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UN nuclear chief warns no ‘business as usual’

VIENNA (AFP) – The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned on Monday that confidence in atomic energy had been “deeply shaken” by the Fukushima disaster as a conference began to debate lessons to be drawn of the crisis in Japan. “The eyes of the world will be upon us…

Syria’s Assad vows change but not under ‘chaos’

DAMASCUS (AFP) – President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that dialogue could lead to a new constitution and even the end of his Baath party’s monopoly on power but refused to reform Syria under “chaos.” After widespread condemnation of a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests, the country was at a…

Refugees on rise and poor countries bear brunt: UNHCR

GENEVA (Reuters) – The number of people forced to flee their homes to escape war or abuse has risen to its highest for 15 years, with four out of five refugees in developing countries, the United Nations said on Monday. In all, there were 43.7 million displaced people worldwide at…

NATO admits causing Libya civilian deaths

TRIPOLI (AFP) – NATO acknowledged late Sunday it was responsible for civilian deaths in Tripoli after Libyan officials showed reporters five bodies, two of them of toddlers, they said were among nine people killed in a “barbaric” air strike. Rebels fighting the four-decade rule of Moamer Kadhafi meanwhile warned that…

Bonner was ‘extraordinary voice’ for human rights: U.S.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States expressed sadness Sunday over the death of former Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, hailing the tireless critic of Vladimir Putin as an “extraordinary voice” for human rights. “We note with profound sadness the death of Yelena Bonner, an extraordinary voice among human rights defenders in…

Weak Al-Qaeda could splinter: Gates

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that Al-Qaeda had been seriously degraded and could split into a set of regional terror groups now that Osama bin Laden was gone. “First of all, they have been significantly weakened. There’s just no two ways about it,” Gates told…

More than 100,000 in Spain anti-crisis protests

MADRID (AFP) – More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets in Spain on Sunday blaming bankers and politicians for causing a financial crisis that forced the country to adopt painful spending cuts. Demonstrators of all ages linked to a movement called the “indignants” also protested against crippling unemployment and…

Gunmen in Mexico kill 17 as FIFA tournament opens

MONTERREY, Mexico (AFP) – At least 17 people were killed in a string of attacks in Mexico, authorities said Sunday, including a shooting at a bar in Monterrey just hours after the opening of soccer’s Under-17 World Cup. Gunmen stormed the bar in Mexico’s third largest city late Saturday and…

Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner dies in U.S.

MOSCOW (AFP) – Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov and tireless critic of Vladimir Putin, has died aged 88 in her adopted home in the United States. A pediatrician by training but a historic figure in life, Bonner died on Saturday in Boston…

U.S. in ‘outreach’ to Taliban: Gates

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed Sunday that US officials were involved in preliminary talks with the Taliban to seek a political solution to the Afghan war but said he didn’t expect significant progress for months. Gates also said recent gains on the ground in Afghanistan meant President…

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