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EU ends shark finning, practice of mutilating, leaving sharks to die

The European parliament on Thursday called a definitive halt to shark finning, the long contested practice of fishermen slicing off fins and throwing the live body overboard to drown. The EU prohibited shark finning in 2003, but an exemption allowed fishermen with special permits to remove the fins from their…

Swiss nuclear reactor back up after closure over defect

A reactor at a Swiss nuclear plant that automatically shut down due to a defect was brought back online Thursday evening, the operator said. “After an interruption of around 24 hours, Block 2 of the Beznau nuclear power plant will start producing electricity again tonight,” operator Axpo said in a…

Four Chinese hostages freed in Colombia

Four Chinese oil company employees held hostage since June 2011, allegedly by Colombia’s FARC rebels, have been freed in southern Colombia, their embassy said Thursday. “They released the four last night in the department of Caqueta. They are in good spirits,” said the spokesman of China’s embassy in Bogota. The…

Brazil swears in first black supreme court president

Brazil judge Joaquim Barbosa took the oath of office as Brazil’s first ever black head of the Supreme Court on Thursday, in a historic ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff and other top leaders. The son of a bricklayer and a cleaner, Barbosa, 58, pledged in his swearing in “to…

After ceasefire, Israel arrests 55 militants in West Bank

Israeli troops arrested 55 Palestinian “terror operatives” across the West Bank overnight, hours after a truce came into effect in the Gaza Strip, the army said Thursday. “A total of 55 terror operatives, who are affiliated with different terror groups have been detained. Among those arrested were a number of…

Ugandan parliament to debate anti-gay bill

Ugandan lawmakers will debate a controversial anti-gay bill calling for severe punishments for homosexuality in the near future, a parliamentary spokeswoman said Thursday. The proposed legislation could come up for debate in the next few days after it was included as the third item on Thursday’s order paper for parliamentary…

Nordic countries tell Facebook to stop ads

Facebook should stop unsolicited advertising to users in Nordic countries or face legal action, the Norwegian consumer agency said on Thursday. The agency, like its counterparts in the Nordic region, wants to put an end to the unsolicited advertisements that appear on users’ news feeds. It has sent a letter…

Man with knife takes hostages at bank, demands Japan PM resign

A man armed with a knife took five people hostage at a Japanese bank Thursday, police said, with local media reporting he was demanding Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet resign. About seven hours after the drama began the man released one hostage, public broadcaster NHK reported. Television footage showed a…

Uganda postpones trial of British gay play producer David Cecil

A Ugandan court on Thursday postponed the trial of a British theatre producer for staging a play about a gay man without proper authorisation until early next year, his lawyer said. David Cecil — who faces up to two years in jail if found guilty — was arrested in September…

Small bats squeak at higher pitch to focus better

Small bats have to emit higher-pitched squeaks than their bigger cousins for their sonar navigation systems to work equally well, scientists said Wednesday. Bats use sonar signals to navigate in dark spaces, known as echolocation, but scientists have been at a loss to explain why the smaller species’ pitch was…

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