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Russia’s 2012 oil output hits post-Soviet high

World energy power Russia said on Wednesday that its 2012 oil output hit a post-Soviet record high level while natural gas production declined amid stalling European sales. The energy ministry’s reporting unit said oil and gas condensate production grew by 1.3 percent last year to reach 518.0 million tonnes (10.4…

Myanmar prison art tells story of repression

Painted on scraps of clothing with carved soap, cigarette lighters and even syringes, Htein Lin’s artworks were his lifeline during years in Myanmar jails — and the spark for an extraordinary love story. “These paintings were really dangerous and also precious,” said the 46-year-old former student protest leader, who produced…

Netanyahu list losing ground to right-wing ‘Jewish Home’ ahead of January 22 election

The joint list being fielded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this month’s snap elections is continuing to lose ground to the Jewish Home faction, a new poll showed on Wednesday. The survey, published in the daily Haaretz, still puts the list combining Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Israel…

‘Toxic combination of extremism and hyper-partisanship’ makes 112th Congress ‘the least productive in history’: Rep. Louise Slaughter

US lawmakers gave themselves a New Year’s resolution of sorts late Tuesday, but it was nearly a lump of coal: a “fiscal cliff” bill that few like, and which highlights the dysfunction gripping Washington. Lawmakers’ inability to meet their own self-imposed year-end deadline or address the crucial element of the…

Study: Antidepressants don’t raise pregnancy risks

The use of antidepressants during pregnancy is not linked to a higher overall risk of stillbirth and death in newborns, a study said Tuesday, confounding a long-held opposing view of such drugs. The Swedish study of more than 1.6 million births in five Nordic countries included nearly 30,000 women who…

Shy NY heiress left millions to library, parks

A shy New York woman whom no one took to be wealthy left a shockingly happy surprise when she died: $20 million in donations to the city’s libraries and main park. Mary McConnell Bailey lived modestly and volunteered at a hospital and schools, before dying at 88 last year, the…

End of the road is a beginning for new same-sex newlyweds

The Black Walnut Point Inn is literally at the end of the road in this Chesapeake Bay village, but for seven gay and lesbian couples Tuesday, it was the starting point for a new chapter in their lives together. Same-sex marriage came into force in Maryland on New Year’s Day,…

Singapore arrests Indian boy over Facebook bomb threat

Singapore police on Tuesday arrested a 13-year-old Indian boy for posting a Facebook message in which he allegedly threatened to bomb a luxury casino resort in the city-state. The unnamed boy vowed to take “a big big revenge”, “spit everywhere” and “plant bombs on Marina Bay Sands”, a major tourist…

Record 40,000 people jump into North Sea for annual Dutch New Year’s dive

A record 40,000 people braved icy temperatures on the Netherlands’s North Sea coast Tuesday to take a cold plunge, setting a new record for the traditional New Year’s Day dip, organisers said. “There were around 10,000 swimmers in Scheveningen and a record number of 40,000 across the Netherlands,” spokeswoman Jiske…

British man killed in New Year’s gang shoot-out at Thai resort

A 22-year-old British tourist was shot dead as he danced at a New Year party on one of Thailand’s most famous islands after a fight between rival Thai gangs erupted on the beach, police said on Tuesday. Stephen Ashton was killed when a Thai man opened fire at a bar…

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