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44,000 Dutch take traditional New Year’s plunge in North Sea’s icy waters

Tens of thousands of revellers across the Netherlands braved the chilly winter weather on Wednesday to take a traditional New Year’s plunge in the North Sea’s icy waters. Around 10,000 swimmers — most dressed only in shorts and bikinis — stormed the waves at The Hague’s historic Scheveningen beach, while…

Shimon Peres receives petition from Israeli MPs demanding U.S. release imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard

Israeli MPs on Wednesday handed President Shimon Peres a petition urging the United States to release imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, after reports Washington spied on its own allies. “Pollard has served 29 years in prison for the severe offences he committed,” reads the petition, which was signed by 106…

Hundreds monitored in Taiwan after H7N9 strain of bird flu after infected tourist discovered

Taiwanese authorities are monitoring hundreds of people who may have had contact with a mainland Chinese tourist infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, officials said Wednesday. The 86-year-old man from the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu is in stable condition in hospital in Taiwan, where he was on…

Former First Lady Barbara Bush in hospital

Former First Lady Barbara Bush has been hospitalized in Texas with a “respiratory related,” problem. The office of former president George H.W. Bush said the 88-year-old was taken into hospital on Monday but was in “great spirits.” “Former First Lady Barbara Bush was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston’s Texas…

NASA criticizes Beyoncé over using audio sample from Challenger shuttle disaster

NASA says dangers of space exploration should not be trivialised, after Beyoncé uses clip from shuttle disaster in XO Beyoncé has been rebuked by Nasa for using an audio clip from the Challenger shuttle disaster in a new song. The space agency said the tragedy “should never be trivialised”. XO,…

Kim Jong-Un hails uncle’s execution, claims the ‘purge of scum elements’ creates unity

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Wednesday hailed the recent execution of his powerful uncle Jang Song-Thaek, saying the removal of “scum elements” had helped cement unity among his people. Kim, in his New Year message broadcast on state TV, described the purge of a “faction” within the ruling party…

Vladimir Putin vows to hunt terrorists ‘until their complete annihilation’ as Olympics near

President Vladimir Putin gave his first public response on Tuesday to the devastating bomb attacks in Volgograd and promised to hunt down the terrorists responsible “until their complete annihilation”. In his new year message, delivered from Russia’s far east for the first time, Putin paid tribute to the victims of…

Auld Lang Syne in the Antarctic as stranded adventurers await rescue

In the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, three dozen passengers from the MV Akademik Shokalskiy walked town the gangplank and stepped on to one of the ice floes that had trapped the ship since Christmas Day. They walked, carefully, along a pathway marked by small flags until they reached a…

Supreme Court issues emergency stay halting birth control mandate for Catholic groups

According to the Associated Press, a Supreme Court justice has issued an emergency stay to halt the birth control mandate for Catholic organizations. Catholic organizations had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop those elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would have forced them to provide health insurance that…

Law firm demands Florida man remove racist ‘commercial or whatever it is’ from Internet

The head of the production company behind a racist advertisement for an Alabama law firm took to YouTube again on Tuesday to respond to the firm’s letter threatening to sue him. McCutcheon & Hamner denies any involvement in the production of the commercial. Definitive Television, it claims, “hacked” its YouTube…

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