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Colombian farmers learning how to clear their home of landmines

When she was 15, an anti-personnel mine blast nearly killed Gloria Nancy Vasquez as she traveled in rural northwestern Colombia. Now she’s learning how to unearth the deadly explosives. Vasquez, 23, has joined a team of local volunteers being trained by a British organisation to remove landmines from the heavily…

Slain American included in morbid Taliban slideshow

The Pakistani Taliban have included a Briton and an American in a slideshow of fighters killed in battle that also eulogises Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. According to the US monitoring service SITE, the 12-minute, 56-second video was posted on jihadist websites on February 6 and was prepared by Umar…

Wheelchair tennis star retires after 10-year winning streak

Dutch wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer announced her retirement on Tuesday after an astonishing unbroken run of 470 wins spanning more than 10 years. “A special day: officially stopping tennis,” Vergeer, 31, wrote on the micro-blogging, without elaborating on her reasons for retiring. Vergeer, who won four Paralympic tennis singles…

Romania denies blame for Europe’s horsemeat lasagne scandal

France and Britain called Monday for the “criminals” who disguised horsemeat as beef to be tracked down, as Romania angrily denied it was to blame for the frozen food scandal spreading across Europe. The controversy was growing quickly in scope, with Britain’s food minister Owen Paterson saying he believed warnings…

North Korea carries out third nuclear test

North Korea on Tuesday staged its most powerful nuclear test yet, claiming a breakthrough with a “miniaturised” device in a striking act of defiance to global powers including its sole patron China. The communist state said it had staged its third test with a “successful” underground detonation, in a riposte…

Sex abuse victims on Benedict’s abdication: ‘We won’t miss this pope’

For the legions of people whose childhoods and adult lives were wrecked by sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is an unloved pontiff who will not be missed. Victims of the epidemic of sex- and child-abuse scandals that erupted under Benedict’s papacy…

Bangladesh approves law to execute convicted war criminals

Bangladesh’s cabinet approved on Monday changes to war crime laws to ensure opposition leaders on trial for alleged atrocities during the nation’s 1971 independence war can be swiftly executed if convicted. The move came amid huge demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people in Dhaka for the past seven days…

Italian journalist gets pope scoop because she knew Latin

An Italian journalist who beat the world’s media on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign got the scoop on the utterly unexpected news thanks to her knowledge of Latin. “Our Vatican expert Giovanna Chirri was listening to the pope’s speech,” the ANSA news agency’s head of information Luigi Contu told…

Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Catholic Church in a state of crisis

Pope Benedict XVI will leave behind a Catholic Church grappling with crises from child abuse scandals involving priests to confronting radical Islam as well as struggling to find its place in an increasingly secular Western world. German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who will step down at the end of this month…

Iranian ambassador: ‘High five’ with female MP didn’t break Islamic law

The Iranian ambassador to Germany is insisting that he did not break Islamic law by touching a female member of parliament with a “high five” greeting because he says the contact was accidental. The German magazine Spiegel reported last week that Ali Reza Sheik Attar was caught on video “high-fiving”…

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