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Afghanistan’s growing number of child drug addicts

They play badminton, kick a ball around and huddle over computer games just like normal children. Except that they are recovering drug addicts aged around three to 12, representing a growing proportion of drug users in war-torn Afghanistan. In response, increasing numbers of rehabilitation centers are weaning such children off…

Australian gambling mogul pays tribute to his ‘terrifying’ father …and Tom Cruise

Australian gambling mogul James Packer has paid tribute to his “terrifying” late father Kerry and Hollywood star Tom Cruise in a rare and tearful interview on his private life. Packer, who owns casinos in Australia and Macau and is developing a complex in Manila, opened up on his media tycoon…

LGBT rights mostly out of reach in central and eastern Europe

Ania and Yga have been inseparable for the last 17 years, living together as a couple in the Polish capital Warsaw but their love is seen as second class in this deeply Roman Catholic country. As Britain and France legalise gay marriage, in January Polish lawmakers voted down three bills…

Iranians march in government-sponsored rally to mark revolution

Hundreds of thousands of people marched on Sunday in Tehran and other cities chanting “Death to America” as Iran marked the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that ousted the US-backed shah. In the capital, crowds waving Iranian flags and portraits of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini walked towards the…

Twins’ DNA confounds French police investigating rape case

French police investigating a series of rapes in the southern city of Marseille are confounded after tracing DNA evidence to a set of twins but not knowing which one may be to blame. With telling the difference between the twins’ DNA extremely difficult and expensive, police have in the meantime…

‘Ping pong diplomacy’ hero dies at 73

Zhuang Zedong, a triple world champion table tennis star who played a crucial role in thawing relations between China and the USA has died at the age of 73, the Chinese press reported on Sunday. His gift of a painting of the Huangshang Mountains to American player Glen Cowan in…

Falling lifeboat kills Thomson cruise ship crew in Canary Islands

Five die and three injured in incident during emergency drill on Thomson Majesty moored at Santa Cruz on island of La Palma Five people have died on a cruise ship operated by the holiday firm Thomson after a lifeboat fell from the vessel during an emergency drill at La Palma…

Raucous celebrations as Asia greets Year of Snake

A billion-plus Asians ushered in the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of fireworks, after a Chinese televised gala featuring stars including Celine Dion kicked off a week of festivities. From Australia to South Korea, millions of people travelled huge distances to reunite with their families for Lunar New…

Ahmadinejad: US must change before direct talks

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday said the United States must change its attitude if it wants to hold direct nuclear talks with Iran, as he hit out at Washington for imposing sanctions on Tehran. His comments, in a speech marking the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that ousted the…

Tens of millions of Indians bathe at Ganges festival

Tens of millions of Hindus gathered for a holy bath in India’s sacred river Ganges on the most auspicious day of the world’s largest religious festival. Ash-smeared naked saints led the ritual bathing before dawn — which is said to cleanse pilgrims of their sins — with millions following them…

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