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Julian Assange to make public speech on Thursday

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will mark six months holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London next Thursday with a public speech, the whistle-blowing website announced on Sunday. WikiLeaks released a Twitter message reading: “London, Thursday December 20, 7PM: Julian Assange to address the crowd in front of the Ecuadorian…

Mennonites find prosperity in Paraguay outback

With Bible in hand as a shield against adversity, Paraguay’s Mennonites have celebrated their bounty 85 years after settling in the inhospitable plains known as El Chaco. Established in 1927 by Mennonites fleeing Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin, the deeply pacifist Protestant community has survived and flourished to…

Crisis threatens historic Harry’s Bar in Venice

One of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite watering holes, the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice, is being forced to slash costs due to rising debts and a sharp drop in visitors. The canalside bar opened in 1931 in a narrow alley next to the city’s famous St Mark’s Square and quickly became…

Egypt opposition alleges referendum rigging as Muslim Brotherhood claims victory

Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing says 56.5% voted for draft constitution but opposition warns of violations in first round poll Recriminations have broken out over Egypt’s constitutional referendum even before the two-stage vote has been completed, with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming victory and the opposition complaining of rigging and insisting the…

Japan moves to the right as conservatives win big in polls

Japan’s conservative opposition swept to victory in national polls Sunday, giving former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a second chance to promote his hawkish security agenda and reflate the economy. Voters decisively abandoned Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda three years after his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) promised a change from more…

Rebel Anglican clergy ‘to bless gay marriages’

Rebel Church of England clergy will bless gay marriages carried out in other churches if Anglicans are exempted from a new law on same-sex marriage, some 150 vicars and campaigners said in a letter published on Sunday. Anglicans including ex-Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries and dozens of clergy wrote to…

Fears of ‘catastrophic damage’ as cyclone nears Fiji

Fijian authorities scrambled to evacuate residents from low-lying areas Sunday as a monster cyclone threatened the Pacific nation with “catastrophic damage” after causing widespread devastation in Samoa. At least four people were killed when Cyclone Evan slammed into Samoa and the toll was expected to rise as a search was…

Scientists warn auto rally over endangering fossils

Palaeontologists have warned that the Dakar Rally, which will thunder through Peru and Chile next month, poses a serious risk to whale and dolphin fossils dating back more than 20 million years. Scientists issued their warning to highlight claims that the 2012 edition of the gruelling 8,400 kilometre endurance event…

Historian examines famed Austrian composer’s ‘Nazi’ past

Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, a major figure in 20th-century classical music, was a bigger fan of the Nazis than he made out, according to a historian who has unearthed previously unseen documents. “It is time to probe scientifically the claims that Karajan constructed and cobbled together … and which…

Dispute over livestock slaughter in Poland reaches political stage

Banning the ritual slaughter of livestock for food, a bedrock of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, has split Poland into opposing camps of religious groups, animal rights campaigners and flourishing meat exporters. Animal rights activists backed by left-wing politicians last month won a key victory when Poland’s Constitutional Court voided…

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