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16 killed in two attacks in southern Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two attacks just hours apart killed 16 people and wounded more than 20 others on Wednesday in the insurgency-wracked southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 10 civilians and two policemen in the first attack at a bazaar, while an…

Escaped dissident warns of China role in world politics

WASHINGTON — A prominent Chinese dissident who fled last week to the United States cautioned Wednesday over Beijing’s influence in the world, saying that the communist state was bent on exporting its model. Yu Jie, a writer who defiantly published a critical biography of Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010 in…

Woman ‘sold into slavery’ returns to Taiwan

AIPEI — A Taiwanese woman who was allegedly sold into “slavery” as a child returned from the United States to the island Wednesday for a much-anticipated family reunion, officials and media said. Television images showed the woman, in her 20s and who identified herself as “Isabel”, arriving at the northern…

IMF seeks $500 bn more as euro crisis rages

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it needs up to $500 billion more to pad its war chest as the European debt crisisincreasingly threatens the global economy. With several European countries veering on recession and Greece on the brink of default, the IMF said it lacks the resources to be the planet’s lender…

Panetta: U.S. prepared for Hormuz Strait action

The United States is “fully prepared” for any confrontation with Iran over the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but hopes a dispute would be resolved peacefully, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday. “We obviously always continue to make preparations to be prepared for any contingency, but we are not making any special steps… because we’re fully…

‘Nuckin Futs’ snack gets go ahead in Australia

MELBOURNE — A snack called “Nuckin Futs” has got the green light to be sold in Australia after regulators accepted the profanity it parodies was part of everyday speech, according to a report. The Trade Marks Examiner initially ruled that the name was inappropriate and rejected a trademark application, the…

Italian cruise captain refused orders to reboard ship

The captain of the cruise ship that ran aground and sank off the Italian coast refused to reboard the doomed vessel after he abandoned it, audio recordings revealed. The Costa Concordia hit rocks and capsized on late Friday, leaving at least 11 dead. Capt. Francesco Schettino allegedly abandoned the ship…

Obama decries Syria violence

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Tuesday decried continued and “unacceptable” levels of violence in Syria and pledged to redouble international efforts to force President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Obama also thanked King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office for being the first Arab leader to…

Ancient Greek sites could soon be available for rent

ATHENS — Available for rent: The Acropolis. In a move bound to leave many Greeks and scholars aghast, Greece’s culture ministry said Tuesday it will open up some of the debt-stricken country’s most-cherished archaeological sites to advertising firms and other ventures. The ministry says the move is a common-sense way…

Italy captain denies abandoning ship as toll rises to 11

The captain of the doomed Italian cruise liner denied Tuesday he had abandoned ship, as rescue divers found another five bodies in the wreckage, bringing the death toll to 11. A dramatic coastguard recording of ship-to-shore communications as the disaster unfolded showed that captain Francesco Schettinoignored an order to return to…

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