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Colombia and FARC rebels to start peace talks

Colombia’s government and leftist FARC rebels were set to kick off peace talks in Norway on Thursday in what a Bogota official called a “respectful and cordial” atmosphere. Oslo and later Havana are hosting the talks that seek to end Latin America’s oldest conflict, which has claimed hundreds of thousands…

Harpooned husband case back in court

The conviction for murder of a Madagascan woman who allegedly tricked one of her many lovers into killing her husband with a fishing harpoon goes to appeal in France on Thursday. In a case her lawyers say is a test of whether the French courts can deal fairly with people…

Merkel pushes EU veto over national budgets

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday the European Union’s top financial official should have the power to veto the national budgets of member states. Merkel, addressing the Bundestag lower house of parliament ahead of an EU summit beginning later in Brussels, said the EU’s economics commissioner should have the authority…

Sponsors flee Armstrong as he quits Livestrong

Sponsors stampeded away from endorsement deals with doping-disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong, who also stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong anti-cancer charity he founded. Armstrong was issued a life ban and stripped of seven Tour de France titles in August by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which last week…

Obesity surgery is good for the heart: research

Bariatric surgery to help the obese shed weight also reduces risks of cardiovascular disease, according to a review published on Wednesday in the specialist journal Heart. Restrictive bands on the stomach or surgery to bypass part of the digestive tract are sometimes used to help morbidly obese patients lose weight…

Moody’s downgrades world’s oldest bank to ‘junk’

Moody’s credit rating agency on Thursday downgraded the world’s oldest bank, Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, to “junk” status on worries government recapitalisation plans will prove insufficient. The lowering of BMPS’s rating by two notches to “Baaa3″, a non-investment grade, reflects Moody’s view that “there remains a material…

Obama, Romney trade new blows in contested territory

President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney stoked the embers of their smoldering debate as they campaigned through fiercely contested territory less than three weeks before the election. Hitting the campaign trail on Wednesday — a day after one of the most contentious presidential face-offs in history — the two…

Twins conjoined at the head separated in life-saving operation

Conjoined twin girls have been successfully separated the day after their birth during an emergency operation in London, their mother revealed on Thursday. The chances of Rosie and Ruby Formosa surviving a separation were deemed low by doctors, but now the pair are “bubbly babies” who are expected to lead…

Twitter blocks German neo-Nazi account in world first

Micro-blogging site Twitter said Thursday it had blocked a neo-Nazi group’s account at the request of German police in what it called a global first for the company. In a move pitting censorship concerns against national laws on hate speech, Twitter said it had deployed the tool developed this year…

Fidel Castro statement issued amid health rumors

The first public statement in almost four months from Fidel Castro appeared in Cuba’s state media on Wednesday, as rumors persist about the 86-year-old revolutionary icon’s health. Castro has not been seen in public since March 28, when Pope Benedict XVI paid a landmark visit, and briefly the following week…

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