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Ecuador to respond to Assange plea this week

QUITO — Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has said he expects to respond to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s application for political asylum some time this week. “Hopefully this week we will be able to make a statement on the matter,” the leftist leader said in an interview with public broadcaster ECTV…

U.N. humanitarian chief in Syria to discuss crisis

United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Syria Tuesday to address the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the conflict-ravaged country and discuss ways of scaling-up relief efforts. She will meet government officials and humanitarian partners including the local Red Crescent as well as families affected by the conflict, at the…

Iran confident Israel won’t launch ‘stupid’ attack

Iran on Tuesday said it is dismissing Israeli threats of an imminent attack against it, explaining that even some Israeli officials realized such a “stupid” act would provoke “very severe consequences.” “In our calculations, we aren’t taking these claims very seriously because we see them as hollow and baseless,” foreign…

Malaysian bloggers and politicians team up for ‘Internet blackout’

Malaysian NGOs, well-known bloggers and opposition politicians on Tuesday staged a one-day “Internet blackout” to protest a legal amendment that they say threatens free expression on the Web. Participants replaced their home pages with black screens featuring messages attacking the new section of the Evidence Act, which went into effect…

Google social network adding verified accounts

Google announced that it will let users of its online social network have verified accounts with names or brands in a manner similar to that offered at Facebook and Twitter. Custom Google+ page addresses were rolled out to a limited number of profiles including the footballer David Beckham, actor Hugh…

News Corp launches Spanish-language network in U.S.

The new Spanish-language broadcast network MundoFox – a joint venture of News Corp and RCN Television Group of Colombia – began broadcasting Monday with the goal of reaching the growing U.S. Hispanic market. The company, which says its programming is aimed at providing “Latino entertainment” with an “American attitude,” will…

Study casts doubt on human-Neanderthal interbreeding theory

When scientists discovered a few years ago that modern humans shared swaths of DNA with long-extinct Neanderthals, their best explanation was that at some point the two species must have interbred. Now a study by scientists at the University of Cambridge has questioned this conclusion, hypothesising instead that the DNA…

Obama to NASA experts: ‘Let me know if you find Martians’

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — US President Barack Obama on Monday ribbed scientists behind NASA’s roving robot Curiosity, instructing them to let him know right away if they found life on Mars. “If in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away,” Obama joked, as…

Anti-abortion bus to target Obama in key states

WASHINGTON — An anti-abortion group plans to launch a bus tour next week through five key states in this year’s White House race to highlight President Barack Obama’s “extreme” record on the polarizing issue. The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) on August 20 will embark on a tour of…

Palestinian inmate becomes a father after smuggling sperm to wife

NABLUS, Palestinian Territories — A baby boy was born by Caesarian section on Monday, the product of a successful smuggling attempt by a Palestinian prisoner who managed to sneak out a sperm sample to his wife. Baby Muhannad was born in a Nablus hospital to Dallal Ziben, a 32-year-old mother-of-two…

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