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French nuclear reactor shut down after fires

RENNES, France — A French nuclear reactor shut down automatically Thursday after two small fires at the installation in the north of the country that firefighters quickly extinguished, officials said. EDF, the operator of the power plant in Penly on the English Channel near the port of Dieppe, said the…

British gangster on the lam since last July nabbed in Amsterdam

Dutch police have recaptured one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives after a late-night raid on a luxury Amsterdam apartment, detectives in the Netherlands and Britain said Thursday. A specialist squad pounced on the plush penthouse in Amsterdam-Zuidoost in the southeast of the city and arrested 26-year-old Kirk Bradley at 11:30pm…

Bangladeshi matchmaker celebrates 40 years in the business

Kazi Ashraf Hossain’s work colleagues always told him he had a talent for getting couples together, so when he was forced to quit his job as a crane operator, he set up as a matchmaker. Nearly 40 years later, Hossain — known by his nickname “Pakhi Bhai” (Bird Brother) —…

Half of Vietnamese companies admit they ‘bribe officials’

Nearly 50 percent of Vietnamese companies admit to bribing officials in order to bid on contracts, a new survey shows, but experts say the real figure could be far higher. About 80 percent of businesses in the communist country reported that corruption had hurt their operations, according to a Vietnam…

East German fashion designer who fled West returns with stunning vintage collection

When Josefine Edle von Krepl fled East Berlin just before the Wall fell in 1989, she managed to save her vast hoard of vintage clothing by wrapping her china and glassware in it. The fashion designer, journalist and mother-of-two was allowed to take many of her belongings with her to…

Experts say NATO intervention in Libya led to chaos, fighting in Mali

When Western forces helped topple Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi they forced hundreds of well-armed Tuareg fighters to flee home to Mali, tipping another fragile African state into chaos, experts say. And for some observers, the Western powers’ role in helping trigger the crisis now gives them a responsibility to help try…

Zimbabwe nationalizes foreign mining firms that failed local equity requirements

Zimbabwe said on Thursday it had taken over majority shares from foreign mining firms which had not sold 51 percent of their equity to black Zimbabweans, without specifying which or how many firms were affected. “All mining companies that have not complied, should note that 51 percent of their shareholding…

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika unconscious after heart attack

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, 78, was unconscious in hospital Thursday after suffering a heart attack, a medical source said. “He had a cardiac arrest, he is still unconscious since 9:00 am (0700 GMT),” a senior official at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe said on condition of anonymity. Mutharika, a…

Saudi Arabia rules out sending women athletes to London

The head of the Saudi Olympic Committee has ruled out sending women athletes from the ultra-conservative kingdom to the London Olympics this summer, local dailies reported on Thursday. Prince Nawaf bin Faisal said, however, that Saudi women taking part on their own are free to do so and the kingdom’s Olympic authority would “only help in ensuring…

Blasts temporarily shut down Iraq-Turkey pipeline

Overnight blasts in southeastern Turkey on Thursday temporarily shut down a pipeline pumping oil from Iraq, with Kurdish rebels suspected to be behind the explosions, authorities said. Three blasts hit the section of the pipeline running near the border city of Idil in the Sirnak province, sparking a fire, said a statement by the Sirnak regional…

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