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Death toll from India toxic liquor rises to 170

The death toll from a mass poisoning in eastern India caused by toxic home-brewed alcohol climbed to 170 Friday, as police made more arrests and destroyed dozens of illegal distilleries. “We now have 170 confirmed dead,” Shyamapada Basak, health services director of West Bengal state told AFP. He added that…

China sends campaigning rights lawyer back to jail

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has sent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng back to jail, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday, ending his probation in what was the first official account of his whereabouts in the last year. Gao, however, appears never to have escaped secretive confinement in the first…

Russia says seized radioactive material en route to Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian customs service said on Friday it had seized radioactive material found in the luggage of a passenger bound for Tehran at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport. The service said in a statement that tests showed the material was a radioactive isotope which could be obtained only…

Thai ‘ladyboy’ flight attendants take to the skies

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai transsexual ladyboys are taking to the air as flight attendants for a new airline, a move that some said could be a key step towards still broader acceptance in a nation where they are already unusually visible. Known as “katoeys” or “ladyboys,” transgenders and transsexuals hold…

Army says coup memo attempt to hurt Pakistan: reports

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s army chief has said a memo accusing the military of plotting a coup, which could damage the unpopular president and led to the resignation of Islamabad’s ambassador to Washington, was an attempt to hurt national security, newspapers said. General Ashfaq Kayani, arguably the most powerful man…

Pakistan insists air strikes were deliberate

WASHINGTON — Pakistan stood firm Thursday in charging that US-led forces deliberately carried out air strikes that killed 24 soldiers and led Islamabad to shut critical NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s embassy in Washington invited reporters to a briefing at which officials showed images and maps that they said…

Bloody, costly Iraq war finally ends with lowering of U.S. flag

As President Barack Obama promised, the war in Iraq has finally come to an end. Standing in front of hundreds of soldiers on Thursday morning, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called a formal close to the conflict that’s lasted 8 years, 9 months, at a cost of more than $1…

French ex-president Chirac convicted in graft trial

PARIS (Reuters) – A judge found former French president Jacques Chirac guilty on Thursday of misusing public funds, making him the country’s first head of state to be convicted since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain in 1945. Chirac, 79, was absent from the court as the judge declared him guilty…

Toxic liquor kills 126 in eastern India

A batch of home-brewed liquor thought to have been laced with the highly toxic chemical methanol has killed 126 people in eastern India, an official told AFP on Thursday. Hospitals near the impoverished district 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of West Bengal state capital Kolkata have been overwhelmed by victims,…

Jewish settlers set fire to mosque, defy Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – People thought to be Jewish settlers set fire to a mosque, damaging its interior, in the West Bank on Thursday after Israeli forces tore down structures in a settler-outpost built without government approval. The vandalism appeared to be the latest act of defiance by militant settlers whom…

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