape victim will not rest until her killers are hanged, her brother said. “The fight has just begun. We want all the accused hanged, and we will fight for that, till the end,” the brother told the Indian Express. Six men are facing murder…

Cambodia battles to save rare Mekong dolphins

The sight of two dolphins twisting playfully in the murky waters of the Mekong river elicits barely stifled squeals of delight from a boatload of eco-tourists. But a short distance upstream, river guard Pech Sokhan sighs as he holds up two large, tangled gill nets recently pulled from the murky…

Human rights group: 30 tortured bodies found in Damascus

Thirty tortured and disfigured bodies have been found in the northern Damascus neighbourhood of Barzeh, the scene of regular clashes between regime troops and rebels, a watchdog said on Monday. “Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,”…

The world prepares to ring 2013 in with a bang

Sydney will Monday kick off a wave of dazzling firework displays welcoming in 2013 from Dubai to Paris and London, with long-isolated Yangon joining the global pyrotechnics for the first time. Australia’s famous harbour city will usher in the New Year with a Aus$6.6 (US$6.9) million display curated by pop…

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