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Protester slaps Nepal’s Maoist leader in the face

KATHMANDU — The leader of Nepal’s 10-year Maoist insurgency was left shaken on Friday when a former supporter slapped the ex-guerilla across the face, smashing his glasses. Police dragged away 25-year-old Padam Kunwar during the angry confrontation with Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known as Prachanda, or the…

Obama calls for ‘tough compromises’ in fiscal cliff talks

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders vowed Friday to make difficult compromises on taxes and spending as they opened talks on dodging a looming fiscal cliff and trimming the US deficit. With only weeks to avoid steep automatic budget cuts and tax hikes that could send the country…

Gaza, an impoverished and besieged sliver of land

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The Gaza Strip, under fire from Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence campaign unleashed on Wednesday, is an impoverished and overpopulated enclave ruled by the Islamist group Hamas. Some 1.6 million Palestinians live in the cramped territory spread over 362 square kilometres (140 square miles) along…

UN: At least 750,000 preterm babies die unnecessarily every year

The lives of at least 750,000 premature babies could be saved every year by taking simple and inexpensive steps to limit preterm birth, the world’s largest killer of newborns, UN health experts said Friday. “There are many interventions that can save lives and improve the quality of these babies’ lives…

Texas lawmaker seeks to reverse Planned Parenthood ban

By Sofia Resnick A Texas lawmaker introduced legislation earlier this week that would nullify a controversial rule banning abortion affiliates from participating in a Medicaid program that offers reproductive health care to low-income women. The bill takes aim at the ongoing battle some state leaders – including conservative Republican Gov. Rick Perry…

Petraeus testimony fails to satisfy Republicans on Benghazi attack

David Petraeus, the scandal-hit former CIA chief, faced a Congressional grilling on Friday over conflicting accounts of the attack in September on the US consulate in Benghazi. Petraeus, in his first public outing since resigning from the CIA a week ago over an affair with his biographer, was smuggled into Congress for…

Indian textbook says meat-eating makes you lie, steal and fight

The pros and cons of meat-eating may be the subject of debate for nutritionists, but one Indian school textbook is clear: a fleshy diet will make you lie, steal and even commit sex crimes. The unusual moral guidance appeared in a school book for 11-year-olds, purporting to offer education on…

France denies access to refuge for Mayan end-of-the-world believers

France on Friday dashed the hopes of those who had planned to take refuge in one of the few places on Earth some believe will be spared when the world ends on December 21. Local officials banned access to the Pic de Bugarach, a mountain in the southwest where rumour…

‘Call of Duty’ sees record sales of more than $500 million in first 24 hours

The latest installment of the blockbuster video game “Call of Duty” raked in more than $500 million in the first 24 hours, making it “the biggest entertainment launch of the year,” its publisher said Friday. Activision Blizzard said “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” was an instant hit as it…

IKEA ‘regrets’ use of forced labor in Cold War-era east Germany

Swedish furniture giant Ikea on Friday admitted that some of its suppliers used forced labour in former Communist East Germany and expressed “deep regret” that its controls were less strict at the time. Releasing a report into the use of forced labour in East Germany that came under fire even…

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