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Writer says will not pursue Strauss-Kahn in civil case

PARIS (Reuters) – A writer who accused former IMF chiefDominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape said Wednesday she would not pursue a civil case against him after French prosecutorsdropped a criminal investigation into her allegations last week. Tristane Banon, who accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in a Paris flat where she went to interview him…

First 200 French soldiers to leave Afghanistan

The first 200 French soldiers were due to leave Afghanistan on Wednesday, kickstarting troop withdrawals announced three months ago by Paris as part of NATO plans to wind down its combat mission by 2014. A further 200 French soldiers are due to return home before Christmas, with another 600 leaving in 2012, ahead of a full…

New book says van Gogh’s death was no suicide

Did Vincent van Gogh, one of the world’s greatest artists despite having sold just one painting in his short and tortured lifetime, commit suicide in 1890 in a wheat field in northern France? Two American authors are now challenging the theory that the enigmatic post-Impressionist killed himself aged 37, saying…

Greece strike begins with thousands on streets

More than 60,000 protesters marched in Greek cities on Wednesday, police said, as a two-day general strike began against a new austerity bill demanded by Greece’s international creditors to avert bankruptcy. The highest turnout was in Athens where over 52,000 people converged on central Syntagma Square, where parliament is located, in separate protests organised by…

India growth dampened by global ‘clouds’: minister

India’s growth will be less than expected as the global financial crisisand a string of interest rate hikes slows Asia’s third-biggest economy, the country’s finance minister said on Wednesday. “Dark clouds have gathered in the global scenario, casting a shadow on us,” Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi, giving his annual assessment of India’s economic…

Canada freezes assets of five Iranians over alleged plot

OTTAWA — Following in the footsteps of the United States and Britain, Canada has frozen the assets of five Iranian nationals accused by Washington of plotting to kill a Saudi ambassador, officials said Tuesday. “In response to credible allegations of the Iranian regime’s involvement in an assassination plot last week,…

Bolivian native protest march nears La Paz

LA PAZ — Hundreds of Bolivian Indians are winding up a weeks-long march against government plans to destroy part of an Amazon nature refuge to build a highway, and now are just one day’s walk from La Paz, the group’s leaders said Tuesday. The protesters, who left the northern city…

U.S. voices ‘concerns’ over some freed Palestinians

WASHINGTON — The United States has voiced “concerns” to Israel over some of the 477 Palestinian prisoners freed by the Jewish state on Tuesday as part of a deal to win the release of a captured Israeli soldier. “We have looked at some of these individuals and we’ve communicated our…

Standard and Poor’s downgrades Egypt’s rating

PARIS — Standard and Poor’s downgraded Egypt’s rating on Tuesday to BB-, citing weak prospects for public finances and rising risks to macroeconomic stability during the nation’s political transition. The agency lowered its long-term foreign-currency sovereign credit rating to BB- from BB and said that outlook remains negative. “The downgrade…

U.N. report: Iran secretly executing hundreds of prisoners

UNITED NATIONS — Iran’s authoritarian regime has been secretly executing hundreds of prisoners, according to a new UN report detailing growing rights abuses in the Islamic republic. The mysterious executions at Vakilabad prison in Mashhad in eastern Iran were highlighted in a report compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the new UN…

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