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Spaniards ring in new year of more austerity

MADRID — Luis Zorrilla wants to celebrate the New Year and forget, at least for a day, Spain’s economic crisis and government spending cuts that have triggered the “indignant” protest movement. “Today is a day to forget the crisis,” says Zorrilla, a teacher, laughing as he gets ready to eat…

Bahrain teenager dies ‘as police crush protest’

DUBAI — Bahraini police fired tear gas grenades to disperse protesters, killing a Shiite protester in the Sunni-ruled country where tensions have been running high, the opposition said on Sunday. Meanwhile the newly-appointed police chief said 500 officers would be recruited across the country, including Shiites, to help bolster community…

Missing China dissident ‘held in Xinjiang’

SHANGHAI — Prominent Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who first disappeared into police custody nearly two years ago, has been imprisoned in the far western region of Xinjiang, his brother said on Sunday. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have called on Beijing to release…

Iran defiant as U.S. unleashes new sanctions

Iran defiantly announced on Sunday that it had tested a new missile and made an advance in its nuclear programme after the United States unleashed extra sanctions that sent its currency to a record low. The developments raised the stakes in a budding confrontation between the longtime foes, as concerns mounted…

India repairs damage after cyclone kills 42

Relief operations were under way in south India on Sunday as residents struggled to repair damaged homes and property after a cyclone that claimed 42 lives. Cyclone Thane, packing winds of up to 140 kilometres (85 miles) an hour, struck the east coast on Friday between Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu and the…

Aum ‘doomsday’ cult fugitive surrenders after 17 years on the run

A former member of Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult, which was responsible for the 1995 nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway, was arrested Sunday after almost 17 years on the run, police said. Makoto Hirata, 46, turned himself into a police station in central Tokyo just 10 minutes before…

North Koreans urged to defend Jong-Un ‘unto death’

North Korea urged its people Sunday to defend new leader Kim Jong-Un to the death and vowed an all-out push for prosperity, in a New Year state newspaper editorial setting out policy goals. “The whole party, the entire army and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they…

Iran test fires missile during Hormuz war games

Iran successfully test fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile on Sunday during navy war games taking place near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a spokesman for the manoeuvres said, according to the official IRNA news agency. “This medium-range surface-to-air missile is equipped with the latest technology to combat radar-evading targets and…

Israeli officials slam Holocaust symbols at protest

Israeli officials on Sunday slammed ultra-Orthodox protesters who donned symbols of the Holocaust, including yellow stars, at a demonstration against “media attacks” on their religious community. “It’s shocking and terrifying,” Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told public radio on Sunday, a day after hundreds gathered to protest “incitement against the…

UPDATED: Powerful quake rocks Japan on New Year’s day

A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Tokyo Sunday as Emperor Akihito led Japan’s New Year celebrations by urging people to work together in rebuilding the nation from March’s quake-tsunami disaster. The tremor struck at 2:28pm (0528 GMT) with its focus deep at about 370 kilometres (230 miles), Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.…

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