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Obama administration slaps sanctions on Syria

WASHNGTON/AMMAN (Reuters) – Washington imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses on Wednesday in a dramatic escalation of pressure on Syria to cease its brutal crackdown on protesters. Assad had been partly rehabilitated in the West over the last three years but Western powers have condemned…

Researchers find evidence of heart disease in mummified Egyptian princess

PARIS (AFP) – The diagnosis is more than 3,500 years late, but no less stunning for all of that. An Egyptian princess who lived between 1580 and 1550 BC has become the earliest person in human history to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease, according to computer scans presented at…

Iran rejects U.S. sanctions as ‘psychological warfare’

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran accused Washington of engaging in “psychological warfare” after the U.S. Treasury added an Iranian state bank to its list of blacklisted companies, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Wednesday. The United States on Tuesday blacklisted Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine saying it was taking part…

US, Obama’s image sour in Muslim nations: poll

WASHINGTON — The image of the United States has soured in Muslim nations in the past year, says a poll released two days before President Barack Obama is due to deliver a speech on the pro-democracy revolts sweeping the Arab world. Only in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation…

Exploding melons sow new China food fears

BEIJING (AFP) – A bizarre wave of exploding watermelons — possibly due to farmers’ abuse of a growth-boosting chemical — has once again spotlighted safety fears plaguing China’s poorly regulated food sector. State media has said nearly 50 hectares (120 acres) of watermelon crops in the eastern city of Danyang…

CIA used stealth drones to monitor Bin Laden: report

WASHINGTON — The CIA flew stealth drones on dozens of secret missions deep into Pakistan to monitor Osama bin Laden’s compound before US commandos killed him, The Washington Post reported. Citing current and former US officials, the Post said the Central Intelligence Agency used the highly sophisticated unmanned planes to…

Japan’s TEPCO plea for debt forgiveness draws ire

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese government remarks calling on lenders to forgive some of Tokyo Electric Power’s debt have sparked acrimony and confusion, and illustrate difficulties in addressing a nuclear crisis, say analysts. Corporate leaders have rounded on comments from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano that banks may have to waive…

Post-hack, Sony chief says company cannot guarantee PS3 security

TOKYO (AFP) – Sony chief Howard Stringer has warned he can no longer guarantee the security of the electronics giant’s gaming network in the “bad new world” of cybercrime after one of the biggest Internet data breaches. The Japanese multinational has begun restoring its hacked PlayStation Network and Sony Online…

11 killed in Afghan protests over NATO killings

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (AFP) – Eleven people were killed and over 50 others injured, including two German soldiers, at protests in Afghanistan on Wednesday over the deaths of four people in a NATO raid, officials said. Police opened fire as around 2,000 people took to the streets in Taloqan, capital of…

Former Egyptian Special Forces officer named new Al Qaeda leader

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda has chosen a former Egyptian Special Forces officer as interim leader of the violent extremist group in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this month, CNN reported Tuesday. Saif al-Adel, a top Al-Qaeda strategist and senior military leader, has been tapped as “caretaker” chief of…

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