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Record 40,000 people jump into North Sea for annual Dutch New Year’s dive

A record 40,000 people braved icy temperatures on the Netherlands’s North Sea coast Tuesday to take a cold plunge, setting a new record for the traditional New Year’s Day dip, organisers said. “There were around 10,000 swimmers in Scheveningen and a record number of 40,000 across the Netherlands,” spokeswoman Jiske…

British man killed in New Year’s gang shoot-out at Thai resort

A 22-year-old British tourist was shot dead as he danced at a New Year party on one of Thailand’s most famous islands after a fight between rival Thai gangs erupted on the beach, police said on Tuesday. Stephen Ashton was killed when a Thai man opened fire at a bar…

Africa’s energy consumption fastest growing in the world

As the sun sets over Africa each day, instead of flicking a light switch or heating up the oven, most people put a match to a kerosene lantern or a burning ember to a charcoal stove.  Africa, home to 15 percent of the world’s population, consumes just 3 percent of…

‘Compensation log’ obtained under Freedom of Information Act illustrates human cost of Afghan war

The killing of six members of a family, including a mother and her children, when a rocket overshot a target and hit the compound in which they were living are among the incidents in recent months for which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out compensation to Afghan civilians.…

Il Duce is back: New reverence for fascist dictator Benito Mussolini spreads across Italy

Pasquale Moretti pulls the latest Benito Mussolini calendar off the shelf at his Rome cafe and flips it open to a photo of the pouting, strutting dictator taking part in a grain harvest. “I was born in that era and he put bread on the table,” said the 78-year-old. “I…

Cannibalism suspected in India tea plantation worker uprising

Police in northeast India say they believe workers on a tea plantation who bludgeoned their boss and his wife to death last month also ate parts of their bodies. A crowd of 1000 workers at the privately-owned M.K.B. Tea Estate in the state of Assam surrounded the plantation owner’s bungalow…

Fireproofing ‘inadequate’ at Japan nuclear reactors

Japanese regulators have found inadequate fireproofing at more than one fifth of the nuclear reactors that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima crisis, a major daily said on Tuesday. The finding could delay their restart by several years in some cases, the Mainichi Shimbun said. More than 10 of Japan’s…

Iraq December death toll down despite wave of unrest

Deadly violence in Iraq dropped to near its lowest levels of 2012 in December, figures compiled by AFP showed on Tuesday, despite a wave of attacks a day earlier which killed 23 people. Overall, 139 people were killed across the country last month, including 40 policemen and 15 soldiers, and…

Pope slams ‘unregulated financial capitalism’ in New Year’s message

Pope Benedict XVI prayed for world peace, condemning the inequality between rich and poor and “unregulated financial capitalism” at a New Year’s mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday. The pope spoke of “hotbeds of tension and confrontation caused by the growing inequality between rich and poor and the prevalence…

Pakistan suffers ‘record’ child measles deaths

More than 300 Pakistani children died of measles last year, a staggering increase on the previous 12 months and a result of three consecutive years of flooding, officials said Tuesday. The United Nations’ World Health Organization said 306 children died of the highly infectious illness last year, 210 of them…

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