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Niger ready to host U.S. drone base

Niger said Wednesday it was ready to host a base for US drones monitoring movements by Al-Qaeda-linked groups currently based in northern Mali. “If Niger has an opportunity to receive support in the shape of aircraft or drones to monitor suspicious movements from Mali, we will not turn our nose…

South African billionaire announces he’ll give half his fortune to charity

South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe announced Wednesday he would give half his family’s fortune to charity, becoming the first African to match a pledge made by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The Soweto-born tycoon, worth an estimated $2.7 billion (two billion euros), announced he would join the Giving Pledge,…

Salman Rushdie and actor Kamal Haasan ponder exile after Muslim protests

Acclaimed British author Salman Rushdie cancelled a film promotional event and veteran Indian actor Kamal Haasan threatened to go into exile Wednesday after Muslim groups protested their work. In the eastern city of Kolkata, Rushdie, whose 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” remains banned in India for allegedly insulting Islam, was…

Assange to run for Australian senate: WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will run for a seat in the Australian Senate during this year’s elections, his organisation announced Wednesday, with his mother saying he would be “awesome” in the role. WikiLeaks unveiled the plan with a tweet that read “Australia: Julian Assange has confirmed he will run in…

Hitler’s rise to power ‘constant’ warning: Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Adolf Hitler’s rise to power 80 years ago should go on reminding Germans that democracy and freedom cannot be taken for granted. Merkel was speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition in Berlin to commemorate eight decades since Hitler became chancellor on January…

First ‘Barbie’ restaurant opens in Taiwan

With hot pink sofas, high heels-shaped tables and chairs decorated with tutus, the first Barbie-themed restaurant opened in Taiwan on Wednesday, catering to fans of the iconic doll. US toymaker Mattel has licensed Taiwan’s restaurant group Sinlaku to operate the Barbie Cafe and hopes that the new establishment in a…

Istanbul becomes a destination in quest for dream mustache

Already known the world over for its baths, coffee and sweet Turkish delights, Turkey is on the road to adding another item to its roster of specialities: the moustache. Lip whiskers remain a highly sought-after mark of manliness in Turkey and the Middle East to the point that the naturally…

Japanese Olympic judo coaches accused of beating their players

Japan’s Olympic female judokas were beaten with bamboo swords and slapped by their coaches, officials said, weeks after a schoolboy suicide sparked debate over corporal punishment. A 15-strong group of judokas complained to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) last month that they had been subjected to physical punishment by the…

Vietnam attempts to address ‘long illness’ of public sector

Opaque, corrupt, inefficient — Vietnam’s state-run companies are used to criticism, but now they stand accused of creating a systemic economic crisis which the communist regime cannot fix. More than 25 years after it started a transition towards a market economy, the government is trying to unpick a web of…

Band massacre in Mexico: 17 bodies found in a well

Mexican authorities are investigating why a band that performed love songs was kidnapped and killed by gunmen, who dumped their bodies in a well in the drug cartel-infested north. The killings underscored yet again the pervasiveness of Mexico’s grisly drug violence, which has claimed more than 70,000 lives since the…

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