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World’s oldest surviving Chinese sailing vessel returns to Taiwan

The world’s oldest surviving Chinese junk returned home to Taiwan on Thursday, nearly 60 years after it set sail on a historic voyage to the United States, organisers said. The Free China arrived in the northern port of Keelung aboard a cargo ship from San Francisco. It will be restored…

Japan bank freezes Iran accounts after court order

A Japanese bank has halted transactions by the Iranian government after a US court ordered a $2.6 billion asset freeze over the 1983 bombing of US barracks in Beirut, a bank spokesman said on Thursday. “We have received the order from the US court,” to freeze $2.6 billion of assets,…

Spanish queen cancels jubilee trip to London

Spain’s Queen Sofia has cancelled a trip to London on Friday to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration lunch due to tensions with Britain over the disputed territory of Gibraltar. “The government considers it is hardly adequate that in the current circumstances, Queen Sofia take part in Queen Elizabeth’s…

Growth figures show Japan on recovery track

Japan’s economy grew by a faster-than-expected 1.0 percent in the three months to March, official figures showed Thursday, as rising domestic demand and a boost in exports kept it on the recovery path. Economy Minister Motohisa Furukawa said the economy, hit hard by last year’s quake-tsunami disaster and a surging…

Spain falls back into recession: official data

Spain fell into recession in the first quarter of 2012 with a decline of 0.3 percent in gross domestic product (GDP), the same rate of contraction recorded late last year, official data showed on Thursday. Final figures released by the the National Statistics Institute (INE) confirmed preliminary data issued on…

Mladic war crimes trial suspended ‘indefinitely’

The Yugoslav war crimes court on Thursday adjourned the trial of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, just a day after it opened, because of “irregularities” by prosecutors. “The hearing is adjourned sine die,” presiding judge Alphons Orie said. “(The court) has decided to suspend the start of the…

Limbless Frenchman swims from New Guinea to Indonesia

A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an accident braved strong winds and currents to swim from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia Thursday, in the first stretch of a mission to swim between five continents. Philippe Croizon, 43, who uses prosthetic limbs with flippers attached, took seven and a half…

New French government to take a pay cut

France’s new government, under Socialist President Francois Hollande, gets down to work Thursday with the first order of business on their agenda being a pay cut for themselves. Hollande unveiled a government of mainly moderate Socialists and longtime allies Wednesday as his new prime minister vowed to work quickly to…

North Korea moving ahead on reactor: pictures

WASHINGTON — North Korea appears to be moving ahead with the building of a light-water reactor that could be used to support its nuclear weapons program, according to satellite images released Wednesday. The signs of progress come amid fears that the secretive communist state is planning a new nuclear test,…

Watchdog blasts ‘excessive’ policing at G20 Toronto summit

OTTAWA — Canadian police used “excessive force,” ignored civil rights and made “unlawful” mass arrests in cracking down on unruly protests at a G20 summit in Toronto two years ago, a watchdog said Wednesday. Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, in a scathing 300-page…

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