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Russia probes deadly ‘zorb ball’ accident

Russia has launched an investigation into the death of a 27-year-old man in an inflatable “zorb” ball that tumbled down a mountainside in a horrific accident that was caught on video, a spokesman said Wednesday. Denis Burakov, 27, died of his injuries after he and a friend, Vladimir Shcherbov, 33,…

French leader spurns appeal to save elephants on death row

French President Francois Hollande will not intervene in the case of two ailing zoo elephants whose death sentence led Brigitte Bardot to threaten to go into exile in Russia, his office said Wednesday. The two elephants named Baby and Nepal face being put down because they have been diagnosed with…

Hidden casualties of Afghan war: Nomadic farmers adopt more settled life

Former nomad Gul Mohammad has not taken to a settled life. “I live in a jail now,” the 45-year-old said, gazing out despondently at a livestock market from a breeze-block shed that doubles as a rough tea house. With 11 children his tiny house feels crammed, and the large herd…

Yemen says U.S. drone strikes to continue

Yemen’s national security chief said on Tuesday that US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda targets will continue as the two governments keep up their counter-terrorism cooperation. “The Yemeni-American cooperation, including the use of friendly aircraft, will continue,” Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi told reporters in Sanaa. “Yemen is one of the countries that…

EU launches public consultation on artificial sweetener aspartame

The EU’s food safety agency on Tuesday launched a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion regarding the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame. “All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to comment on the draft opinion through the online public consultation by 15 February 2013,” the European Food Safety…

Swiss court relieves farmer of 656-year-old debt to Catholic Church

A Swiss court has wiped the slate clean for a farmer and his family, relieving them of an annual debt to a Catholic church dating back to 1357, Swiss public broadcaster RTS reported Tuesday. The court in the northeastern canton of Glarus ruled that the farmer and his family no…

French budget minister under investigation for tax fraud

French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac is under investigation for tax fraud after a media report that he had an undeclared UBS account in Geneva which he then moved to Asia, prosecutors said Tuesday. Cahuzac, who is in charge of battling tax evasion, has denied the report by the respected Mediapart…

European unemployment hits ‘unacceptable high’

BRUSSELS — European unemployment has hit an unacceptable high, as one national leader put it on Tuesday, with dire figures in Spain highlighting a growing north-south divide that experts warn will only get worse. The unemployment rate across the troubled 17-nation eurozone hit 11.8 percent in November, up from 11.7…

Poachers slaughter 11-member Kenyan elephant family

Kenyan wildlife rangers on Tuesday were tracking a team of poachers who massacred a family of 11 elephants in what they said was the worst single such killings in the country in the past three decades. “We have not lost as many elephants in a single incident since the early…

Climate change, debt and inequality ‘threaten financial stability,’ according to World Economic Forum report

Ahead of Davos 2013, World Economic Forum calls on policymakers to step up their efforts to tackle the three big dangers cited by a panel of 1,000 experts Persistent economic weakness is sapping the ability of governments to tackle the growing threat of climate change and threatens a global “perfect…

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