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Tunisian president stoned by protesters

Protesters on Monday hurled rocks at Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki and parliamentary speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar in Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the revolution that erupted exactly two years ago. The incident began after a speech by Marzouki in the central Tunisian town, where celebrations are taking place to mark the…

North Korea mourns Kim Jong-Il at memorial service

North Korea on Monday mourned the death one year ago of leader Kim Jong-Il, with its rocket scientists taking pride of place at a special memorial ceremony led by his son and successor Kim Jong-Un. Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on December 17, 2011, although his death was…

Benghazi police station hit by two explosions

Two explosions rocked police stations in the Libyan city of Benghazi early on Monday and police foiled a third attack, a security official told AFP, adding that there were no casualties. Police in the eastern city had placed checkpoints and bolstered security around their stations following two Sunday attacks, blamed…

Venezuelan president’s rival re-elected as opposition loses ground

President Hugo Chavez’s top rival survived a tough test Sunday, winning re-election as governor, but he allowed that losses in other state-level races were a “tough moment” for Venezuela’s opposition. Henrique Capriles, the prominent opposition leader whose political life was on the line after losing his presidential bid to Chavez…

French toy stores pushing dolls for boys, drills for girls

With firefighter kits for girls and baby dolls for boys, toys are breaking down decades-old gender barriers this Christmas thanks to retailers willing to brush aside some hard-to-shift stereotypes. The latest to chip away at old cliches is French supermarket Super-U, which has printed a holiday season catalogue showing boys…

Nurse taken in by radio hoax laid to rest in India

Family and friends of the nurse who was found hanged after taking a hoax call to the hospital treating Prince William’s wife prepared for her funeral on Monday in a small town in southwest India. Indian-born Jacintha Saldanha, 46, apparently committed suicide after answering the prank telephone call from two…

China cracks down on doomsday rumors

China has detained dozens of people, some of whom it terms doomsday cult members, as part of a nationwide crackdown on rumours about a supposed forthcoming apocalypse, state media said. Authorities in five different areas have detained 52 people for spreading predictions of a December 21 “doomsday” linked to the…

Pussy Riot member opens up about prison camp routine

One of Russia’s jailed Pussy Riot punks complained Monday of grey monotony and strict rules in her prison camp in the Urals mountains, in her first detailed account of her experiences. In an article in The New Times weekly, Maria Alyokhina, 24, described her first weeks at Corrective Labour Colony…

Thousands flee as Cyclone Evan batters Fiji

Thousands of people fled to evacuation centres in Fiji on Monday as a powerful cyclone lashed the Pacific nation, causing power outages and flash flooding, officials said. Tropical Cyclone Evan pummelled the main island Viti Levu with winds exceeding 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph) bringing down trees, blocking roads…

Europe must work hard to maintain welfare system: Germany’s Merkel

Europe will have to work “very hard” to maintain its generous welfare system and remain competitive, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview Monday. “If Europe today accounts for just over 7.0 percent of the world’s population, produces around 25 percent of global GDP (gross domestic product) and…

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