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Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban talks

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan will accept a Taliban office in Qatar to help peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government’s peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the 10-year war. Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions,…

Hackers swiped credit card data from security think tank Stratfor

(Reuters) – U.S. security think tank Strategic Forecasting Inc(Stratfor) said its website had been hacked and that some of the names of corporate subscribers had been made public. Stratfor said the breach came from an unauthorized party, while activist hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility. “As a result of this incident the operation of…

Russian protest warning as activist jailed again

The Russian opposition on Monday vowed new protests this week after a leading anti-Kremlin activist was give a fresh jail sentence following the latest mass rally against Vladimir Putin. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in the second mass opposition protest in a month, increasing the…

China tests 500 km/h super high-speed train

BEIJING (Reuters) - China launched a super-rapid test train over the weekend which is capable of travelling 500 kilometers per hour, state media said on Monday, as the country moves ahead with its railway ambitions despite serious problems on its high-speed network. The train, made by a subsidiary of CSR Corp Ltd, China’s…

Ancient ‘purity’ seal found near Jerusalem temple site

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli archaeologists said on Sunday they had found a 2,000-year-old clay seal near Jerusalem’s Western Wall, confirming written accounts of ritual practices in the biblicalJewish Temple. The button-shaped object bears the Aramaic words “pure for God,” suggesting it was used to certify food and animals used in sacrificial ceremonies. The Western Wall is part of…

Bahrain medics recall jail ‘horror’

Shiite Muslim doctors, out on bail in Bahrain pending retrial for their role in pro-democracy protests, look back with horror at months of torture and demand a neutral hearing. “I can’t talk,” sobbed consultant paediatrician Nader Dawani, recounting how he was forced to stand up for seven days, while being beaten repeatedly, mainly…

Kim Jong-Il’s eldest son ‘under Chinese protection’

The eldest son of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-Il has arrived in Beijing as Pyongyang prepares a state funeral for his father, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday. Citing what it called a source familiar with Kim Jong-Nam’s activities, it said he arrived in Beijing from Macau a few days ago and “has been placed under Chinese protection”. Seoul’s National Intelligence Service said it…

Lady Gaga to appear on Japanese New Year’s Eve show

TOKYO — American pop diva Lady Gaga will appear via videolink on a popular Japanese music competition on New Year’s Eve, public broadcaster NHK says. The eccentric star’s appearance on “Kohaku Uta Gassen”, an annual singing competition between male and female entertainers, will including her singing and delivering encouraging messages…

Power failures disrupt Uganda grasshopper harvest

KAMPALA — Standing in the glare of a 250 watt light bulb in the yard of his uncle’s house, Hilary Turyamugumya peers hopefully into the night sky in search of grasshoppers. “Every evening I first pray for there to be power — and then I pray that the grasshoppers will…

Egypt to free activist blogger from prison

CAIRO — Egypt’s judiciary decided on Sunday to free blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has spent the past two months in custody, a judicial source and his sister said. Mona Abdel Fattah told AFP a court ordered Alaa, who was remanded into custody on October 30, released, and…

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