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Springsteen favored to write new U.S. anthem: poll

WASHINGTON — Twenty-two percent of Americans think veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen should compose a new US national anthem to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner,” suggests an online poll released Monday. That’s more than the 19 percent who think country legend Dolly Parton is up to the task, or the 18 percent…

Solar-powered plane attempts first intercontinental flight

MADRID — A Swiss adventurer aims to make the world’s first intercontinental flight in a solar-powered plane Tuesday, taking off from Madrid shortly before dawn on a daring trip to Rabat. Bernard Piccard, 54-year-old psychiatrist and balloonist, is to pilot the Solar Impulse plane, a giant as big as an…

Wider letter spacing helps dyslexics read: study

WASHINGTON — European researchers said Monday that offering reading materials with wider spacing between the letters can help dyslexic children read faster and better. In a sample of dyslexic children age eight to 14, extra-wide letter spacing doubled accuracy and increased reading speed by more than 20 percent, according to…

New legislation aims to curb cancer drug shortages

CHICAGO — A critical shortage of generic drugs in the United States, particularly in cancer care, could be curbed with legislation now being hammered out by the US House and Senate, doctors said on Monday. Similar versions have passed each chamber and may be reconciled in time for President Barack…

Putin heads to China to cement key alliance

TASHKENT — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in China on Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at bolstering a crucial alliance that has seen the giant neighbours block further action against Syria. Both energy and foreign policy cooperation are high on the agenda, with Putin also participating in a regional…

Saudi accuses activist of ‘disrespecting’ judiciary

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Monday accused prominent activist Waleed Abu Alkhair of “disrespecting” the judiciary and contacting foreign organisations, his wife told AFP by telephone. Alkhair was summoned by the prosecutor in the Red Sea city of Jeddah who accused him of “disrespecting the judiciary system… contacting…

‘South Park: Stick of Truth’ videogame to be released in 2013

LOS ANGELES — The creators of the South Park cartoon sitcom known for crude language and lampooning hot-button social issues are about to whack the videogame world with “Stick of Truth.” Trey Parker and Matt Stone used a Microsoft Xbox 360 press event on Monday to unveil a “South Park:…

Vatican’s number two lashes against ‘ferocious’ leaks

ROME — Vatican’s powerful number two on Monday spoke out for the first time on the continued leaks of Holy See secret documents, denouncing them as a “ferocious, biting and organised” attack on the pope. “Attacks have always existed… this time it seems that the attacks are more targeted, sometimes…

Argentina ‘suing’ British oil companies over Falklands

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina declared British oil exploration off the Falklands “illegal” on Monday and immediately set about suing five companies for pursuing activities around the contested islands. Britain responded almost immediately, saying the islanders were entitled to develop their own natural resources and it was Buenos Aires that was…

The Vatican condemns nun’s sex-positive book

The Vatican has condemned a leading American nun for writing a book in which she praises female masturbation and approves divorce and gay sex and marriage, warning that the book must not be used by catholic educators. The Vatican’s criticism of Sister Margaret Farley, a professor emeritus of Christian ethics…

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