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After Ryan respite, election campaign back in gutter

WATERLOO, Iowa — So much for the new, intellectual debate promised after the wonkish Paul Ryan joined the White House race. In a flurry of charge and counterpunch Tuesday, the battle for the US presidency erupted, reflecting the fast deepening antipathy between the incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican challenger…

India to launch Mars mission: PM

India plans to launch a space probe that will orbit Mars, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh confirmed on Wednesday after press reports that the mission was scheduled to begin late next year. The project would mark another step in the country’s ambitious space programme, which placed a probe on the moon…

Russia breaks up Pussy Riot protest outside church

MOSCOW — Russian security guards broke up a demonstration Wednesday in support of protest punk group Pussy Riot outside the Moscow cathedral where the women performed this year, activists said. The protesters, wearing the group’s trademark coloured balaclavas, were holding individual letters that spelled the phrase “Blessed are the merciful”…

Romney to Obama: take your ‘hate’ back home

Mitt Romney lashed Barack Obama as “angry and desperate” and told him to take his “hate” home to Chicago in an outburst which prompted the president’s camp to brand him “unhinged.” A sudden and bitter escalation to the White House race was triggered when Vice President Joe Biden said in…

Standard Chartered fined $340 million over Iran deals

Standard Chartered on Tuesday settled allegations that it helped Iranian clients dodge US sanctions, announcing a fine of $340 million from a New York banking watchdog. The “civil penalty” came amid allegations that the London-based bank hid 60,000 transactions with proscribed Iranian clients worth $250 billion over ten years. The…

Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom plans to launch music service

WELLINGTON — Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom has announced plans to launch a new online music venture this year as he prepares to fight a US attempt to extradite him from New Zealand to face online piracy charges. Dotcom’s original plans for the service, called Megabox, were disrupted in January when…

Accused Nazi war criminal free to stay in Australia

SYDNEY — A 90-year-old man accused of being a Nazi war criminal on Wednesday won his fight to stay in Australia, after the High Court blocked his extradition to Hungary. Charles Zentai was allegedly one of three Nazi-backed Hungarian soldiers who tortured and murdered a Jewish teenager in Budapest in…

Israel has not decided on Iran strike: U.S. defense chief

WASHINGTON — Israel has not yet decided whether to strike Iran over its suspect nuclear program, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, as Tehran dismissed the threat of an imminent attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in recent days had stiffened their rhetoric on Iran,…

Clinton considers blacklisting Pakistan-linked group

WASHINGTON — The US State Department on Tuesday voiced concern about the Pakistan-linked Haqqani network and said it was studying whether to designate the group as terrorists after strong appeals by Congress. President Barack Obama’s administration has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan rein in the militant group active in Afghanistan and…

U.S. urges Sudan to free Oregon-based activist

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday urged Sudan to free a US permanent resident who was taken back into custody moments after a judge freed him on charges related to helping anti-government protests. Rudwan Daud, a citizen of Sudan who lives in the western US state of Oregon with…

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