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Ex-general claims presidency in Guatemala

Retired general Otto Perez Molina claimed victory in Guatemala’s presidential runoff election, calling for unity in the desperately poor and violent Central American nation. “I thank all Guatemalans who trusted in me,” the white-haired ex-general said on local radio Sonora, as almost 90 percent of votes gave him a lead…

Iran mastered critical steps to build nuke: report

The Iranian government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon after receiving assistance from foreign scientists, The Washington Post reported. Citing unnamed Western diplomats and nuclear experts familiar with new intelligence to be released to the United Nations, the newspaper said a former Soviet weapons scientist…

Parties agree on early Greek elections date

The two main Greek political parties have agreed on February 19 as the best date for early elections in the debt-strapped eurozone country, the finance ministry said. At a meeting held late Sunday alongside one that grouped party leaders George Papandreou and Antonis Samaras, delegations from the socialist PASOK and…

Olympic torch to visit Stonehenge and Loch Ness

LONDON — The Olympic torch will visit famous sights such as Stonehenge on its journey around Britain before the London 2012 Games, organisers said Monday. The flame will also scale mountains, telescopes, take a ride on the train and a dash through a shopping centre on its 70-day tour. The…

Israel faces general strike over government use of contract workers

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court convened on Sunday night in an 11th-hour effort to avert a general strike which would paralyse the country’s main international airport, hospitals, banks and government offices. The National Labour Court went into session shortly before 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) after the powerful Histadrut trade union…

Last mountain priest dies in India’s Sikkim: report

An ancient ritual worshipping Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, has ended with the death of the last Lepcha priest in remote northeast India, reports said Sunday. The indigenous Lepcha people of Sikkim paid homage to the Himalayan peak for hundreds of years in an annual ceremony led by direct descendants…

21 Gaza flotilla activists still in Israeli jail

A group of 21 activists who tried to sail to Gaza in breach of an Israeli blockade of the territory remain in Israeli custody, pending legal proceedings, the interior ministry said on Sunday. “There are 21 passengers detained who refused to be expelled immediately and are engaged in proceedings against…

Saudi goes hi-tech for hajj pilgrimage

The annual hajj pilgrimage that draws millions of Muslim faithful to Mecca has gone hi-tech this year, with the Saudi authorities calling in latest electronic aides to help control the vast crowds. Coping with the world’s largest annual human assembly poses a security headache for Saudi Arabia — guardian of…

‘Occupy London Stock Exchange’ protests outside of parliament

About 200 anti-capitalist protesters linked to a group camped outside London’s St Paul’s Cathedral demonstrated on Saturday outside the parliament. Protesters from the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) group had set off on a march towards Trafalgar Square but a breakaway group headed to the square outside the Houses of…

Major UN Iran nuke report expected

Diplomats to the UN atomic watchdog are bracing for a new report this week providing fresh detail on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons drive, amid growing speculation of an Israeli military strike. Previous International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessments have centred on Iran’s efforts to produce fissile material — uranium and…

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