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39 dead in Syria as UN monitors say they are ‘obliged’ to stay

Twenty-eight soldiers were among 39 people killed in violence in Syria on Wednesday, a rights group said, as UN observers said they were “morally obliged” to stay in the country despite the risks. Russia resisted Western pleas to help remove President Bashar al-Assad from power despite escalating hostilities that have…

U.K. police say Assange subject to arrest for skipping bail

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has sought political asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has breached bail conditions and is subject to arrest, police said Wednesday. The conditions include staying at his bail address between 10:00pm and 8:00am and “he is now subject to arrest under the Bail Act…

‘Al-Qaeda militant’ takes hostages at French bank

A man claiming to be an Al-Qaeda militant took four hostages at a bank in the southern French city Toulouse on Wednesday and wants to negotiate with an elite police unit, police said. The man entered the bank around 0900 GMT, fired a gun and wants to talk to the…

China’s Ai Weiwei barred from court in tax case

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was barred from a hearing Wednesday challenging a multi-million-dollar tax penalty against a firm he founded, he said, accusing authorities of seeking to “crush” him. Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist also renowned for his political activism, disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as…

Australian mega-brothel gets go-ahead

A Sydney brothel has received the green light for a multi-million-dollar expansion which will see it become Australia’s largest sex premises, with rooms featuring multiple beds and pool tables. Plans to double the number of rooms at inner Sydney’s “Stiletto” into a mega-brothel complex were knocked back late last year…

Rio+20: Greenpeace declares war on the finance sector

Kumi Naidoo, the global head of Greenpeace, is losing patience with the ability of companies and financial institutions to move away from their destructive behaviour. While he recognises that there are a few progressive business leaders who share his concerns, Naidoo says he is planning to step up his campaign…

Walgreens expands globally as contraception concerns linger

Walgreens, already the largest drug retailing chain in the US, is to expand into the global marketplace with the takeover of Alliance Boots in the UK. It may have work to do on its reputation among female consumers, however, as it has repeatedly come under fire from US reproductive health…

Ecuador’s free speech record at odds with Julian Assange’s bid for openness

Julian Assange may not have had many options when he was considering where to seek asylum, but even still, Ecuador is a far from obvious choice. Assange faces extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes after Britain’s top court said last week that it had rejected a legal…

Indian father shows no remorse after beheading daughter over ‘affairs’

An Indian father cut off his daughter’s head and paraded it around his village after becoming enraged over her relationships with men, police in the western state of Rajasthan said Tuesday. Oghad Singh, a marble mine worker, used a sword to behead his 22-year-old daughter Manju, who was married three…

UNESCO to display ancient artifacts recovered from thieves

Byzantium frescoes, paintings by early Baroque artists and a letter by Christopher Colombus are among 31 stolen artefacts recovered by Italian police to go on show Wednesday at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters. “This exhibition … is aimed at raising awareness worldwide about the safeguarding of our cultural heritage,” said Pasquale Muggeo,…

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