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A third of south Asians ‘made to pay bribes’ to officials

More than one in three south Asians say they were forced to bribe officials in the last year, mainly for services they were legally entitled to, an international anti-graft watchdog said Thursday. A survey released by Berlin-based Transparency International in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu showed bribery has become so endemic…

Russia’s Medvedev tries to appease protesters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Dmitry Medvedev called on Thursday for comprehensive reform of Russia’s political system to try to appease protesters staging the biggest demonstrations since Vladimir Putin rose to power 12 years ago. In his last state of the nation address to parliament as president, Medvedev outlined plans that…

North Korea’s military to share power with Kim’s heir

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea will shift to collective rule from a strongman dictatorship after last week’s death of Kim Jong-il, although his untested young son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said. The source added that the…

Bombs kill 57 as Iraq mired in political crisis

A wave of attacks in Baghdad Thursday killed 57 people as Iraq faced a political crisis, with its vice president accused of running death squads and the premier warning he could break off power-sharing. The apparently coordinated blasts and the murder of a family-of-five in restive Diyala province were the…

Pakistan Prime Minister fears ouster

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government, giving his most public indication yet that he fears being ousted from power. He spoke as the Supreme Court met again to decide whether to order a formal inquiry into a secret memo,…

Medvedev to vow reform in ‘farewell’ address

President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday is expected to vow a revamped reform drive in Russia after protests rattled the authorities, in his final annual address to the nation as head of state. Medvedev will at 0800 GMT address the Federal Assembly made up of both houses of parliament, a speech…

Mexicans flood home for Christmas, wary of crime

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans have been clogging crossings at the US-Mexico border, braving bandits and corrupt authorities in a perilous migration south to be home for Christmas. This year, travelers are taking greater precautions to avoid being robbed or kidnapped as they…

U.S. denies interfering in Egyptian affairs

WASHINGTON — The United States Wednesday rejected accusations that it was interfering in Egyptian affairs, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments provoked an angry response from Cairo. “We are going to speak out for the human rights of people around the world. We do not consider that interference,”…

Turkey to launch sanctions against France over genocide bill

ANKARA — Ankara will announce sanctions against Paris, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday on the eve of a debate in the French parliament on a law criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide by Turkish forces. “Tomorrow probably I will announce what we will do at the first…

Canadian charity throws doomed bunnies a lifeline

(Reuters) – A Canadian charity, appropriately named EARS, is offering to help a Rocky Mountain town deal with its bunny problem, promising to neuter and spay the unwanted rabbits rather than let the city carry out its trap-and-cull proposal. The estimated 2,000 rabbits of Canmore, Alberta, are the black, white and brown descendents of pets released…

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