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Polio breakthrough: India marks disease-free year

NEW DELHI — India marked a year since its last new case of polio Friday, a major milestone in a country once considered the epicentre of the disease and one that gives hope the scourge can be eradicated worldwide. There were 150,000 cases of the highly contagious virus in India…

U.S. has ‘some ideas’ who killed Iran scientist: Panetta

WASHINGTON — Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said Thursday that US officials had “some ideas” who was behind the assassination of a nuclear scientist in Tehran this week, but insisted the United States was not involved. During a meeting with soldiers at a Texas military base, Panetta said the United States…

Chinese dissident flees to U.S.

WASHINGTON — A Chinese dissident who wrote a critical book about Premier Wen Jiabao has fled into exile in the United States, saying Thursday that he faced physical abuse and restrictions on publishing. Yu Jie, who in 2010 published in Hong Kong the book “Wen Jiabao: China’s Best Actor” despite…

Italian shock photographer launches penis calendar

FLORENCE, Italy — Italian shock photographer Oliviero Toscani has done it again — this time with a calendar featuring 12 penis close-ups in an ad for a group of companies that make naturally-tanned leather. The flamboyant photographer launched the calendar at an event in Florence also attended by famously well-endowed…

Opium production soars in Afghanistan: UN

VIENNA — Production of opium and the illicit crop’s value soared in Afghanistan last year, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday. According to the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, farmer income derived from Afghanistan’s opium crop in 2011 was $1.4 billion (1.09 billion euros), representing nine…

Activists hurl stink bombs, paint at Japan whalers

Environmental activists threw paint and foul smelling acid at whaling ships in the Antarctic ocean in a fresh bid to halt the annual hunt, Japanese authorities said Thursday. The Institute of Cetacean Research, a quasi-public body that runs Japan’s whaling programmes, said members of militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd threw…

Taliban back peace talks but warn no surrender

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents warned Thursday that their support for peace talks did not mean they had surrendered in the 10-year war against US-led coalition forces. The comment came as the United States announced that it would send a senior official to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai next week to see…

Top Greek union calls austerity strike

Greece’s main union on Thursday called for a strike in Athens next week as the government upped pressure on labour unions to accept wage cuts to avert bankruptcy. The GSEE union said Tuesday’s strike would send a “strong message” to the government, employers and Greece’s institutional creditors “who are planning…

Spaniards to launch gay retirement homes

Spanish gays and lesbians are uniting to build Spain’s first homosexual retirement residence, driven away from traditional homes by prejudices that linger since the decades of dictatorship. Gays who say they must return to the closet at risk of being isolated and insulted when they enter a care home have…

Furious Iran wants action over scientist’s killing

The assassination of one of Iran’s nuclear scientists sparked deep fury in Tehran on Thursday against prime suspect Israel and against the United States, which said it had nothing to do with the murder. Some hardline newspapers even called for retaliatory action, with one, Keyhan, saying in an editorial that…

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