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British spy managed to kill himself with weird accident in his bathtub and wasn’t murdered, police decide

A codebreaker for the MI6 foreign intelligence agency, whose naked body was found padlocked in a holdall inside a bathtub three years ago, most likely killed himself by accident, police said Wednesday. A fresh review of the mysterious “spy in the bag” case has concluded that 31-year-old intelligence analyst Gareth…

Israel scraps plans for a ‘record’ 20,000 West Bank settler homes in face of Iran deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to scrap plans for a “record” 20,000 West Bank settler homes was driven by Israel’s bid to scupper an Iranian nuclear deal, observers said Wednesday. Netanyahu publicly forced his Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who had approved the plans, to back down after drawing US condemnation…

Endangered ‘Asian Unicorn’ spotted in Vietnam

The critically endangered twin-horned saola has been sighted in Vietnam for the first time in over a decade, raising hopes of recovery for the mysterious animal, conservationists said Wednesday. Known as the “Asian Unicorn” for its extreme elusiveness, the antelope-like creature was spotted in September using a camera trap set…

Chevron ordered on appeal to pay Ecuador $9.51 billion for environmental damage

An Ecuadoran court upheld a ruling that US oil giant Chevron was liable for environmental damage in its Amazon basin region by sister company Texaco, but ordered it to pay a reduced $9.51 billion. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a 2012 ruling against Texaco, which operated in the South…

WWII veteran nursed to health in Philippines returns the gesture 70 years later

As a merchant mariner in the Philippines near the end of World War II, Edward Sorock suffered a serious leg injury when a boom collapsed aboard the S.S. Frederick Bouchard, the Liberty ship he served on carrying ammunition to U.S. troops…  …

Abandoned puppy rescued from Indian trash dump becomes ‘first dog’ to tackle Mount Everest

An abandoned puppy rescued from a rubbish dump in India has trekked to Everest Base Camp, becoming what is believed to be the first dog to tackle the peak, his owner said Wednesday. Former professional golfer Joanne Lefson told AFP she adopted the 11-month-old dog, called Rupee, in the mountainous…

American ballerina accuses Russia’s Bolshoi in ‘cash for solos’ scam

Russia’s legendary Bolshoi ballet was embroiled in a new scandal Wednesday after an American ballerina accused the theatre of demanding $10,000 to allow her to dance solos. Texan Joy Womack, 19, a young dancer hired last year after graduating from Bolshoi’s dancing school, said in an interview with the Izvestia…

Big cats’ oldest ancestor Panthera blytheae discovered in Tibetan Himalayas

The fossil skull of the Panthera blytheae, the precursor to all modern lions, tigers and leopards was found in the Himalayas Scientists have found in the Tibetan Himalayas the fossil skull of the oldest known big cat, the precursor to all modern lions, tigers and leopards, pushing back the fossil…

‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ says UN must stop development of weapons that engage targets without human intervention

An international coalition of disarmament and human rights groups has said that UN-sponsored talks in Geneva this week must seize the opportunity to ban the development of fully autonomous weapons, dubbed “killer robots”. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said that such weapons, once activated, would select and engage targets…

Afghanistan’s poppy farmers plant record-breaking opium crop in 2013

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2013 as farmers seek to “insure” themselves ahead of NATO forces’ withdrawal next year, the United Nations said Wednesday. The area under cultivation rose by 36 percent in 2013, the UN drugs agency UNODC said in its annual report on…

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