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Global food prices rise sharply in July: UN

Global food prices rose six percent in July after dropping for three months, largely because of a hike in the price of grains and sugar, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said Thursday. The FAO’s Food Price Index, a monthly measure of changes in a basket of food commodities, was…

Olympics closing ceremony ‘camp and cheesy,’ says music director

The London Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday will be a “beautiful, cheeky, cheesy, camp, silly and thrilling” journey through British pop history, its musical director promised. David Arnold, composer of five James Bond scores, told the Daily Telegraph that predictions Paul McCartney and Adele would perform were “scarily accurate”, but…

Treasury Dept. confirms Standard Chartered Bank probe, defends Iran sanctions

The US Treasury on Wednesday confirmed a probe into Standard Chartered and defended its Iran sanctions regime following the New York regulator’s damaging accusations against the British bank. Adam Szubin, director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, told a British counterpart in a letter that his office…

Vietnam, U.S. begin historic Agent Orange cleanup

From deformed infants to grandparents with cancer, families near Vietnam’s Danang Airbase have long blamed the toxic legacy of war for their ills. Now after a decades-long wait, a historic “Agent Orange” clean-up is finally beginning. The base was a key site in the US defoliant program during the Vietnam…

Curiosity’s second day on Mars ‘flawless’: NASA

NASA rover Curiosity’s second day on Mars went “flawlessly,” NASA said, confirming the antennas, communication links and generator on the $2.5 billion robot are all working well. “We feel very confident we have a lot of data capacity now, that we have all these links, and that was one of…

Scandal-hit News Corp posts big loss

Rupert Murdoch’s embattled media giant News Corp posted a net loss of $1.51 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter Wednesday, as the firm prepared for a major restructuring. The company’s bottom line was hit by a $2.85 billion charge apparently related to a plan to split its entertainment division from…

Threatened shark species turning up in U.S. restaurants

WASHINGTON — Threatened shark species are being used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, in several US cities, according to an unprecedented study based on DNA testing. Thirty-three different species of sharks turned up in samples collected in 14 cities and analyzed at Stony Brook University’s…

Most young adults expect marriage for life: study

WASHINGTON — Eighty-six percent of young adults in the United States expect their marriages to last a lifetime, even though half of all marriages end in divorce, a study released Wednesday suggests. The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults also found that 57 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29…

17-year-old boy crowned America’s fastest texter

NEW YORK — A 17-year-old boy retained his title as America’s fastest texter Wednesday in a duel of the thumbs staged before yelling fans in New York’s Times Square. Austin Weirschke took home $50,000 in prize money for the second time in two years when he bested 10 other texting…

Fourteen killed across bloodstained Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Three brutal killings on Wednesday claimed at least 14 lives across Mexico, in the latest bloodshed of a years-long crime wave fueled by warring drug cartels. Just outside Mexico City, armed gunmen burst into a bar in the early morning hours and opened fire on the crowd,…

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