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Russia plans national park for joint U.S.-Russia nature reserve

Russia on Thursday decreed a national park in its remote Far Eastern Chukotka region, paving the way for a joint US-Russian nature reserve spanning the Bering Strait, an idea first proposed by the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree to create the new national…

White House: Iran under pressure from sanctions

The White House said Thursday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest warnings on the state of Iran’s economy, proved the “profound impact” of nuclear sanctions. Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Tehran needed to tailor the economy to subvert Western sanctions, saying the current approach would be a “losing strategy.” White House…

Clinton: U.S. and Somalia launch new era of diplomatic ties

The United States and Somalia Thursday launched a new era of diplomatic relations, as Washington recognized the African nation’s government for the first time since 1991. “Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end,” US Secretary of…

Malawi challenges Madonna’s claim her charity built 10 schools

Malawi education authorities on Thursday challenged a claim by American pop queen Madonna that her charity last year built 10 new schools in the poor southern African nation. “The schools Raising Malawi claims to have constructed were already in existence,” Education Minister Eunice Kazembe said. “Raising Malawi only built 10…

Senior Chinese official resigns after jilted lover publishes online screed

A senior Chinese official has lost his job, state media said on Thursday, after a jilted lover detailed their alleged affair in an online essay topping 100,000 written characters. The downfall of Yi Junqing, who had a rank equivalent to vice minister, comes as the ruling Communist Party’s new leaders…

European politicians pledge to attack airlines for carry-on baggage fees

Too big, too heavy, too many — European travellers are being taken for a ride by airlines charging what they like for carry-on baggage and the EU should standardise the rules, MEPs said Thursday. “We must protect consumers from the abusive commercial practices that airlines use to generate extra income,”…

Chief suspect in Putin murder plot withdraws confession

The chief suspect being tried in Ukraine over an alleged plot to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin has withdrawn his confession, claiming he was tortured, a news report said on Thursday. Days before last year’s presidential elections, Russian state television disclosed an alleged plan to bomb Putin’s motorcade, airing a…

600 cats stuffed in wooden crates saved from cooking pot after truck crash in China

BEIJING — Around 600 cats stuffed into wooden crates and destined for dinner plates in southern China were rescued by animal protection volunteers after a truck crash, a volunteer said on Thursday. Volunteers hauled the felines from the lorry on Monday after the accident in the central city of Changsha,…

Several killed as Algerian troops strike gas complex hostage site

Algerian troops launched strikes on Thursday on a desert gas plant where radical Islamists are holding dozens of foreigners hostage, killing several people, kidnappers said. The Islamists were trying to “ferry some hostages in vehicles to a safer place” when Algerian forces launched air strikes “killing both the hostages and …

Spanish pets to be blessed at Saint Anthony feast

Dogs, cats, parrots and other pets, some dressed in their finest winter coats, entered churches across Spain on Thursday to be blessed on the feast day of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. Animal lovers lined up outside the main entrance to the Church of San Anton in central…

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