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Islamist insurgents torch library containing ancient Mali manuscripts

Fleeing Islamist insurgents burnt two buildings containing priceless books as French-led troops approached, says mayor Islamist insurgents retreating from the ancient Saharan city of Timbuktu have set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless ancient manuscripts, some dating back to the 13th century, in what the town’s mayor described as…

Low turnout means Bulgarian referendum on building second nuclear plant will likely fail

Low turnout appears to have scuppered a Bulgarian referendum on whether the former Communist nation should build a second nuclear power plant. Some 4.35 million people, about 60 percent of eligible voters, needed to cast ballots for the results to be binding. Although the central electoral committee is yet to…

Sixth New Delhi gang rape suspect to be tried as juvenile

A court on Monday ruled that the sixth suspect in last month’s deadly gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi would be tried as a juvenile, after rejecting calls for tests to determine his age. Ishkaran Bhandari, a lawyer for the teenager who cannot be named for…

Iran claims it sent a live monkey into space

Iran on Monday sent a capsule containing a live monkey into space and later retrieved the “shipment” intact, the Tehran-based Arab-language Al-Alam channel said, quoting an official statement. A previous attempt in 2011 by the Islamic republic to put a monkey into space failed. No official explanation was given. “Iran…

Report: Pentagon planning massive cybersecurity increase

The US Department of Defense has approved a fivefold expansion of its cybersecurity force over the coming years in a bid to increase its ability to defend critical computer networks, The Washington Post reported. Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the Defense Department’s Cyber Command, which currently has a…

Taiwanese billionaire launches Asian ‘Nobel prize’

One of Taiwan’s richest men on Monday launched what has been widely touted as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and it is even more lucrative than the famed Swedish award. Samuel Yin, head of the sprawling Ruentex business empire, said that by donating Tw$3 billion ($101 million) for…

South Korea’s pop artists eye life after Psy

Thanks to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” smash hit, the South Korean music industry’s long-held dream to make it big in Europe and the USA with its K-pop boy bands has taken a giant leap forward. But Psy’s international success looks unlikely to have a big knock-on effect in other Asian countries,…

French troops lead attack on fabled Timbuktu

French-led troops surrounded Mali’s fabled desert city of Timbuktu Monday after seizing its airport in a lightning advance against Islamists who have been driven from key northern strongholds. French paratroopers swooped in to block any fleeing Islamists while ground troops coming from the south seized the airport in the ancient…

Eurozone crisis ‘drying up credit to households’

Bank lending to private households in the euro area contracted again in December as the region’s crippling debt crisis continues to put a freeze on demand for credit, data showed on Monday. Eurozone bank loans to the private sector declined by 0.7 percent in December compared with the same month…

Brazil in mourning after deadly nightclub inferno

Brazilians on Monday were mourning the victims of a nightclub blaze in a small college town that left more than 230 people dead and over 100 injured, with many still fighting for their lives. Shocked survivors, mostly science students in Santa Maria, described how scores of revelers were trampled to…

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