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Palestinian president cheered on return from UN

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas returned to the West Bank on Sunday after winning upgraded UN status for the Palestinians, telling cheering crowds: “Yes, now we have a state.” “Palestine has accomplished a historic achievement at the UN,” Abbas added, three days after the United Nations General Assembly granted the Palestinians…

Shooting instructor kills two in France over noisy party

A gun instructor in southern France enraged at his neighbour for staging a noisy party went on a shooting rampage, killing two people and wounding two others, police said. The 49-year-old man, an instructor at a shooting range, went to his downstairs neighbours in the town of Sete, asking them…

Middle Eastern diplomats condemn Israeli settlement plans

Arab and Turkish foreign ministers on Saturday condemned Israel’s plans to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem after the Palestinians won non-member observer status at the United Nations. The ministers “condemned the Israeli decision to establish 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” according to a…

Iraqi PM warns country to be wary of ‘ethnic conflict’

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday warned of the danger of “ethnic conflict” in Iraq, after negotiations aimed at easing Arab-Kurd tensions in the country’s north stalled this week. “If conflict erupts, it would be unfortunate and painful, and it will be an ethnic conflict” that is “not in the…

Internet restored in Syria after three-day blackout

Internet and telephone services resumed in Damascus on Saturday after a three-day blackout, an AFP reporter and state news agency SANA said, as a watchdog said they were up in most parts of Syria. “Internet is back in Damascus and in parts of Damascus province,” the correspondent said, adding that…

Former Georgian PM investigated over fake passport

Georgian police on Saturday questioned a former prime minister over the alleged use of a fake passport, further raising tensions between the government and President Mikheil Saakashvili, who says his allies are being persecuted. “An investigation was opened into the use of a forged document and an attempt of illicit…

Egyptian President Morsi calls for December referendum on constitution

President puts faith in popular vote to silence critics of government’s sweeping powers as about 50,000 rally in Cairo Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has announced a snap referendum on a new constitution that has already deepened divisions in a country still struggling to find its identity more than a year…

Ahmadinejad reshuffles controversial aides

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shifted two of controversial aides into new jobs on Saturday, state news agency IRNA reported. Chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie was appointed as an advisor and secretariat head of the Non-Aligned Movement, whose presidency Iran took over this past summer. Mashaie, the bane of ultra-conservatives…

Ecuadorian president warns of risks to Assange health

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa warned Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is at risk of deteriorating health if he remains holed up for much longer in Quito’s embassy in London. In an exclusive interview in the Peruvian capital Lima, Correa said Assange’s health concerns could worsen dramatically if his now…

Stigma for Central America’s HIV-positive kids

Four-year-old Carlos, who makes a lengthy trip every two weeks with his teenage aunt to a special clinic in El Salvador’s capital, has no notion of the cruel stigma that comes with his HIV diagnosis. Governments and aid groups across the region are organizing official parades and cultural events Saturday…

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