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UK government proposes allowing same sex civil marriages

The British government said Tuesday it was proposing to allow same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies, but would ban the established Churches of England and Wales from conducting ceremonies. Culture minister Maria Miller said the proposed law would allow other religious institutions to “opt-in” to conduct ceremonies.…

Security group: China will be dominant world economic power by 2030

No state will replace US militarily, says National Intelligence Council, but climate change will create great instability A US intelligence portrait of the world in 2030 predicts that China will be the largest economic power, that climate change will create instability by contributing to water and food shortages, and that…

Bedouins brave elements to attend bamboo school

It takes a certain kind of dedication to be a pupil at the Jahalin primary school, where children often walk for hours across tough desert terrain just to get there. Others come by donkey to this small but thriving Bedouin school tucked away in an inhospitable corner of the Judaean…

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…

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