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Syria: from revolution to all-out war

Syria’s uprising has shifted from popular street protests against President Bashar al-Assad to a full-fledged war, increasingly influenced by armed Islamists, in a far cry from the idealism of the Arab Spring. The fervour born in March 2011 for democratic reforms still runs high, but the initial peaceful protests against…

Thousands set for South Korea’s ‘battle of the singles’

Tens of thousands of lovelorn South Koreans are set to take part in a “battle of the singles” on Christmas Eve — a mass dating event triggered by an innocuous query posted on Facebook last month. More than 36,000 people have signed up for the event in a park in…

Serbian village stakes out its own vampire claim

The leering visage of a gap-toothed man with blood dripping down his stubbly chin is an unusual lure for tourists, but in this tiny Serbian hamlet of Zarozje, locals are hoping a resurrected vampire legend will let them bleed a little cash from passing visitors. Anyone entering the poor mountainous…

Britain’s ‘under-trained’ drone pilots create ‘significant risks’

Badly trained pilots are creating “significant risks” to Britain’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) programme, a military investigation has found. A probe by the Military Aviation Authority found that “increasing demands” on drones used for surveillance and intelligence-gathering were “constraining the length of time available to train and qualify” new pilots,…

Pentagon report faults Pakistan over Afghan war

Despite an easing of tensions with the United States, Pakistan is persistently undermining security in Afghanistan by permitting safe havens for insurgents, a Pentagon report said. In a biannual war assessment mandated by Congress, the Defense Department said that the 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan and their allies had succeeded…

Frail Nelson Mandela’s ‘sparkle fading’: wife

Ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was Tuesday spending a fourth day in hospital for more tests, as his wife said his trademark “sparkle” was waning. Looking calm in an interview with a local television network, Graca Machel did not give details about Mandela’s health status, just saying it was painful…

Dominique Strauss-Kahn court case settled as hotel maid receives rumored $6 million

A hotel maid who claims she was brutally sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn has settled her civil action against the former IMF chief for an undisclosed sum, a move that allows her to “move on with her life”, lawyers said. In Bronx supreme court yesterday, a judge announced that an…

New York judge’s ruling on $20 billion hedge fund sparks nationalist surge in Argentina

New York judge's ruling sparks nationalist surge in Argentina The stakes couldn’t be higher for Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as a legal tug-of-war with a $20 billion US hedge fund plays out in a New York case that has sent nationalist sentiment soaring in Argentina and raised concerns…

New UN plan to get girls in school boosted by Malala’s father

New UN plan to get girls in school boosted by Malala's father The Pakistani government and the United Nations’ education agency unveiled a plan today to motivate girls around the world to enroll in schools by the end of 2015.  Organizers dubbed it the “Malala Plan,” after Malala Yousufzai, the…

Ecuador says asylum for Syria’s Assad not ruled out

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, in an interview published Monday, said his country would consider granting asylum to his embattled Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. “Any person that requests asylum in Ecuador, obviously we are going to consider as a human being whose basic rights we have to respect,” he told the…

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