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Escaped Chinese blind activist’s YouTube plea

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese lawyer, confirmed his dramatic escape from house arrest and appealed to Premier Wen Jiabao to keep his family safe, in a video posted online on Friday. In the video, Chen — speaking with obvious emotion in a dark room in an undisclosed location — also revealed the names of severalgovernment…

Brazil to boost military presence to protect Amazon

Brazil will boost its military presence in the Amazon region to protect its huge natural resources from any external threat, Defense Minister Celso Amorim told the Senate. “The commitment to the defense of the Amazon is fundamental. Navy, Air Force, all services will boost their presence in the Amazon in…

Blind Chinese activist ‘escapes’ from house arrest

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese lawyer who won global acclaim for uncovering rights abuses under China’s “one child” policy, has escaped from house arrest, according to his supporters. Chen had been unable to leave his home in east China since he was released from a four-year jail sentence in September…

U.S. seeks to modernize NATO, deepen partnerships

CHICAGO — The United States will push to modernize NATO, deepen alliance partnerships and hammer out details of the Afghanistan withdrawal at an upcoming summit, White House officials said Thursday. “The alliance needs to be more deployable and more adaptable and we’re taking those lessons learned from Afghanistan and integrating…

U.S. returns looted artifacts to Italy

WASHINGTON — The United States returned seven stolen and looted artifacts to Italy on Thursday, including a rare Renaissance oil-on-copper painting and three pages ripped out of antique choir books. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano formally signed over the items — which also included a pair of 2,000-year-old ceramic vessels and…

Bin Laden family about to leave Pakistan: officials

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Osama bin Laden’s family will be deported from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia early Friday, government officials said, nearly a year after the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in a US raid. The 9/11 mastermind’s three widows and their children were detained by the Pakistani authorities after the Saudi…

One new ‘illicit’ drug popping up in European Union each week

New illicit drugs are appearing on the European Union market at a rate of nearly one a week, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said on Thursday. In 2011, a record 49 new drugs were identified, up from 41 reported in 2010, the largest number of…

Liberian ex-leader Charles Taylor guilty of Sierra Leone war crimes

Liberian ex-leader Charles Taylor was convicted Thursday of arming rebels who killed and mutilated thousands in Sierra Leone, in a historic verdict for international justice. Taylor, 64, was found guilty on all counts including acts of terrorism, murder and rape committed by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who paid…

Expert warns world needs to move ‘rapidly’ toward ‘population shrinkage’

The world’s most renowned population analyst has called for a massive reduction in the number of humans and for natural resources to be redistributed from the rich to the poor. Paul Ehrlich, Bing professor of population studies at Stanford University in California and author of the best-selling Population Bomb book…

Israel’s Peres dismisses Holocaust, Iran comparison

President Shimon Peres on Thursday distanced himself from the Israeli premier’s comparison between the Holocaust and the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. “It’s not the same thing,” Peres told the Ynet website of Yediot Aharonot newspaper in an interview for Israel’s independence day. “Holocaust is one thing and Iran is another. The comparison is out of place. But…

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