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Iraqi women face court-ordered virginity tests

Iraqi women face court-ordered virginity tests that often show they were virgins until marriage but shame them nonetheless, doctors at an institute that carries out the tests and a lawyer told AFP. Remaining a virgin until marriage can be an issue of life or death for women in the Middle…

Iran shrugs off EU oil embargo

TEHRAN — A European Union embargo on Iranian oil went into effect on Sunday, provoking anger in Tehran which says the measure will hurt talks with world powers over its sensitive nuclear activities. Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi sought to downplay the embargo as just the latest punishment in decades of…

Swimming granny fails to reach Florida from Cuba

An attempt by British-Australian woman Penny Palfrey to swim unassisted from Cuba to Florida ended in failure early Sunday after she had to be pulled out of the water unable to cope with a strong ocean current. “Penny Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water, after swimming for…

‘Social protests’ continue across Israel

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated across the country on Saturday, continuing their resurrection of the social protest movement that rocked the country last summer. Protesters in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the northern city of Haifa chanted slogans including “The only solution to privatisation is revolution” and “Power from money is the…

In Peru, tribes fight new Amazon highway

A fierce row has broken out over a controversial plan to drive a road through pristine Amazon rainforest, imperiling the future of some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. The 125-mile (200km) road would pass through the Alto Purús national park in Peru, connecting a remote area to the outside…

Ex-Israeli Prime Minister Shamir Dies

Yitzhak Shamir, former two-time Prime Minister of Israel, died Saturday after a long illness, according to MSNBC. He was 96. “Yitzhak Shamir belongs to a generation of giants, who founded the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people in its land,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…

Protests planned as Hong Kong installs new leader Sunday

Hong Kong installs a new leader and marks 15 years of Chinese rule Sunday, at a time of strong anti-Beijing sentiment after visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao was targeted by angry protesters. Hu is scheduled to inaugurate the city’s next chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, and his government at 9:00 am…

Paris Gay Pride buoyed by promise of same-sex marriage law

Always colourful and raucous, the annual Gay Pride parade in Paris on Saturday was further buoyed by the promise of France’s new Socialist government to legalise gay marriage and adoption rights. “This is a special parade because it is the first time we have a government, a president, a parliament…

Mexico’s PRI set for election victory

The PRI, the party that ran Mexico for most of the 20th century, appears set to return to national power Sunday led by their handsome presidential candidate and his glamorous TV-star wife. If pre-vote surveys are correct, the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s Enrique Pena Nieto will coast to victory, with hundreds…

Egypt’s Morsi vows to be ‘servant of the people’

Mohamed Morsi took the oath of office on Saturday to become Egypt’s first Islamist president and its first elected head of state since the revolt that overthrew Hosni Mubarak overthrow last year. The ceremony took place in the constitutional court rather than parliament, the result of an ongoing tussle with…

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