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India’s President approves death penalty in some rape cases

India’s president on Sunday approved harsher punishments for rapists, including the death penalty, after a brutal gang-rape in New Delhi sparked national outrage and triggered demands for tougher laws. President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the new rape law two days after cabinet ministers recommended changes to improve safety…

Atheists find togetherness and ritual in London’s new godless church

“I feel sorry for the church next door, waiting for their three people to trickle in,” says Nick Julius, glancing at the small adjacent hall which will shortly be hosting its own gathering. There are still 40 minutes before the Sunday Assembly, an atheist service run by two standup comedians,…

Etch A Sketch creator Andre Cassagnes dies

Andre Cassagnes, the French inventor of the Etch A Sketch, a toy beloved of children around the world, has died at the age of 86. His death in France in mid-January was announced by the Ohio Art Company which has been making the Etch a Sketch since 1960, according to…

Turkey police arrest 11 over U.S. woman’s murder

Turkish police have arrested 11 people over the murder of an American woman who disappeared while visiting Istanbul last month, police and the local media reported Sunday. The body of 33-year-old Sarai Sierra, a mother of two, was found on Saturday near Istanbul’s ancient city walls with fatal head wounds,…

Iran open to new negotiation with U.S. over nuclear program

Iran announced on Sunday fresh talks with world powers on its nuclear drive and said it was open to a US offer for two-way discussions if Washington’s intention was “authentic”. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the six world powers planned to resume talks in Kazakhstan on February 25…

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…

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