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Trial in class action suits against Big Tobacco to get underway in Canada

A groundbreaking trial gets underway in Montreal Monday against three leading tobacco companies which face a $25 billion lawsuit for allegedly failing to adequately warn smokers of the dangers of cigarettes. Plaintiffs have filed two separate class actions in what is Canada’s biggest-ever civilian lawsuit, against Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald and…

Mass demonstrations across Spain oppose labor ‘reforms’

By Gabriel Rubio MADRID — More than a hundred thousand demonstrators protested across Spain Sunday at labour reforms introduced by the country’s conservative government ahead of a general strike called for March 29. Two of Spain’s biggest unions, the UGT and CCOO, called for rallies ahead of the strike to…

Salt-loving wheat could help ease food crisis

PARIS — Plant scientists on Sunday said they had bred a strain of wheat that thrives in saline soils, boosting the quest to feed Earth’s growing population at a time of water stress and climate change. Durum wheat with a salt-loving gene had yields which were up to 25 percent…

Republican 2012 race ‘mathematically’ over: Graham

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney has all but won the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, top senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday, agreeing with the candidate that “mathematically, this thing is about over.” Romney has won 14 of 25 state-by-state votes that decide which Republican candidate takes on President Barack Obama in November,…

Egyptian army doctor cleared in ‘virginity tests’ case

CAIRO — An Egyptian military court on Sunday acquitted an army doctor accused of conducting forced “virginity tests” on female protesters last year, state media reported. Ahmed Adel was cleared of conducting the test on Samira Ibrahim, who brought the case against him, after the judge found the witness statements…

Iraqi ‘emos’ victims of brutal killings

BAGHDAD — Iraqi teenagers widely perceived to be gay are being brutally killed in Baghdad with Shiite militias distributing lists of targets warning of further assaults, officials and human rights groups say. At least 15 teenagers, described as “emos” for their tight-fitting black clothes and alternative hairstyles, have been stoned,…

Mass wedding in Indian ‘village of sex workers’

VADIA, India — Eight young women whose mothers are sex workers were married in a so-called “village of prostitutes” in India on Sunday under a plan to save them from being pushed into the world’s oldest profession. The event, held in the village of Vadia in the western state of…

Tajikistan allows access to Facebook after public rebuke

Authorities in Tajikistan on Sunday allowed access to Facebookfollowing an outcry from international organisations over the recent blocking of independent media sites. “Yes, we’ve allowed access to Facebook but we don’t know how long it will last,” said a spokesman for an Internet provider in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. “If we again receive a signal to shut it down…

Iran tells West to drop ‘bullying’ tone

TEHRAN — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the West should drop its “bullying” stance against his country and insisted that sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme were having no more than a “psychological” effect. “As God is my witness, the Iranian nation will not give a damn…

Catholics intensify campaign against same sex marriage

LONDON — The Roman Catholic Church stepped up its campaign against civil gay marriage, with a letter from two senior archbishops being read out at services in 2,500 churches on Sunday. The letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Archbishop Peter…

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