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Housing market continues upward trend despite dip in home sales

US pending home sales dipped in December as inventory remained tight, but the upward trend in the housing market continued, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. The NAR’s pending home sales index, an indicator of future sales, fell 4.3 percent to 101.7 in December, down from a 106.3 reading…

Porn pops up in Editor’s Picks section of Twitter’s new Vine video service

Twitter’s iPhone video-snippet sharing service Vine had concerns about porn exposed on Monday after adult content was bared briefly in an “Editor’s Picks” section. Twitter apologized for the mistake, blaming “human error” but providing little detail, and quickly removed the video. The globally popular one-to-many message sharing service last week…

State Department abandons effort to close down Guantanamo Bay

The State Department has shut down the office of its special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, a US official said Monday, in a sign of the fading hopes of shuttering the jail. Daniel Fried, the special envoy in charge of the dossier, will now move to coordinate the…

Murdoch apologizes for ‘grotesque’ Israel cartoon

Rupert Murdoch apologised on Monday for a “grotesque” cartoon carried in one of his British newspapers showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with Palestinian bodies. The acting editor of the Sunday Times newspaper, Martin Ivens, is due to meet with members of the Jewish community in Britain…

Guatemala ex-dictator to be tried for genocide

A judge in Guatemala on Monday ordered the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt for genocide in the killings of more than 1,750 indigenous people during his 1982-83 regime. The 86-year-old Rios Montt sat stoically as Judge Miguel Galvez ordered the opening of a trial “for the crimes of…

British lawmaker suggests high heels and mini skirts to blame for rape

Richard Graham: UK lawmaker's rape remarks draw condemnation (via The Christian Science Monitor) A British lawmaker’s suggestion that young women who wear high heels and short skirts put themselves at greater risk of rape has drawn widespread condemnation. “If you are blind drunk and wearing those clothes how able are…

Saudi authorities order shops to erect sex-segregation walls

Saudi authorities have ordered shops employing both men and women to build separation walls to enforce the strict segregation laws of the ultra-conservative kingdom, local press reported Monday. The order that was issued by labour minister Adel Faqih also had the stamp of Abdullatif al-Sheikh, the head of the Commission…

U.S. welcomes Japanese lifting restrictions on American beef

The United States on Monday welcomed news that Japan has eased restrictions on beef imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease, easing a decade-long row between the allies. US officials said that Japan — formerly the largest buyer of US beef — had agreed to allow the import of…

Lebanese Muslim authority issues fatwa against civil marriage moves

Lebanon’s top Sunni Muslim authority on Monday issued a fatwa against moves to legalise civil marriages inside the country, where couples of different faiths have to travel abroad to tie the knot. The religious edict came a day after President Michel Sleiman tweeted that he would remain steadfast in supporting…

Twitter: Government user data requests have risen 20 percent

Twitter said Monday that worldwide requests from governments about its users rose nearly 20 percent in second half of 2012 as it sought to raise awareness about “invasive” actions. The popular messaging platform said information requests in the July-December period numbered 1,009, up from 849 in the prior six months.…

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