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Dutch Christian readies escape ark in anticipation of Mayan apocalypse

A Dutch Christian has painstakingly prepared a lifeboat in his garden capable of saving 50 people ahead of biblical floods he expects to accompany Friday’s Mayan-foretold ‘doomsday.’ “The Mayans weren’t crazy, and if you also look at biblical prophecies, the mountains will melt like wax,” Pieter Frank van der Meer…

Court rules Chagos Islanders gave up right to return during British expulsion in 1960s

Court in Strasbourg says islanders ‘renounced’ claims to island when they received compensation for resettlement Exiled Chagos Islanders living in Britain and Mauritius have said they are “dumbstruck” by a European court ruling that it has no jurisdiction to examine their forced expulsion by the British government in the 1960s.…

Paris’ Louvre is world’s most-visited museum

The Louvre said Thursday its new Islamic art wing helped cement its position as the world’s most-visited museum with nearly 10 million visitors in 2012, over a million more than last year. The exact figures will be released early next year, but in the meantime the Paris museum said there…

Queen of England to broadcast Christmas speech in 3D

Queen Elizabeth II will broadcast her annual Christmas message to Britain and the Commonwealth in 3D television for the first time, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday. Exactly 80 years after her grandfather king George V first started broadcasting a speech on December 25, the queen will embrace the new technology…

Pope puts Paul VI on path to sainthood

Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree on Thursday recognising the “heroic virtues” of late pope Paul VI, putting him on the first step towards beatification and eventual sainthood. Italian-born Giovanni Battista Montini, who was elected pope in 1963 and reigned until 1978, oversaw a complex series of reforms in the…

200th anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales triggers a year of celebration and cultural examination

Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and roots of Nazism on agenda at Kassel congress for 200th anniversary of brothers’ classic tales Once upon a time, two German brothers began collecting the best fairytales of their age. They gathered an array of stories involving princes and princesses, forests, castles and magic, but…

Dictator’s daughter Park Geun-hye elected South Korea’s first woman president

South Korea elects its first woman president, Park Geun-hye Park Geun-hye won a decisive victory Wednesday after a bitterly fought election for president of South Korea in which she overcame criticism of her legacy as the daughter of long-ruling dictator Park Chung-hee. So doing, she also overcame traditional barriers to…

‘Erin Brockovich’ toxin chromium-6 found at Japanese iron plant

THE toxic chemical made infamous by campaigning single mother Erin Brockovich has been found at up to 15,800 times safety limits in groundwater at a Japan iron plant, the factory’s operator said Thursday. Excessive amounts of hexavalent chromium were discovered at Nippon Denko’s plant in Tokushima in the country’s west…

Russia’s Putin denies propping up Syria’s Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and stressed that Moscow was only seeking to avert a perpetual civil war. “What is our position? Not to leave Assad’s regime in power at any price, but to first (let the Syrians) agree among themselves how…

Rape outcry shines light on India’s ‘misogyny’

Despite an outpouring of anger at a student’s gang-rape, observers say misogyny remains widespread in India where sex assaults are often dismissed as “teasing” and victims find themselves blamed for attacks. The Sunday night assault on a bus in New Delhi, which left the 23-year-old victim fighting for her life,…

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