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Former Scientologist youth decries Australian ‘forced labor camp’

An Australian man who spent much of his childhood in a facility run by the Church of Scientology told the Seven Network’s Today Tonight that conditions in the compound were inhumane and horrifying. Shane Kelsey alleged that children kept at the facility — a Rehabilitation Project Force — were separated…

Syrian activists resort to pigeons to communicate

BEIRUT — Cut off by a relentless barrage of government shelling, activists in the besieged Syrian city of Homs have reverted to the age-old practice of using carrier pigeons to communicate with each other. “From the activists in Old Homs (district) to those in Baba Amr, please tell us what…

Palestinian hunger striker to petition top Israel court

JERUSALEM — The lawyer for an interned Palestinian who has been on hunger strike for 59 days said on Tuesday that he would ask Israel’s supreme court to overturn a military order imprisoning his client without trial. Attorney Jawad Bulus said he would file an urgent request to the Jewish…

Graffiti star’s invisible secret found 24 years after death

LONDON — Experts at London’s Sotheby’s auction house on Tuesday revealed they had discovered an invisible ink signature made by US graffiti icon Jean-Michel Basquiat on his painting “Orange Sports Figure”. The work will be the top lot in Wednesday’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale and had been expected to sell…

Oliver Stone’s son converts to Islam in Iran

TEHRAN — US filmmaker Sean Stone, son of Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone, converted to Islam on Tuesday in Iran, where he is making a documentary, he told AFP. “The conversion to Islam is not abandoning Christianity or Judaism, which I was born with. It means I have accepted Mohammad and…

Iranian bomber misses, blows off own leg

An Iranian man was severely maimed in Thailand on Tuesday after attempting to attack police with a bomb, only to have it explode in front of him, blowing off one of his legs. An initial explosion detonated in the home he was renting, which attracted police attention. He then reportedly…

Valentine’s Day finds a niche in Islamic Iran

Iran may reject Western influences, but Valentine’s Day has become a growing phenomenon thanks to the romantically minded youth of the Islamic state’s affluent classes. Although the ruling clerics and hardline politicians have been waging a campaign against what they call “decadent” cultural imports, the Christian day dedicated to amorous displays…

Aussie fined for ‘mooning’ queen

A man was Tuesday slapped with a Aus$750 (US$803) fine for flashing his buttocks at Queen Elizabeth II during her visit toAustralia last year — and said he would do it again. Sydney barman Liam Warriner, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of public nuisance during the 85-year-old monarch’s tour of theQueensland capital Brisbane in October. A…

Tibetan monk sets himself on fire in China: groups

BEIJING — A teenage monk set himself on fire to protest China’s rule in the nation’s southwest, exile groups said Tuesday, as police in Washington arrested Tibet activists during a visit by China’s vice president. The 19-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, identified as Lobsang Gyatso, set himself ablaze on Monday in…

China defence budget to double over 5 years

SINGAPORE — China’s defence budget will double between 2011 and 2015 and outstrip the combined spending of all other key defence markets in the Asia-Pacific region, global research group IHS said on Tuesday. China’s defence budget stood at $119.8 billion last year and will rise to $238.2 billion in 2015,…

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