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Syria ‘setting border mines to stop refugee flight’

Syria has planted landmines near its border with Turkey along routes used by refugees fleeing the regime’s deadly crackdown on dissent, the Turkish deputy prime minister said on Thursday. “The Syrian administration has been planting mines, taking measures not to allow refugees to flee to the other side of the…

Pope commissions custom-blended eau de cologne

By Tom Kington– Fragrance, which mixes hints of lime tree, verbena and grass, was concocted by Italian boutique perfume maker Silvana Casoli He is picky about his robes and his red shoes are tailor-made, but Pope Benedict has taken the meaning of bespoke to a whole new level by ordering…

Dissidents occupy Cuba church to press pope on change

HAVANA — With a papal visit looming, dissidents occupied a Catholic church here in a bold show of activism, demanding Pope Benedict XVI press for political freedom in Cuba, religious and dissident sources said Wednesday. Cuba’s Catholic church quickly slammed the move as “illegitimate and irresponsible.” “This is a coordinated,…

Secret Assad emails lift lid on life of leader’s inner circle

By Robert Booth Messages show Bashar al-Assad took advice from Iran • Leader made light of promised reforms• Wife spent thousands on jewellery and furniture Bashar al-Assad took advice from Iran on how to handle the uprising against his rule, according to a cache of what appear to be several…

Autistic London teen wins damages over police restraint

An autistic teenager with epilepsy won damages on Wednesday from the Metropolitan Police after he was forced into handcuffs and leg restraints during a school trip in what the High Court ruled was an “assault”. Police used “wholly inappropriate” restraint in their “over-hasty and ill-informed” response after the young man…

Suspected suicide bomb attack at Afghan air force base during Panetta visit

A member of NATO-led forces was injured in an “incident” as US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a military base in Afghanistan Wednesday, the military said. “At no point was the secretary or anyone on the aircraft in any danger from this incident,” the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)…

Congolese warlord guilty in war crimes court for conscripting children into his rebel army

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday convicted Congolese militia chief Thomas Lubanga of war crimes for conscripting children into his rebel army, the tribunal’s first ever verdict. Lubanga, 51, was found guilty in The Hague of abducting children as young as 11 and forcing them to fight and commit atrocities…

Moroccan girl commits suicide after being forced to marry her rapist

A 16-year-old Moroccan girl has reportedly killed herself after a judge ordered her to marry the man that raped her. The teen, known only as Amina, ate rat poison after the Tangier judge ruled that her 26-year-old rapist could marry her instead of going to jail, according to the Moroccan…

Pentagon chief laments Koran burning, U.S. shooting

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday called the Koranburning and killing of 16 Afghans “deeply troubling” incidents that had challenged the war effort in Afghanistan. Visiting Afghanistan just days after a shooting spree by a US soldier, he insisted that NATO and Afghan forces were making progress and had to stay focused on…

Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wants the Taliban to de-stress

An Indian Hindu guru may be the last emissary the Taliban expect, but Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would love to teach inner peace to the world’s most notorious Islamist insurgents. Visiting Pakistan for the first time in eight years, he basks in the diplomatic rapprochement that made the trip possible…

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