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Large U.S. public relations firm hired to smear Bahrain opposition

By Justin Elliott / ProPublica Earlier this month, a group of three young Bahrainis arrived in Washington to talk about reform in the small Persian Gulf nation, which has been rocked by Arab Spring protests for the last year. The delegation, including an NGO worker and a tech entrepreneur, both…

Fukushima contamination ‘chronic and lasting’: French agency

PARIS — Radioactive contamination levels from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have fallen sharply since the accident but will be “chronic and lasting” for many years, a French watchdog said Tuesday. “The initial contamination linked to the accident has greatly declined,” Didier Champion, crisis manager at the Institute for Radiological…

Chavez surgery in Cuba said to be successful

HAVANA — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in good condition Tuesday after surgeons in Cuba removed a lesion from the pelvic area where they cut out a cancerous tumor last year, Vice President Elias Jaua said. “The diagnosed pelvic lesion was totally extracted,” said Jaua, adding that that “surrounding tissue”…

Chevron claims tribunal support in Ecuador fight

WASHINGTON — Chevron on Tuesday claimed the backing of an international tribunal in its fight to prevent Ecuador from enforcing a pollution fine against it that could top $18 billion. The panel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear the…

Costa cruise ship adrift off Seychelles

An Italian cruise ship from the same fleet as the tragedy-struckCosta Concordia was adrift on Tuesday in pirate-infested seas off the Seychelles with no power and with more than 1,000 people on board. A blaze in the engine room of the Costa Allegra saw the liner stranded in the dangerous and choppy Indian Ocean seas and it…

Indonesia releases orangutans into the wild

Four orangutans were released into the wild on Indonesia’s Borneo island on Tuesday, an official said, as the country ramps up efforts to protect the animals from extinction. They were the first among 40 orangutans planned to be released by the end of the year, Mega Hariyanto, the forestry ministry’s conservation chief for Central…

Leading French candidate vows 75 percent tax on super rich

The Socialist tipped to become France’s next president took aim at the wealthy Tuesday with plans to slap a 75 percent tax rate on top earners. Francois Hollande said it was simply a case of “patriotism to accept to pay extra tax to get the country back on its feet again” and reverse…

Children left behind in world’s city boom: UNICEF

More than one billion children now live in crowded cities around the world but too many are stuck among the poorest of the poor without electricity, water or education, a UN report said Tuesday. “Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services,” the…

Thai activist jailed for royal slurs

A Thai political activist has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in the latest in a series of convictions under the kingdom’s controversial royal defamation laws. The Criminal Court in Bangkok found Surachai Danwattananusorn guilty of insulting the monarchy during several public speeches he gave to…

Piracy threatens West Africa oil expansion

UNITED NATIONS — Piracy is a growing threat to West Africa’s plans to double oil production over the next decade and is already having a devastating impact on ports, the UN Security Council was warned Monday. A growing number of attacks are being recorded in the Gulf of Guinea and…

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