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Natural catastrophes caused $160 billion in damages in 2012

Natural catastrophes including US hurricane Sandy caused $160 billion (122 billion euros’) worth of damage in 2012, the world’s leading reinsurer, Munich Re, estimated on Thursday. “Last year, natural catastrophes caused $160 billion in overall losses and $65 billion in insured losses worldwide,” Munich Re said in a statement. About…

Activists express outrage over Hong Kong’s ‘shark fin rooftop’

Hong Kong conservationists expressed outrage on Thursday after images of a factory rooftop covered in thousands of freshly sliced shark fins emerged, as they called for curbs on the “barbaric” trade. The southern Chinese city is one of the world’s biggest markets for shark fins, which are used to make…

India debates naming new law after gang-rape victim

A call to name a new law targeting sexual violence in India after an anonymous woman who died last weekend following a gang rape has provoked a fierce debate in the country, where new details of the violent assault continue to provoke shock and outrage. The suggestion that the 23-year-old…

Iran claims to shoot down U.S. spy drone

Iran on Wednesday said it had shot down two US-made RQ-11 reconnaissance drones in the past 15 months, adding to a ScanEagle drone and RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft it already claims to have captured. “The army’s air defence shot down two… RQ-11 drones,” Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari told state television…

U.S. urges renewed Mideast peace effort in 2013

he United States Wednesday urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume direct talks in 2013 and move toward peace. “As we turn the calendar to 2013… now is the time for leaders on both sides to display real leadership, to focus on the work that’s necessary to return to direct…

Survey: Over three-quarters of professional soccer players say depression is a problem

Over three-quarters of professional footballers in England and Scotland believe depression is a problem in the sport, according to a survey published in British magazine FourFourTwo on Wednesday. The survey of 100 players, undertaken just over a year after the apparent suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed, who suffered from…

Poland bans genetically modified maize and potatoes

Poland on Wednesday imposed new bans on the cultivation of certain genetically modified strains of maize and potatoes, a day after an EU required green light for GM crops took effect. The centre-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk imposed farming bans on German BASF’s Amflora strain of potato and…

Famous French comic artist refuses top honor

One of France’s best-known comic book creators, Jacques Tardi, has refused the country’s highest honour saying he does not want to fall under any political influence. Tardi, best known for his works on the horrors of war and his Adele Blanc-Sec fantasy series, said he had learned this week that…

Israel says Egypt border fence near completion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday that the final section of a security fence along the border with Egypt’s barren Sinai should be finished by the end of March. Netanyahu on Wednesday attended a ceremony marking the completion of 230 kilometres (144 miles) of the barrier, with…

Armed gang robs Apple store in Paris

Armed robbers broke into an Apple store in central Paris on New Year’s Eve and made off with about one million euros ($1.3 million) in merchandise, police said. The four armed men broke into the shop behind the Palais Garnier Opera around 9:00 pm on Monday, about three hours after…

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