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Germany’s president resigns in blow to Merkel

Germany’s president resigned Friday after a string of scandals, handing Chancellor Angela Merkel a political headache at home as she battles to lead Europe from its debt crisis. “I am … today stepping down from the office of federal president to free up the way quickly for a successor,” Christian…

Western students lag Asians by three years: study

Western schoolchildren are up to three years behind those in China’s Shanghai and success in Asian education is not just the product of pushy “tiger” parents, an Australian report released Friday said. The study by independent think-tank The Grattan Institute said East Asia was the centre of high performance in…

Thousands stranded as Australian airline goes bust

SYDNEY — Budget carrier Air Australia collapsed Friday, stranding thousands of passengers as its domestic flights and international services to Honolulu, Bali and Phuket were all grounded. The news came a day after embattled Australian flagcarrier Qantas said it was slashing at least 500 jobs, cutting costs and closing two…

Libya marks revolution day as leader issues warning

BENGHAZI, Libya — Libya began celebrating on Friday the first anniversary of the uprising against Moamer Kadhafi, with fireworks and slogans, even as its new leader vowed to act firmly against further instability. The former rebels who, backed by NATO, toppled Kadhafi last year set up fresh check-points in the…

Hezbollah denies role in Israel diplomat attacks

BEIRUT — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday denied his Lebanese militant party had any role in a series of attacks on Israeli diplomats. “Regarding the explosions that took place in India, Georgia and Thailand, I can tell you categorically that Hezbollah has nothing to do” with them, he said…

Syria arrests top blogger, rights activist: lawyer

BEIRUT — Security forces on Thursday arrested blogger Razan Ghazzawi, symbol of the 11-month uprising in Syria, along with rights activist Mazen Darwish and 12 others, opposition figures said. Human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni said Ghazzawi, 31, was arrested in an early afternoon raid on the Syrian Centre for Media…

Rio giving out 3 million free condoms during Carnival

The government of Rio de Janeiro state will distribute more than three million condoms free of charge during Brazil’s five-day carnival that begins Friday. State health officials said their “using a condom rates 10 in harmony” campaign aims to prevent AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, particularly among…

Netanyahu blasts Iran over nuclear program

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Thursday of being the most irresponsible country in the world and said sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme “haven’t worked.” “Iran has been exposed for being the most irresponsible power on earth today. The one that exports terror with abandon is…

War on drugs must be Afghan top priority: UN chief

UN chief Ban Ki-moon Thursday urged Afghanistan to make fighting drug trafficking a priority as opium harvests soar in the world’s top producer, and said the world must help in the effort. “Above all, the Afghan government must prioritise the issue of narcotics,” Ban said in his opening address in…

Libya struggles to revive economy

Oil exports are approaching pre-conflict levels and international sanctions have been lifted, but four months after fighting ended, experts warn that Libya’s financial situation remains fragile. The new leadership has inherited an economy in disarray, plagued by the corruption and mood swings of deposed ruler Moamer Kadhafi and his clan,…

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