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6 million volunteers clean up garbage worldwide

More than six million volunteers from 96 countries collected an unprecedented 100,000 tonnes of garbage last year as part of a global, web-driven clean-up campaign, cyber-environmentalists said Friday. “Last year the most astonishing numbers of volunteers attended clean-ups in Sweden, Bulgaria and in Slovenia,” Tiina Urm, spokeswoman for World Cleanup…

Saudi King appoints woman to advisory council for first time

Saudi King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the previously all-male consultative Shura Council in decrees published on Friday, marking a historic first as he pushes reforms in the ultra-conservative kingdom. The decrees gives women a 20 percent quota in the Shura Council, a body appointed by the king to advise…

Russia to allow some orphans to be adopted in U.S.

Russian children whose adoptions have already been approved by courts will go to the United States despite a blanket ban on all American adoptions, a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday. “Those who have received a court decision will go,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP. “Those who do…

France reluctant to restrict newer generation birth control pill despite health concerns

France insisted Friday on restricting the prescription of newer-generation birth control pills even as Europe’s medicines watchdog declared there was no evidence to back a health warning. Citing concerns over risks of blood clots from the so-called 3rd- and 4th-generation pills, France said it would limit prescriptions of these contraceptives…

First portrait of Duchess Kate unveiled

The first official portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled Friday at a London gallery where it was hailed by its subject as “amazing” but slammed by some critics. The National Portrait Gallery commissioned award-winning artist Paul Emsley to produce the painting of Prince William’s wife after she became…

Anger as Norway police drop Breivik response probe

The family of a teenager killed by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik reacted angrily Friday after a probe into police’s slow response to the July 2011 twin attacks was dropped. “Apparently, no one will ever learn from the grave mistakes that were made on July 22, not the police…

Thief posts own picture on victim’s Facebook page

A suspected thief appears to have mistakenly posted his own picture on his victim’s Facebook page using a stolen tablet computer, South African media reported Friday. James and Barbara McCall returned from a weekend break to find thieves had broken into their home and had made off with digital cameras,…

Red-dust sunset as west Australia braces for cyclone

Western Australians were bracing for a cyclone with residents warned to batten down for storms and destructive winds gusting up to 140 kilometres per hour (90 mph). Cyclone Narelle was estimated to be 525 kilometres (325 miles) north of Exmouth and 505 kilometres north-west of Karratha near the Pilbara mining…

Pollution turns Hong Kong harbour from ‘fragrant’ to foul

Hong Kong’s name may mean “fragrant harbour”, but cargo ships burning dirty fuel in what is one of the world’s busiest ports add to a foul layer of pollution that kills more than 3,000 people a year. Now the government is vowing to get tough, with activists hoping mandatory restrictions…

Critics of Likud’s new vanguard say party has abandoned founder’s ideals

Critics of Likud's new vanguard say party has abandoned founder's ideals Few Israelis today remember that until 1966, Arab citizens of the Jewish state were under army rule and needed permits from the local military governor to travel outside their home towns for work, study, or medical care. Even fewer…

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