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Dinosaur ‘thief’ pleads guilty to smuggling

A man accused of smuggling 70-million-year-old dinosaur skeletons, including a Tyrannosaur, into the United States pleaded guilty in court Thursday. Eric Prokopi, 38, who is to be sentenced on April 25, faces up to 17 years in jail and a $250,000 fine on charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal goods,…

U.S. General ‘Stormin Norman’ Schwarzkopf dead at 78

Norman Schwarzkopf, the US general who led 1991 Operation Desert Storm, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has died at the age of 78, a US official said Thursday. Schwarzkopf, an American hero known popularly as “Stormin Norman,” died in Tampa, where he retired after his last military…

Obama calls leaders for Friday talks in effort to reach fiscal cliff breakthrough

Barack Obama will meet congressional leaders on Friday as members of the House of Representatives prepare to return to Washington for a last-ditch attempt to head off the year-end fiscal cliff budget crisis. Republican speaker John Boehner said the House will reconvene on Sunday evening, with less than 30 hours…

U.S. drone strikes intensify in Yemen

US drone strikes against Islamist militants decreased in Pakistan’s tribal regions for the second year in a row but intensified in Yemen, according to figures compiled by a Washington think tank. In Pakistan, 46 strikes were carried out in 2012, compared to 72 in 2011 and 122 in 2010, the…

World’s smelliest and largest flower blooms in Brazil

Hundreds of visitors are flocking daily to a botanical garden in southeastern Brazil to watch the rare blooming of the Titan arum, the world’s smelliest and largest tropical flower. Also known as the “corpse flower” because of a smell likened to rotting flesh, it began blooming on Christmas Day and…

Putin vows to sign contentious U.S. adoption ban

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin vowed on Thursday to sign a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children that has added new strains to the uneasy relations between the former Cold War foes An aide separately raised the spectre of the Kremlin eliminating all foreign adoptions as part of a patriotic…

Human Rights Watch: Kuwait using ‘excessive force’ against protesters

Human Rights Watch on Thursday accused Kuwaiti police of using “excessive force” against opposition protesters and called on the Gulf state’s rulers to respect the right to peaceful assembly. The New York-based group said riot police had on several occasions used “what appears to be excessive force to disperse largely…

Travel chaos as deadly winter storm hits northeast U.S.

Heavy snow and strong winds battered the northeastern United States Thursday, intensifying post-Christmas travel woes, after violent weather left at least nine people dead and many without power. More than 2,750 flights have been cancelled since Tuesday as the huge storm wreaked havoc from the Gulf of Mexico to the…

Clinton still recuperating from illness at home, says aide

Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who fell ill in early December and hasn’t been seen in public since, continues to rest at home, her closest aide said Thursday. “She’s recuperating at home,” was all Philippe Reines wrote in email to AFP when asked about the health of Washington’s…

What is the fiscal cliff? Facts on the looming U.S. budget changes

The “fiscal cliff” is a combination of dramatic spending cuts and tax increases mandated to take effect beginning in January if President Barack Obama and Republicans cannot bridge their differences on how best to reduce the nation’s budget deficit and debt. To add to a drama that could reverse the…

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