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Australian firefighters race to beat rising heat and out-of-control fires

Australian firefighters raced to control a series of blazes on Thursday before a forecast rise in temperatures brings the risk of more infernos, as dramatic accounts of survival emerged. Fires have been raging across southeast Australia for nearly a week. While many have been contained, 120 are still burning and…

63-year-old blind man Tasered by police launches compensation claim

A blind man who was Tasered by police who mistook his white stick for a samurai sword launched a claim for compensation on Thursday. Colin Farmer, 63, was shot in the back with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun on October 12 last year in Chorley, Lancashire, after police received reports…

Worst storms in decade bring parts of the Middle East to near standstill

The worst storms in a decade left swathes of Israel and Jordan under a blanket of snow and parts of Lebanon blacked out on Thursday, bringing misery to a region accustomed to temperate climates. Freezing temperatures and floods since Sunday across the region have claimed at least 11 lives and…

Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds

Figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers show as much as 2bn tonnes of food never makes it on to a plate As much as half of all the food produced in the world – equivalent to 2bn tonnes – ends up as waste every year, engineers warned in a…

Defense attorney alleges police brutality in Delhi gang-rape case

A defence lawyer accused Indian police on Thursday of beating confessions out of five men charged with murdering and gang-raping a student in New Delhi, as they were due to appear in court again. Speaking before a hearing at which a magistrate is expected to transfer the case to a…

With Chavez absent, Venezuela launches new presidential term

With President Hugo Chavez ailing and absent, Venezuela’s leftist government launches a new presidential term Thursday with a display of popular support on the day he was to be inaugurated. Leaders of other leftist Latin American government also began arriving in Caracas to pay tribute to Chavez, 58, who has…

Mass donor organ fraud shakes Germany

German medical authorities are calling for an extensive overhaul of the country’s organ transplant programme after transplant centres across Germany were placed under criminal investigation over allegations that they had systematically manipulated donor waiting lists. Scores of patients are believed to have been given priority access to donor organs after…

Four Polish soldiers re-tried in Afghan war crimes case

Four Polish soldiers, accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan, on Wednesday faced the first day of a re-trial after Poland’s Supreme Court last year overturned their acquittal, a military court spokesman said. The case marks the first instance in which Polish troops have faced a court martial for war…

15-year-old Saudi girl granted divorce from 86-year-old man

A 15-year-old Saudi girl who was forced to marry an octogenarian has been granted a divorce after a local human rights group intervened, the watchdog said on Wednesday. The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) raised the case “after learning of the marriage of a minor girl to an 86-year-old man…

China becomes second-largest movie market

Moviegoers in China spent 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) on tickets last year, turning the country into the second-largest film market in the world, the state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday. Sales rose 30 percent from 2011, it said, citing the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT),…

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