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Former Afghan parliamentarian arrested on kidnapping, rape charges

A prominent Afghan lawyer close to a possible presidential candidate has been arrested on charges of kidnapping and raping a woman, prosecutors said Sunday. Kabir Ranjbar, the president of the Afghan Lawyers’ Union and a former member of parliament, was detained on Saturday, deputy attorney general Rahmatullah Nazari told AFP.…

Iraqis plan to unearth more than 270 mass gravesites from Saddam regime

Iraq wants to put the legacy of murderous dictator Saddam Hussein behind it, but faces a huge need for specialists to excavate mass graves thought to contain at least half a million unidentified victims. The stakes are high for Iraq, a country seeking reconciliation with itself, where countless families lost…

Spain requests €100 billion Euro loan to prevent financial meltdown

Spain formally requested a rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) from its eurozone partners in a letter released Monday. No new figures were included in the letter, after reports by independent consultants last week said stricken Spanish banks could need up to 62 billion euros to…

Assange wants guarantee he won’t be sent to U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Monday called for diplomatic guarantees he will not be pursued by the United States for publishing secret documents if he goes to Sweden to face criminal allegations. The Australian, 40, said he is prepared to go to Sweden to face questioning over sex assault claims, but…

Italy’s Berlusconi may be hoping for comeback

John Hooper, The Guardian STANDFIRST: Disgraced former PM’s remarks fuel speculation that he is aiming to regain power on ticket of withdrawal from euro He may have been jeered from office last year. He may be on trial accused of paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl. And last week…

South American summit bars new Paraguay leader after ‘parliamentary coup’

Paraguay’s new president was barred Sunday from participating in a summit of South American presidents next week, deepening the country’s isolation over the ouster of former president Fernando Lugo. Argentina’s foreign ministry said the move was adopted by the other members and associate states of Mercosur, a South American trading…

Gentrification, religious tensions threaten historic city of Acre

Amid narrow winding alleys, crumbling courtyards and dark doorways of neglected buildings, a work of art gleams within the walls of Israel’s ancient but dilapidated city of Acre. The Efendi Palace hotel opened in March after eight-and-a-half years of painstaking restoration. A team of experts was brought from Venice to…

U.S. urges new Egyptian government to be ‘pillar of peace’

WASHINGTON — The United States congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on his election as Egypt’s new president and urged his government to fulfill its role as a “pillar of regional peace.” After a bitterly divisive election that pitted Morsi against Mubarak-era premier Ahmed Shafiq, the White House called on…

Norway’s oil production halts as workers strike over pensions

More than 700 oil workers went on strike in Norway Sunday after pension negotiations broke down, prompting production closures which could cost tens of millions of dollars per day, the employers’ organisation said. The strike which started at 4:00 am (0200 GMT) Sunday involved employees of Norwegian oil group Statoil,…

North Korea says U.S. fired at its flag

North Korea on Sunday denounced US-South Korean military drills near the tense border as a “provocation” and vowed to “further bolster up its nuclear deterrent”, state media reported. Some 2,000 South Korean and US troops along with jet fighters, tanks and attack helicopters took part in the live-fire exercise Friday…

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