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Britain’s Scouts consider accepting atheist members

Britain’s Scouts could welcome atheists into their ranks for the first time in 105 years as they seek to increase diversity, the association said Tuesday. The movement, led by British TV adventurer Bear Grylls, is launching a consultation to find out if its members would support an alternative version of…

Norwegian princess intervenes incognito on behalf of gay couple adopting baby in India

Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit rushed to India on her own dime in October to help care, incognito, for twins delivered by a surrogate until their parents, a Norwegian gay couple, could arrive, the palace said Monday. Mette-Marit flew to New Delhi to help care for the babies until their parents…

Starbucks to slash paid lunch breaks and sick leave in UK

Coffee chain sparks fresh concern over business practices amid fears low-paid staff will bear cost of potentially increased tax bill Starbucks is cutting paid lunch breaks, sick leave and maternity benefits for thousands of British workers, sparking fresh anger over its business practices. On the day the House of Commons’…

Syrian foreign ministry spokesperson quits

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi, a well-known advocate of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has resigned and is headed for London, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. “Makdisi was pressured by people inside the presidential palace, but not the president himself, to resign. He is now on…

IKEA founder determined to keep company private

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad is determined to keep the Swedish furniture giant off the stock exchange, he told AFP ahead of the inauguration Monday of a fellowship in honour of his late wife. Kamprad, 86, told AFP in an email he had “always believed that keeping (Ikea) in private hands…

Zambia court told HIV-positive prisoners denied access to drugs and food

Zambia’s High Court on Monday heard that HIV-positive prisoners were being denied access to life-prolonging drugs and a balanced diet, on the opening day of a landmark human rights case. Convicted prisoner George Mwanza has accused the authorities of violating his human rights and those of other HIV-positive inmates by…

Kate and Prince William expecting a baby

Prince William’s wife Catherine is expecting a baby and is in hospital suffering severe morning sickness, St James’s Palace announced on Monday. The royal family are “delighted” by the news of the baby, who would be the third in line to the British throne currently occupied by Queen Elizabeth II.…

Arab League leader: Syria’s Assad may fall ‘anytime’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is in danger of collapse “anytime” as the opposition gains ground on the military and political fronts, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi told AFP on Monday. “That could happen anytime,” the secretary general said in an exclusive interview. “Now they are fighting in Damascus,” and…

Pope to start tweeting just in time for Christmas

Pope Benedict XVI will join Twitter from December 12, with regular tweets in eight languages from the account @pontifex just in time for Christmas, the Vatican said on Monday. “The first tweets will be answers to questions sent to the pope on matters of faith. The public can start sending…

South Korea postpones rocket launch to 2013: official

South Korea has postponed its third bid to put a satellite in orbit until next year, after a technical problem forced the cancellation of last week’s scheduled launch, an official said Monday. “We have decided not to launch the rocket this month,” a science ministry official said. Engineers are now…

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