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Dueling protests in Tokyo over dolphin and whale hunts

Environmentalists and nationalists held opposing rallies over the issue of Japan’s dolphin and whale hunts in a rare showdown in central Tokyo on Saturday, leading to angry scenes. About 50 anti-whaling activists gathered at a park in the Shibuya shopping district with banners bearing slogans such as “Stop the cruel…

Saudi-backed Austrian interfaith facility faces criticism

A new interreligious dialogue centre backed by Saudi Arabia is stirring up controversy in Vienna and abroad even before its official inauguration. The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue — in short KAICIID — will officially open its doors on Monday. But critics say that…

Police drama best film in Chinese-language ‘Oscars’

A Chinese police drama featuring a cast of amateur actors on Saturday became the surprise best picture winner at Taiwan’s annual Golden Horse Awards, dubbed the Chinese-language “Oscars.” “Beijing Blues,” directed by Gao Qunshu and about plain cloth police hunting down thieves and con artists in Beijing, also bagged best…

Shiites mix Ashura rituals with politics in Iraq

Shiite Muslims marching during Ashura rituals in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala on Saturday mixed mourning the death of Imam Hussein over 1,300 years ago with chants condemning modern politicians. Hundreds of black-clad Shiites walked toward the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was…

Basque separatists ready to disband if certain conditions met

Spain’s armed Basque separatist group ETA said Saturday it was ready to discuss disbanding and to negotiate with France and Spain if certain conditions are met, in a statement published on a Basque news site. The group, which last year said it had abandoned violence after a four-decade campaign for…

Frustration in Morocco, a year after elections

Morocco’s moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development swept to power in historic elections last year in the wake of Arab Spring protests that brought hopes of change. But a year on, analysts say disappointment is growing at the slow pace of reform, compounded by doubts about how much power…

Dubai plans new ‘city,’ world’s largest mall

Dubai, famed for its mega-projects before it was hit by the global financial crisis, on Saturday announced a new development to open the world’s biggest mall and a park larger than London’s Hyde Park. The ruler of the Gulf desert city state, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, announced the plan…

Africa’s first woman bishop admits ‘world is watching’

While the Church of England wrings its hands over the appointment of women bishops, Africa’s first woman Anglican bishop is determined to get on with the job without being hung up on the gender debate. “All leaders are ordained by God,” said 61-year-old Swazi primate Ellinah Wamukoya, skimming over the…

Egypt judges slam Morsi over ‘unprecedented attack’

Egyptian judges on Saturday slammed a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting him sweeping powers as “an unprecedented attack” on the judiciary, and courts across two provinces announced a strike. The constitutional declaration is “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings,” the Supreme Judicial Council…

Arafat body to be dug up Tuesday for poison test

The body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed on Tuesday to undergo poison tests, the head of the Palestinian inquiry team said on Saturday. “The tomb will be opened on November 27 and experts will take samples the same day within a matter of a few hours,” Tawfiq…

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