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India’s public health system has collapsed: minister

India’s rural development minister said Friday the country’s public health system had “collapsed” in a blunt assessment of his government’s failure to extend a social safety net for the poor. Jairam Ramesh, known as a maverick with often outspoken views, stressed that 70 percent of spending on health was out…

British Buddhist monk self-immolates in France

A British monk died in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in France after he poured petrol over his clothes and set himself alight, police said Friday. The 38-year-old Briton, whom police did not name, had been living at Nalanda monastery near the southwestern village of Labastide-Saint-Georges for the past five years.…

Israeli army starts drafting 16,000 reservists

The Israeli army started calling up 16,000 reservists on Friday, as officials said the Jewish state was preparing for a possible ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. “They’re distributing emergency call-up notices now, the process has started,” an army spokeswoman told AFP. “As part of Operation Pillar of Defence, the…

Putin, Merkel seek to soothe Germany-Russia tensions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday with the two sides seeking to soothe tensions over Berlin’s recent criticism of the Russian record on rights. On the eve of the visit, German lawmakers from Merkel’s coalition urged the government to push for more democracy in Russia…

Hamas not respecting lull as Egypt PM visits: Israel

Hamas militants are not respecting a temporary lull in the fighting around Gaza which was agreed to by Israel on Friday for the duration of a brief visit by the Egyptian prime minister, an Israeli official said. “Hamas does not respect the Egyptian PM’s visit to Gaza and violates the…

Israel and Hamas fight on social media

The state of Israel and Hamas are not only fighting with rockets and weapons, but are using social media platforms as new arenas for battle, reported the Washington Post. The Israeli military media office has a Twitter account, @IDFSpokesperson, which tweeted on Nov. 14 to announce a “widespread campaign on…

Synthetic drug use rising in Europe

Europe is being bombarded with an array of new, synthetic drugs of which the ingredients and effects on users are unknown, the continent’s drug agency warned in a report on Thursday. While cocaine and cannabis remain the most popular illicit drugs, new synthetic substances are being detected at a rate…

Spain halts evictions of vulnerable homeowners

Spain announced Thursday a two-year halt to evictions of the most vulnerable home owners as a public outcry mounted over suicides linked to desperate people facing expulsion. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s right-leaning government said it agreed on the moratorium “for humanitarian reasons” and the new measure was restricted to those…

Rooftop gardens growing in popularity in notoriously smoggy Mexico City

A green revolution is sweeping across the car and concrete jungle of Mexico City, an infamously smoggy capital that was once dubbed “Makesicko City” by novelist Carlos Fuentes. Residents are growing vegetables on rooftops, planting trees where buildings once stood, hopping on bicycles and riding in electric taxis, defying the…

Petraeus sex scandal prompts laughter among Taliban

The sex scandal that has brought down CIA chief David Petraeus may be causing heartache in the Washington security establishment but the affair has prompted laughter among the Taliban. Petraeus resigned last week to pre-empt revelations of an affair with his married biographer Paula Broadwell, bringing to an end a…

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