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Russia opposes ‘unbalanced’ new UN draft on Syria

Russia said Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” UN draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels. “We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text…

China’s rights record worsened in 2011: group

China’s human rights record worsened in 2011, making it the most repressive year in a decade, after Beijing launched a crackdown following protests across the Arab world, a group said Friday. Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in its annual report on rights activists in China that 2011 was…

Greece clinches landmark debt swap

Greece said on Friday it had clinched a “historic” debt swap, opening the way for an urgent second bailout to save the country from bankruptcy and the eurozone from a new crisis. Private creditors tendered bonds amounting to 83.5 percent of debt covered by a deal to cancel half the…

S.Africa court dismisses Wal-Mart takeover challenge

A South African court cleared the way on Friday for the world’s top retailer Wal-Mart to take its first foothold in Africa by dismissing a government bid to set aside its $2.2 billion takeover of local chain Massmart. The case is seen as a bellwether for foreign investment in South…

Russia probes ‘arson’ deaths of 7 children

Police opened a murder investigation on Friday after alleged arson killed a couple and seven children during a house fire in a village near the central Russian city of Perm. “According to the preliminary results of an examination of the scene, the cause of the fire was arson,” the Russian…

British, Italian hostages killed amid Nigerian rescue bid

A British and an Italian hostage kidnapped in Nigeria nearly a year ago were killed on Thursday as a rescue operation sought to save them, and Nigeria said their Islamist extremist murderers were arrested. The killing of the two men kidnapped in May 2011 brought a shocking end to their…

13 million people threatened by food crisis: Oxfam

DAKAR — About 13 million people living in west and central Africa face a major food crisis unless immediate action is taken, humanitarian group Oxfam warned Thursday. A dangerous combination of drought, high food prices, reduced harvests, poverty and conflict are driving an emerging crisis across several nations including Chad,…

Pakistan charges bin Laden wives with illegal entry

Pakistan has charged Osama bin Laden’s three widows with illegal entry, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Thursday, without saying when it had done so or when a trial would begin. Pakistan took the Al-Qaeda terror chief’s wives — two Saudis and a Yemeni — and around 10 of their children…

Ten arrests in global child porn network

Ten people have been arrested in France, Italy, Portugal and the United States in an Italian-led inquiry into an online child porn network operating in 28 countries, investigators said Thursday. The prosecutor’s office in Florence headed the probe, nicknamed “Operation Nanny”, in coordination with the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit…

Rome’s Colosseum reveals secret history of women

The Colosseum in Rome held a special tour to mark Women’s Day on Thursday, exploring the famous monument’s feminine angle — from female gladiators to noblewomen in love with the arena fighters. “From senators’ wives to humbler women, many were crazy about gladiators. They were like footballers today,” said Lucilla…

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