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Cyclone Evan leaves trail of destruction in Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Evan left a swathe of destruction across Fiji Tuesday after battering the Pacific nation for more than 12 hours, destroying homes, flooding rivers and stranding thousands of tourists. Despite the damage, officials reported no fatalities as the storm headed out to sea early Tuesday and was downgraded a…

High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages

In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years. As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a…

Mexico to create new police force to fight drug cartels

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the creation of a national police force to crack down on crime and battle the country’s powerful drug cartels. The force — a gendarmerie based on the model of Spain’s Guardia Civil — would be 10,000 strong. Currently Mexico has a patchwork of city…

Russians frantically prepare for Mayan apocalypse

The apocalypse is surely near when Ramzan Kadyrov emerges as the voice of reason. The ruthless leader of Chechnya is among dozens of Russians officials, priests, doctors and psychiatrists aiming to calm an anxious populace frantically preparing for the end of the world later this week. “People are buying candles…

Canada to privatize its medical marijuana industry

Canada’s Conservative government will soon stop producing and distributing medical marijuana, leaving it up to the private sector in a policy change that angered critics on Monday. Canada’s Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq made the announcement on Sunday, claiming current regulations “have left the system open to abuse.” “We have heard…

Russia to vote on banning U.S. adoptions

The Russian parliament will vote this week on a bill banning adoption of Russian children by Americans, in retaliation to the Magnitsky Act passed by the United States last week, lawmakers said Monday. The Russian bill, unofficially named the “Dima Yakovlev bill”, was approved in an initial reading Friday in…

French elephants scheduled for euthanization get Christmas reprieve

Two ailing middle-aged elephants that French officials wanted to put down have been given a Christmas reprieve after an appeal to President Francois Hollande and an Internet campaign to save them. Baby and Nepal, who both have tuberculosis, had been deemed a threat to other animals at their zoo in…

Chinese police say man who stabbed 23 children ‘influenced’ by Mayan doomsday ‘prediction’

Chinese police suspect man who stabbed 23 kids 'influenced' by doomsday rumor (via The Christian Science Monitor) Chinese police said Monday that the man who stabbed 23 children in a rural Chinese elementary school just hours before the Newtown massacre may have been “influenced” by doomsday predictions. A belief that…

World’s oldest person dies in Iowa at 115

The world’s oldest person — an Iowa woman who scrubbed floors until she turned 90 — died Monday at age 115, less than two weeks after earning her venerable distinction. Dina Manfredini, a native of Italy, died at the Bishop Drumm Retirement Center outside Des Moines, Iowa, said its director,…

Charges of necrophilia dismissed against Swedish woman who kept human bones

A Swedish woman who kept human skulls and bones in her apartment was sentenced Monday to probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric care after being convicted of “disturbing the peace of the dead.” The prosecution had argued that the 37 year-old woman, who has a history of unemployment and substance…

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