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British PM Cameron denies ‘blackmailing’ EU members

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday denied trying to “blackmail” his European partners by threatening to pull out of the EU if he did not get his way on repatriating powers. Ahead of a long-awaited speech next week in which he is expected to propose a referendum after 2015…

French leaders unmoved by march against marriage equality

France’s ruling Socialists refused to back down on Monday, a day after hundreds of thousands marched against plans to legalise gay marriage and adoption, and as opposition politicians stepped up calls for a referendum on the issue. Despite the massive turn-out in Paris — 800,000 according to organisers, 340,000 according…

Mali Islamists vow to strike ‘at heart’ of France

Islamist forces based in northern Mali vowed Monday to avenge France’s fierce military offensive against them on French soil. “France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” said a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an offshoot of Al Qaeda…

Tunisia marks two years since its revolution

Tunisians on Monday marked two years since the flight into exile of veteran dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali amid a climate of uncertainty marked by social tension, a weak economy, threats from jihadists and a political impasse. President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and parliamentary speaker Mustapha Ben…

Watchdog group: Rape a ‘significant’ factor in Syria conflict

Rape has been a “significant” weapon of war in the conflict raging in Syria since March 2011 and is the “primary” factor in the exodus of women and children refugees to neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, an aid group said on Monday. In its report, “Syria: A Regional Crisis,” the US-based…

Chinese bank criticized for ‘atrocious’ promotion against men

A Chinese bank’s offer to automatically transfer most of a husband’s income to his wife’s account has provoked fury, with some calling it “the most atrocious banking service against men in history”. On its website, China Merchants Bank (CMB), a major financial institution, describes its “capital accumulation” service as a…

Exotic dancer set to testify at former Italian PM’s prostitution trial

The exotic dancer at the centre of a sex trial against Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is expected to testify for the first time in court on Monday as the media tycoon bids for a fourth term as prime minister. Moroccan-born Karima El-Mahroug — better known by her nickname as “Ruby the…

Thousands strip for ‘No Pants Subway Ride’

Hundreds of people in Mexico City shed their pants and skirts to take part in the “No Pants Subway Ride” prank, just for laughs, around the world. Young and old of all ages participated in the stunt Sunday in the Mexican capital, held once a year in dozens of places,…

Colombia wants to speed up peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels

Colombia’s government wants to pick up the pace of its peace negotiations with Marxist FARC rebels, the chief government negotiator said Sunday ahead of the continuation of talks in Cuba. “We really need to get things moving. I want to make that known to people in general, as well as…

Palestinian camp shines light on protest action

A Palestinian “village” on land slated for Israeli settlement could draw new attention to non-violent Palestinian protests against Israeli occupation and be a model for future action, activists say. Early on Sunday, some 500 Israeli police moved to evacuate the West Bank Palestinian protest camp of Bab al-Shams, a tent…

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