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Russia’s Putin denies propping up Syria’s Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and stressed that Moscow was only seeking to avert a perpetual civil war. “What is our position? Not to leave Assad’s regime in power at any price, but to first (let the Syrians) agree among themselves how…

Rape outcry shines light on India’s ‘misogyny’

Despite an outpouring of anger at a student’s gang-rape, observers say misogyny remains widespread in India where sex assaults are often dismissed as “teasing” and victims find themselves blamed for attacks. The Sunday night assault on a bus in New Delhi, which left the 23-year-old victim fighting for her life,…

Mayan apocalypse: China arrests nearly 1,000 doomsday ‘cult’ members of ‘Almighty God’

The Christian-inspired group “Almighty God” has been accused of spreading doomsday rumours apparently linked to the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar and urging followers to slay the “red dragon” of communism, state media reports said. Close to 1,000 followers of the sect, which state-run media labels an “evil cult” –…

Record-breaking support expected for UN anti-death penalty vote

A record number of countries are expected to back a UN General Assembly call for a moratorium on capital punishment on Thursday, diplomats said. The vote held every two years now sees the likes of the United States, Japan, China, Iran and Iraq stuck in a shrinking minority as pressure…

Palestinians flee Damascus camp battles in droves

Talks were held on Wednesday aimed at removing both rebel and pro-government fighters from a Damascus Palestinian refugee camp after deadly clashes, a Palestinian relief official told AFP, as the UN spoke of residents fleeing in droves. “Palestinian organisations that have remained neutral are overseeing talks between the (rebel) Free…

U.S. to open military ties soon with Myanmar: official

The United States is poised to take “nascent steps” to open up military ties with Myanmar as a way of bolstering political reforms undertaken by the former pariah state, a senior US defense official said Wednesday. The Pentagon said the cooperation likely would take the form of “non-lethal” training for…

Canada probes scheme to exploit U.S. energy program

A train carrying biodiesel crisscrossed the Canada-US border repeatedly without unloading its cargo, exploiting a loophole in a US green energy program, Canada’s public broadcaster reported Wednesday. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, citing sources who knew of the scheme, said authorities here are investigating Toronto-based Bioversel Trading Inc. which allegedly organized…

Letters stolen from World War II Nazi postbox delivered after 71 years

Letters written by German soldiers stationed on the Channel Island of Jersey have finally been delivered, 71 years after they were stolen in an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation. The 90 letters and cards were taken just before Christmas 1941 by a group of young men who ‘liberated’…

Signed checks worth half a billion found in Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Moolah from heaven or a devilish scam? That is a question Jerusalem police are asking on Wednesday after signed cheques worth around half a billion dollars were found at the Western Wall. The 507 cheques were discovered in an envelope at the Jewish holy site in the Old City of…

Mother of 3-year-old named Jihad faces French court for putting ‘I am a bomb’ shirt on her son

The mother and uncle of a three-year old named Jihad, who was born on September 11, were due in a French court Wednesday for sending him to school in a top with “I am a bomb” written on it. The sweatshirt also had the words “Jihad, born on September 11″…

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