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Vietnam holds live-fire drill amid China tensions

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam on Monday held live-fire naval drills in the tense South China Sea, a move that analysts see as raising the risk of a “showdown” with Beijing in a deepening territorial rift. A long-standing dispute between the communist neighbours over sovereignty of two potentially oil-rich archipelagos has…

Indonesia arrests 16 over ‘cyanide plot’

JAKARTA — Indonesia has arrested 16 terror suspects who planned to carry out a mass cyanide poisoning against police, the national police spokesman said Monday. “We rounded them up in a four-day operation last week. They planned to poison police personnel using cyanide,” Boy Rafli Amar told reporters. “Besides poisoning…

Syria troops seize hotbed town, ‘mass grave’ found

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian troops on Sunday seized the flashpoint northern town of Jisr al-Shughur, state television said, as international outrage mounted at the regime’s harsh crackdown on protesters. Rights activists had earlier reported heavy gunfire and explosions in the town near the Turkish border after troops backed by helicopter…

Spanish police website hit by cyber attack: report

MADRID (Reuters) – Access to the website of Spain’s national police force was blocked for over an hour late on Saturday in a reprisal attack by the Anonymous hackers group, El Mundo said on its website on Sunday. El Mundo said the group had warned police in a statement it…

‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog author outed as Tom MacMaster

A blogspot-powered blog called “A Gay Girl in Damascus” that has called attention to the Syrian government’s harsh actions against its own people has been confirmed to be a hoax. A man named Tom MacMaster confessed on the blog to writing all the entries on the blog, which has more…

Cambodians rally against widespread child labor

PHNOM PENH — Hundreds of Cambodian school children marched through the country’s capital on Sunday to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, waving banners calling for an end to the widespread practice. The demonstration was organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Cambodian government, who have set…

Italians vote on plan to restart nuclear power program

ROME — Italians began voting on Sunday in referendums on plans to return to nuclear power and on a law granting Silvio Berlusconi immunity in what is seen as a vital test for the embattled premier. The nuclear vote will be an important marker of popular opinion on atomic energy…

Iran deploys security forces on anniversary of disputed election

TEHRAN — Thousands of security forces were deployed in Tehran on Sunday to prevent any opposition protest on the second anniversary of the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said. The security forces were deployed on Vali Asr street, which bisects the city from north to south, and in…

Lady Gaga joins one million people at gay pride parade in Rome

ROME — Lady Gaga hailed gays on Saturday as the “revolutionaries of love” and called for “full equality now” for same-sex couples around the world in a speech in front of hundreds of thousands in Rome. The US pop diva criticised governments in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for…

Global ‘Slut Walk’ hits London streets

LONDON (AFP) – Thousands of women took part in a so-called “Slut Walk” in London, insisting that they should be able to wear as much or as little as they like without facing sexual harassment by men. The colourful march on Saturday saw most people wearing everyday clothing but some…

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