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U.S. begins talks on long-term troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014

Robert Bales shooting trial puts thorny issue of US troop immunity centre stage, with Hamid Karzai hoping to wring tough concessions Afghanistan and the US have opened talks to keep American troops in the country after most Nato forces go home in 2014, but the thorny question of immunity for American…

Charlie Chaplin hat and cane net more than $62,000 in auction

Charlie Chaplin’s iconic bowler hat and cane were auctioned off for $62,500 this weekend, as part of an auction which also includes a John Lennon nude drawing of himself and Yoko Ono. The hat and cane, trademark of Chaplin’s Little Tramp character, were in “remarkable condition” and had been estimated…

Indians arrested for Facebook post on Mumbai shutdown

Indian police said Monday they had arrested a woman for criticising on Facebook the total shutdown of Mumbai after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, as well as a friend who “liked” the comment. The pair were due to appear in court later in the day charged under the Indian…

Armchair skippers take to virtual round-the-world race

Navigating stormy seas by day and night, hundreds of thousands of virtual skippers are sailing the Vendee Globe while safe and dry at home thanks to an online version of the round-the-world yacht race. “Virtual Regatta” has signed up some 300,000 players from around the world since the 20 real-life…

Space station crew returns to Earth in Russian capsule

Three astronauts touched down early Monday on the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz capsule after spending over four months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Russia’s Yuri Malenchenko, Sunita Williams of the US and Akihiko Hoshide of Japan touched down as scheduled just before 0200 GMT, the…

Chinese activists dead in custody: rights groups

At least two activists died in custody before or during China’s Communist Party congress and tens of thousands had their movements restricted, rights groups said Monday. The action was part of the government’s “maintenance stability” campaign aimed at preventing any sign of unrest during the party gathering in Beijing, which…

Santas warm up for Christmas in Sweden’s far north

Christmas cheer came early to Sweden’s Arctic mining town of Gaellivare this weekend, where Santas from around the world gathered to compete in one of the world’s most important but little known sporting events, the Santa Winter Games. “We’re getting into shape before delivering all the Christmas presents and we…

Israeli army takes over Hamas TV broadcasts

The Israeli army on Monday took over programming at a Gaza-based Hamas television station “to broadcast warnings,” as deadly violence between the sides entered its sixth day. Al-Aqsa television, the official station of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, said in a statement the Israeli army “is interfering with Al-Aqsa TV,” with the…

Obama to make history with Myanmar visit

US President Barack Obama heads to Myanmar on Monday for a historic visit aimed at encouraging a string of dramatic political reforms in the former pariah state. Obama will be the first serving US president to set foot in the country also known as Burma, in the starkest illustration yet…

World Bank warns global temp. could rise devastating 4 degrees this century

The World Bank warned Sunday that global temperatures could rise by four degrees this century without immediate action, with potentially devastating consequences for coastal cities and the poor. Issuing a call for action, the World Bank tied the future wealth of the planet — and especially developing regions — to…

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