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Defectors say Syrian state journalists ‘kill with words’

Lama al-Khadra summed up her work for Radio Damascus with a grim phrase: “Our mission was to kill with words.” Along with two other journalists for the state-run radio station, Khadra met with journalists in Paris on Friday after the three fled to France to join with opponents of President…

US-Russia spat puts adoption couple in limbo

Heather and Aaron Whaley just wanted to start a family with a four-year-old Russian girl nicknamed Addie who they found on the Internet but have yet to see in person. Never did they expect to find themselves caught up in a souring of relations between Moscow and Washington over human…

Rape victim dies after inspiring wave of protests in India

The woman who was brutally gang-raped and beaten in New Delhi, India, on Dec. 16 died at a hospital in Singapore where she was being treated, reported the Associated Press. A hospital statement say she “died peacefully.” News of the rape sparked days of demonstrations, which turned violent at times.…

Pakistan Taliban chief with $5 million US bounty on head ‘open to talks’

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud said his organisation could be open to talks with Islamabad in a video released Friday, but poured scorn on the idea his men would give up their guns. Mehsud, who has a $5 million US government bounty on his head, said the militant group would…

China court orders Apple to pay for copyright violation

Technology giant Apple has been ordered to pay compensation to eight Chinese writers and two companies for selling unlicensed books online, state media reported. The California-based company was ordered to pay a total fine of 1.03 million yuan ($165,908) to the plaintiffs for violating their copyrights, Xinhua news agency said.…

Pharma firms tested drugs on East Germans: report

Major Western pharmaceutical companies carried out tests of medications in the 1980s on patients in communist East Germany, in some cases without the subjects’ knowledge, a media report said Friday. “We have documents showing there were contracts between Western drug companies and East German institutions for medical tests,” a staff…

West Bank settlers throw rocks at police sent to remove them

Stone-throwing Jewish settlers drove off Israeli security forces sent to dismantle buildings at a wildcat settler outpost near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, Israeli media said. Army radio said that five border policemen were lightly wounded by rocks and one “right-wing activist” was arrested. A military spokeswoman…

Japan’s foreign minster vows to patch up relations with China over island fight

Japan’s new foreign minister said Friday he would work to patch up ties with China, soured over a bitter territorial row that has blighted relations for months. “I believe it is very important to have good communication between the two governments, as well as between two foreign ministers,” Fumio Kishida…

Air pollution surges in Athens as residents choose cheaper wood-burning heat

Air pollution in Athens has surged in recent days because of people choosing wood over more expensive fuels to heat their homes in the grips of a continuing economic crisis, the environment ministry said Friday. Particulate matter has been measured at 150 milligrammes per cubic metre, or three times the…

U.S. condemns Russian ban on American adoptions

President signs bill preventing Americans from adopting Russian children in move Washington says is ‘politically motivated’ The US government has condemned as “politically motivated” a decision by the Kremlin to ban Americans from adopting Russian children, warning of a further wedge in relations with Moscow. President Vladimir Putin signed the…

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