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$45 million deficit forces San Bernardino, Calif. into bankruptcy

Facing a $45 million deficit, San Bernardino became the third California city in less than two weeks to file for municipal bankruptcy on Tuesday, after it was revealed that the city received falsified budget information for 13 of the past 16 years, according to the San Bernardino Sun. The San…

Melinda Gates defies Vatican to push for access to contraception in Asia, Africa

The billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates, a practising Catholic, has thrown down the gauntlet to the Vatican and vowed to dedicate the rest of her life to improving access to contraception across the globe. Gates, who with her husband, Bill, the founder of Microsoft, is one of the world’s biggest players…

Russia passes website blacklisting bill said to stifle political dissent

The Russian parliament on Wednesday voted to approve a contentious bill that activists fear will introduce Internet censorship by blacklisting sites deemed as undesirable. In a further controversial move, deputies also passed in first reading a bill that makes libel and slander criminal offences with punishment of up to five…

Belfast euthanizes ‘illegal’ pit-bull Lennox despite international campaign

A celebrity dog in Northern Ireland has been put down because he was a danger to the public, Belfast City Council said Wednesday, despite a massive international campaign on the Internet to save him. Some 200,000 people signed a petition to save Lennox, whose owner waged a two-year legal battle…

60 House Democrats refuse to sign federal court brief against DOMA

A group of House Democrats filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking a federal appeals court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner. However, 60 Democrats — including 15 who had co-sponsored a bill repealing the DOMA — chose not to sign on to Tuesday’s brief to…

Amazon reportedly testing new smartphone

The online retail giant Amazon is testing a new smartphone and may launch production later this year or early next year, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The story, datelined Taipei, said the company is working with Asian component suppliers to test the new device, which would enter a crowded…

Chinese woman given $11,000 to compensate for forced abortion

Chinese authorities have paid $11,000 to a woman forced to abort seven months into her pregnancy, her lawyer said Wednesday, adding that the money would never compensate for her endless pain. The case caused global outrage after photos of the mother with the bloody fetus circulated online last month, though…

Richard Branson, family to make first private voyage into space in 2013

British tycoon Richard Branson stole the show here Wednesday, announcing that he and his family would be on Virgin Galactic’s first trip into space, as Airbus and Boeing eked out more plane orders. Branson was showcasing a mock-up of his SpaceShipTwo (SS2) aircraft at the biennial Farnborough airshow near London…

Widespread sexual abuse uncovered at Indian orphanages

A series of sex abuse scandals at orphanages and shelters in India has sounded alarms over the management of children’s homes, many of which operate with little or no public oversight. Criminal charges against staff at a number of homes have highlighted what activists say is a pervasive culture of…

Report: Americans paid 17 percent less taxes in 2009

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years during President Obama’s first year in office, according to the Washington Post. In 2009, households paid an average tax rate of 17.4 percent, down nearly two full percentage points from 2007…

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