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Russia opposes ‘unbalanced’ new UN draft on Syria

Russia said Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” UN draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels. “We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text…

China’s rights record worsened in 2011: group

China’s human rights record worsened in 2011, making it the most repressive year in a decade, after Beijing launched a crackdown following protests across the Arab world, a group said Friday. Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in its annual report on rights activists in China that 2011 was…

Saboteurs blamed as Japan whale catch falls short

Japan’s Antarctic whaling fleet has killed less than a third of the animals it planned to because of sabotage by activists, Tokyo said Friday as it announced the end of the season’s hunt. Japan’s Fisheries Agency said the fleet was on its way home from the Antarctic “on schedule”, but…

Greece clinches landmark debt swap

Greece said on Friday it had clinched a “historic” debt swap, opening the way for an urgent second bailout to save the country from bankruptcy and the eurozone from a new crisis. Private creditors tendered bonds amounting to 83.5 percent of debt covered by a deal to cancel half the…

S.Africa court dismisses Wal-Mart takeover challenge

A South African court cleared the way on Friday for the world’s top retailer Wal-Mart to take its first foothold in Africa by dismissing a government bid to set aside its $2.2 billion takeover of local chain Massmart. The case is seen as a bellwether for foreign investment in South…

Oil prices diverge before US payrolls data

World oil prices diverged on Friday amid caution before key payrolls data in top crude consumer the United States, and as Greece reached a debt deal with private creditors to avert bankruptcy. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for delivery in April, added 34…

Deal due on handing US prisons to Afghans

A breakthrough deal on the transfer of the controversial US-run Bagram prison and other detention facilities in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities will be signed Friday, officials said. The handover of the prison — sometimes called Afghanistan’s Guantanamo Bay — has been a key sticking point in talks between the United…

Russia probes ‘arson’ deaths of 7 children

Police opened a murder investigation on Friday after alleged arson killed a couple and seven children during a house fire in a village near the central Russian city of Perm. “According to the preliminary results of an examination of the scene, the cause of the fire was arson,” the Russian…

Director James Cameron to explore Earth’s deepest ocean trench

“Titanic” director James Cameron will try in the coming weeks to dive to the deepest place on Earth, further than any other human has on a solo mission, to return with specimens and images. Cameron would seek to accomplish his feat aboard a submersible “as futuristic as anything in his…

British, Italian hostages killed amid Nigerian rescue bid

A British and an Italian hostage kidnapped in Nigeria nearly a year ago were killed on Thursday as a rescue operation sought to save them, and Nigeria said their Islamist extremist murderers were arrested. The killing of the two men kidnapped in May 2011 brought a shocking end to their…

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