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UN sends aid chief to Syria

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos headed for Syria on Wednesday to urge the regime to allow aid into battered protest cities, as US President Barack Obama insisted military intervention would be a “mistake”. A Chinese envoy sent to discuss ways to end the bloodshed in Syria, meanwhile, was to discuss a six-point peace plan with Foreign Minister…

Stolen wages offer to Aborigines ‘heartless’

A rich Australian state’s plan to pay up to Aus$2,000 (US$2,106) to Aboriginal people whose wages were kept from them for decades has been criticised as a “cruel and heartless offer”. Western Australia, a vast and resource-rich state riding a lucrative mining boom, has announced the payments for the “stolen…

Sarkozy says ‘we have too many foreigners’ in France

President Nicolas Sarkozy declared on Tuesday that there are too many immigrants in France, as the country’s presidential election campaign became caught up in issues of religion and identity. Defending a re-election campaign promise to cut the number of new arrivals in half, Sarkozy bluntly declared that France’s attempts to…

Head of French breast implant firm jailed

MARSEILLE — The founder of the French breast implant company at the heart of a global health scare was jailed after failing to pay his bail, a source said. Jean-Claude Mas, 72, was jailed at Marseille’s Baumette prison, the source said, requesting anonymity. His lawyer could not be contacted for…

IKEA unions meet in Turkey for global alliance

ISTANBUL — IKEA trade union leaders from around the world met in Istanbul on Tuesday to launch a global alliance to standardise labour practices in every store in the Swedish furniture chain. “We want the good practices applied to IKEA workers in many countries to be implemented all over the…

Indonesia to ban female MPs from wearing miniskirts

JAKARTA — Women’s groups expressed outrage Tuesday after Indonesia’s parliament said it would draft rules banning female lawmakers from wearing “provocative” clothing such as miniskirts to work and claimed such dress invited rape. “We know there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently, and this…

Human rights’ group warns of crime wave in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast should take urgent steps to disarm former rebels involved in rising violent crime in and around the central town of Bouake, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday. Since early December, at least 22 people have been murdered in the area during attacks on passengers travelling on…

Netanyahu warns Iran on high-profile U.S. visit

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday winds up a high-profile US visit focused on Iran’s perceived nuclear threat after warning that his country would not live in the “shadow of annihilation.” Netanyahu was to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and visit the US Congress a day after keenly-watched talks withPresident Barack…

Syria presses assaults ahead of Annan peace bid

Syrian forces pursued armed rebels on Tuesday in a number of flashpoint areas ahead of a peace mission by UN-Arab League envoyKofi Annan, as a top US senator called for air strikes to protect civilians. Soldiers in tanks and armoured carriers stormed the town of Herak in the southern province…

Thousands flee Australian town as flood fears grow

SYDNEY — More than 8,000 people fled their homes in Australia’s flood-hit southeast Tuesday as fears grew that a levee holding back the swollen Murrumbidgee River would fail. Floods have hit three eastern states this week, sweeping two men to their deaths after they attempted to cross waterways in cars…

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