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Thai court jails U.S. citizen for royal insult

A court in Thailand on Thursday jailed a Thai-born American for two-and-a-half years for defaming the monarchy — a sentence that the United States criticised as “severe”. The conviction of Joe Wichai Commart Gordon — who appeared in court in shackles — is the latest in a series of cases…

Defiant Russia opposition vows mass protest

Russia’s opposition on Thursday defiantly vowed to stage a mass protest in Moscow at the weekend contesting the results of elections, despite warnings from the authorities to scale down the event. Around 1,000 people have been arrested in three days of demonstrations protesting what they say was mass fraud in…

Banks urged to rein in excessive bonuses

LONDON — Banks, including those bailed out at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, are under intense pressure to curb annual bonuses in light of the worsening economic climate. The so-called bonus season for workers in the City traditionally sees traders and banks’ senior executives handed bumper pay awards…

U.S. calls for Internet freedom amid India plan

WASHINGTON — The United States called for freedom of expression on the Internet after the India said it planned to find ways to ban offensive content before it is posted. India vowed to pursue the restrictions after major Internet firms such as Facebook and Google — nearly all of them…

Kadhafi family tried to escape to Mexico: official

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities said Wednesday they foiled an audacious bid by one of toppled Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s sons to illegally smuggle himself and family into the country as the regime cracked. Government Secretary Alejandro Poire said intelligence officials uncovered an elaborate plan, at the height of pro-democracy…

Ecologists fume as Brazil Senate OKs forestry reform

BRASILIA — The Brazilian Senate has passed a forestry reform bill which is backed by the country’s powerful agribusiness sector but opposed by environmentalists who see it as a threat to preservation of the Amazon. The legislation, which received 59 votes in favor and seven against in an overnight vote,…

UK’s top court to make Assange ruling by Christmas

LONDON — The Supreme Court will decide by December 25 whether to hear an appeal by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange against his extradition to Sweden, a court spokeswoman said Wednesday. On Monday judges at the High Court in London said that his fight against deportation to face rape allegations in…

Clinton: Biological attacks ‘are serious security challenge’

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought on Wednesday to rally international efforts against the threat of a biological attack, saying the warning signs were “too serious to ignore”. Clinton spoke at a meeting on the Biological Weapons Convention, a decades-old ban on bio-weapons currently under review at a three-week conference in…

U.S. backs euro ahead of crunch summit

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner voiced confidence on Wednesday that the European Union will find a way out of its debt crisis when he met eurozone leaders ahead of a crucial EU summit inBrussels. “I assessed how important it is for the US and countries around the world that Europe succeed,” Geithner…

Afghan attacks raise fears of sectarian violence

Deadly blasts at Afghan shrines that left 59 people dead on Shiite Muslims’ holiest day have raised fears the war-weary nation now faces the prospect of an eruption of Iraq-style sectarian violence. The Afghan Taliban has denied responsibility for the blasts in Kabuland the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, and leading Shiites inAfghanistan have pointed the finger…

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