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Iraq says 3,000 inmates freed amid demonstrations

A top Iraqi minister said on Sunday that the authorities had released 3,000 prisoners over the past month in a bid to appease weeks of angry demonstrations in Sunni-majority areas of the country. Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani’s announcement is the latest in a series of government steps to curb…

Outrage in Egypt over video of naked man beaten by police

Video footage of a man beaten and dragged naked by policemen in Cairo triggered an outrage in Egypt on Saturday and prompted calls for Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim to resign. But hours after the presidency expressed disappointment over the incident and Ibrahim offered to resign, the man told state television…

Nuclear safety chief quizzed over Fukushima

Japanese police have questioned a former head of the nuclear safety body regarding possible criminal charges over the Fukushima nuclear crisis, news reports said Sunday. Prosecutors have interviewed Haruki Madarame, former chief of the Nuclear Safety Commission who was responsible for giving the government technical advice about the crisis, national…

Elderly man dies as torrential rains lash Jordan

A flash flood in southern Jordan killed an elderly man on Saturday as torrential rains and heavy snowfall swept the desert country, trapping 300 people who had to be rescued, officials said. The kingdom’s civil defence office reported “the death of a citizen in his 70s who was swept away…

Hackers attack embattled Iraqi PM’s website

Hackers attacked the official website of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday, posting a message critical of the leader who has faced weeks of protests demanding he quit. The message, posted by a group calling themselves “Team Kuwait Hackers”, described Maliki as a “tyrant” and warned him that he…

‘King Bibi’ holds on for third term as Israel’s PM

Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tapped on Saturday to form a new government for a third successive term, cuts a figure of admiration and loathing at home and abroad. A May 2012 cover of Time magazine hailed him as “King Bibi,” using his nickname, but former French president Nicolas…

‘Beautiful Game’ still ticket out of poverty for Brazil’s teens

On a muddy pitch in a Rio slum, a skinny 17-year-old with big dreams of football stardom struts his stuff to attract the attention of talent-spotters watching a local tournament. Alan Viera is one of 800 teenagers taking part in the Favelas Cup, a tournament that draws players from 80…

Iran’s exiled opposition urges June election boycott

An exiled Iranian opposition group called in Paris on Saturday for a boycott of the June presidential election that will choose a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “This election whose only candidates are criminals implicated in the torture, massacre and looting of the Iranian people for 34 years, has no legitimacy…

Thousands of motorcycle pilgrims pay homage to Guatemala’s ‘Black Christ’

Some 35,000 motorcyclists roared through the streets of Guatemala City Saturday for an annual pilgrimage to the Cristo Negro — the shrine of the Black Christ — one of this country’s most venerated icons. The riders, many toting wives or children on their backs, will cover 195 kilometers (120 miles)…

Colombian rebels rebels promise to release captive soldier and policemen

Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels said Saturday they will free two police officers and a soldier they captured a week ago. A statement from the FARC leadership of the rebels’ web page said the hostages were in good condition and had been treated well. Their capture and a series of military…

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