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Hungary bars foreigners from buying farmland

Hungary has amended its constitution to bar foreigners from buying farmland, a move the government called “historic,” but one that could cause friction with the European Union. Foreigners are already blocked from buying farmland under a temporary measure that formed part of Hungary’s EU accession agreement in 2003. But that…

Mexico nominates NAFTA negotiator to lead World Trade Organization

Mexico has nominated a former minister who led the country’s negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to take over the helm of the World Trade Organization, the WTO said Saturday. Herminio Blanco Mendoza is a 62-year-old economist who served as Mexico’s chief NAFTA negotiator from 1990-93, and as…

Tajikistan orders Twitter ban

Tajikistan has ordered local Internet providers to block Twitter, one of more than 100 sites including popular Russian-language social networks starting next week, an industry representative told AFP Saturday. “The (government) communications service has sent Internet companies a huge list of 131 sites that must be blocked in the country…

New UN AIDS deputy hails Brazil progress

The newly appointed deputy chief of the United Nations HIV-fighting program, Brazilian Luiz Loures, hailed his own country’s achievements in the fight against the deadly global epidemic in an interview published Saturday. “We are beginning to talk of the end of the epidemic. Scientific progress makes it possible,” Loures told…

William and Kate snub queen for Middletons’ Christmas

Prince William and his pregnant wife Catherine will spend Christmas Day at her parents’ family house, instead of with Queen Elizabeth II, British royal officials said Saturday. The second-in-line to the throne and the former Kate Middleton will be at the Middleton residence in Bucklebury, a village west of London,…

Voters, but few tourists, around Egypt’s pyramids

As Egypt’s voters turned out on Saturday for a final round of a referendum on a divisive, Islamist-backed constitution, workers at Cairo’s pyramids located near some polling stations lamented the turmoil that has caused tourists to flee. “Currently there is no tourism in Egypt,” grumbled Adel Anwar, the 32-year-old owner…

Pope pardons butler, expels him from Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for leaking secret papal memos, but banished him from the Vatican. “This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to…

Hugh Grant wins ‘substantial’ phone-hacking damages from Murdoch tabloid

Hugh Grant has accepted a “substantial sum” from Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid publisher over phone hacking by the News of the World, the British actor’s lawyer said on Friday. The “Four Weddings and a Funeral” star will donate the damages to the Hacked Off campaign against press intrusion, solicitor Mark…

Drug war leaves 20,000 missing people in Mexico: report

More than 20,000 people have disappeared in Mexico over the past six years of a brutal crackdown on drugs during the government of former president Felipe Calderon, a civic group said. Propuesta Civica (Civic Proposal) released a database on its website Thursday listing 20,851 people who went missing from August…

Argentina disputes Britain renaming a part of Antarctica in honor of Queen Elizabeth II

Argentina summoned Britain’s ambassador Friday to complain about London’s decision to rename a disputed part of Antarctica in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. Buenos Aires expressed its “firm rejection” of Britain’s claim to the territory, which Argentina considers “an area in the Argentine Antarctic sector.” Foreign Minister William Hague last…

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