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Taliban move ‘could help Afghan peace drive’

The Taliban’s move to open a political office abroad ahead of possible peace talks with the US could mark a significant step on the road towards a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s bloody war, analysts say. The hardline Islamists announced on Tuesday that they had come to an “initial agreement with relevant sides including…

Ecuador court upholds $9.5 billion ruling against Chevron for environmental damage

QUITO — A court in Ecuador upheld a 2011 ruling requiring US oil giant Chevron to pay $9.5 billion for environmental damage in the Amazon rainforest. The landmark ruling for environment management costs was in the suit that dates back to 1993 against Texaco, a firm later acquired by Chevron.…

Mexican Grand Warlock predicts Obama loss in 2012

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Grand Warlock predicted US President Barack Obama would fail to win re-election and two more Latin American leaders would be diagnosed with cancer, in a traditional New Year’s forecast Tuesday. The Grand Warlock, or “Brujo Mayor” in Spanish, leads a Mexican tradition of “brujeria” or sorcery…

Castro ‘laughs’ off Twitter rumors of death

HAVANA — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is “laughing” off rumors about his death that went viral on Twitter, an official Cuban blogger said Tuesday. “Fidel Castro studied, analyzed and is laughing at the rumors on Twitter,” wrote Yohandry Bloquera on his blog (www.yohandry.com). “The CIA tried to kill him…

North Korea holds mass rally in support of new leader

SEOUL — More than 100,000 North Koreans rallied in support of new leader Kim Jong-Un on Tuesday, state media reported, days after he was proclaimed the “great successor” to his father. The mass rally at Kim Il-Sung Square in the capital Pyongyang was attended by citizens and a number of…

7-year-old girl attacked by kangaroo

A 7-year-old Australian girl says she thought she was going to die when a kangaroo attacked her on New Year’s Day. Makayla McEvoy recalled that a kangaroo pinned her to the ground and kicked her while she was playing at a campsite near Cowra, leaving her covered with bruises and…

Anger over secret drug trials on Indian children

Indian activists have reacted angrily after 12 doctors were fined less than $100 each for conducting secret drug trials on children and patients with learning disabilities. The Madhya Pradesh state government said the tests had not been cleared by health authorities, and it added that the doctors refused to disclose…

Pakistan Taliban commanders ‘at each other’s throats’

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani militants have held a series of meetings aimed at containing what could soon be open warfare between the two most powerful Pakistani Taliban leaders, militant sources have said. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the…

Iran warning to U.S. warship sends tensions soaring

Iran’s military on Tuesday warned one of the US navy’s biggest aircraft carriers to keep away from the Gulf, in an escalating showdown over Tehran’s nuclear drive that could pitch into armed confrontation. “We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Persian Gulf,” said Brigadier…

Taiwan mulls armed guards on ships against pirates

Taiwan is considering a plan to place armed guards on board local ships that sail in pirate-infested waters, especially off Somalia, officials and media said Tuesday. “The proposal has been under evaluation, but details of how it can be done have not been finalised,” an official at the transportation ministry told AFP, declining…

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