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Millions of flood victims still at risk in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD — A feeble international response to Pakistan’s second major flooding crisis in two years has left millions of people at serious risk of malnutrition and disease, aid groups warned Thursday. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), a network of the 41 largest international charities in the country, called on the…

China’s Xi meets skeptical U.S. lawmakers

WASHINGTON — China’s leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Wednesday confronted US lawmakers skeptical about Beijing’s pledges to improve its rights record, ease its grip on the yuan and boost military cooperation. Xi, the vice president expected to assume the mantle of power next year in Beijing, made the rounds on Capitol…

U.S. says Syrian referendum plan is ‘laughable’

WASHINGTON — The United States Wednesday dismissed Syria’s call for a referendum on a new constitution, which critics see as a move designed to ease global outrage over the government’s bloody crackdown. “It’s actually quite laughable — it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney…

France probes Nazi-themed party attended by Tory lawmaker

GRENOBLE, France — French prosecutors said Wednesday they had opened a formal probe into a Nazi-themed party attended by a British Conservative MP that led to him losing his post as a parliamentary aide. The MP, Aidan Burley, has repeatedly apologised for the incidents during a drunken night out by…

European Union, U.S. sign organic food deal

NUREMBERG, Germany — Food products classified as organic in the European Union or the United States can be sold as such in either region after a deal struck on Wednesday between the two major trading blocs. The agreement, signed in the southern city of Nuremberg between top officials from both…

Assad sets Syria vote to end Baath rule

DAMASCUS — Syria’s president decreed a vote this month on a new constitution that would effectively end nearly 50 years of single party rule, state media said, as troops reportedly stormed centres of dissent. A day after flatly rejecting UN allegations of crimes against humanity, Bashar al-Assad called the ballot…

Uganda raids gay rights workshop

A Ugandan minister Tuesday raided and shut down a workshop run by homosexual rights activists in Entebbe, the minister and Amnesty International said, days after a draconian anti-gay bill was reintroduced. The London-based rights watchdog said in a statement that Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo, who is also a priest, raided the…

Pakistani at Guantanamo charged in terror attacks

A Pakistani held at Guantanamo Bay since 2006 has been charged with assisting with a number of Al-Qaeda terror plots under the supervision of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Majid Shoukat Khan, who lived in the United States from 1996 to 2002 before returning to his native Pakistan, stands accused of helping to plan attacks…

Chinese deer and ram celebrate Valentine’s wedding

A Chinese zoo held a Valentine’s Day wedding for a male sheep and a female deer whose unconventional relationship has captured the public imagination, state media reported. Visitors have flooded to the wildlife park in the southwestern province of Yunnan to see the sheep, whose Chinese nameChangmao means long hair, and the deer, Chunzi (pure), after zookeepers revealed…

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…

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