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Re-insurer: Climate change played a role in natural disaster spike

Climate change played a role in a nearly five-fold jump in weather-related natural disasters in North America over the last 30 years, Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, said on Wednesday. North America saw the world’s biggest increase in natural catastrophes between 1980 and 2011, ahead of Asia which had…

Uruguay legalizes abortion

Uruguay Wednesday became only the second country in mostly Catholic South America to legalize abortion. The Senate voted to allow women the right, under certain conditions, to end an unwanted pregnancy, and make access to the right part of its health care system. The tally in the 31-seat chamber was…

Asia’s top literary award looking for new sponsor

The organisers of Asia’s most prestigious prize for literature said Thursday they were looking for a new sponsor after the Man Group announced it was ending its funding for the prize after six years. The Man Asian Literary Prize began in 2007 and is given to the best novel by…

Chinese mafia suspects appear in Spanish court

Several suspects arrested in Spain as part of a probe into Chinese gangs suspected of laundering tens of millions of euros each year appeared in court for questioning Wednesday. Ten of the over 80 people detained in raids carried out on Tuesday across Spain arrived at the central Madrid court…

Zimmerman trial date set for June

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin, will go on trial on 10 June, a judge ruled on Wednesday. The trial date was set by judge Debra Nelson in a Florida court, but the court noted that there are still several unresolved matters to…

Marie-Antoinette silk slippers auction for $82,000

A pair of silk slippers believed to have been worn by Marie-Antoinette, the wife of French monarch Louis XVI, sold at auction for 62,460 euros ($82,025) here on Wednesday. The size 36-and-a-half (six) slippers, green with ornate pink bands across them and featuring a silk bow, had been expected to…

‘The Vines’ frontman charged with assault after holding knives to mother’s throat

The lead singer of Australian rock group The Vines appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault after allegedly holding knives to his mother’s throat, and intimidating his parents, with whom he lives. Vines frontman Craig Nicholls fronted a Sydney court on five charges including assault and stalking or intimidating with…

Obama, Romney agree on comfort zone: 63 degrees

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney disagree on many things, but their teams reached consensus on one issue — the room temperature in the hall at their second debate. By bipartisan agreement, the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates kept the room at a cool 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (17 to…

Rare earthquake rattles Maine

A 4.0-magnitude earthquake struck the northeastern US state of Maine and was felt as far south as Boston and throughout New England, shocking residents unaccustomed to such tremors. There were no reports of damage or casualties following the quake, which struck shortly after 7:00 pm local time (2300 GMT), with…

Arafat widow ‘questioned in French murder probe’

French investigators probing the death of Yasser Arafat questioned his widow Suha, who claims the veteran Palestinian leader may have been poisoned, in France in mid-September, a source told AFP Wednesday. France opened a murder enquiry in late August after Arafat’s family launched legal action following reports he may have…

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