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Swedish police launch investigation into artist claiming to use Holocaust ashes in work

Swedish police on Friday said they had launched an investigation into an artist who says he used paint mixed from the ashes of Holocaust victims in a watercolour. Carl Michael von Hausswolff claims he used ashes he took from a crematorium at the Majdanek concentration camp in 1989, mixing them…

Afghanistan’s intelligence chief target of underwear bomber

The suicide bomber who tried to assassinate Afghanistan’s spy chief detonated a bomb hidden in his underwear, the intelligence agency said Friday. Asadullah Khalid, who heads the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was targeted by a bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy in a spy agency guesthouse in the…

Beneath the burqa: Afghan women opt for cosmetic surgery

Despite living much of their lives behind a veil, some Afghan women are feeling pressure to conform to ideals of female beauty and are lining up for cosmetic surgery at a handful of clinics in Kabul. A few years ago, most operations would have been to repair war wounds or…

Egypt opposition refuses dialogue with Morsi

Egypt’s opposition coalition rejected on Friday a dialogue proposed by President Mohamed Morsi to defuse bloody protests over sweeping powers he assumed to speed through a new constitution. The National Salvation Front said it had decided “to refuse to take part in a dialogue proposed by the president for tomorrow,…

U.S. diplomat hopes song can win over Pakistan

A US official is taking a novel approach to diplomacy in Pakistan — singing in a local language to build bridges in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, where anti-Americanism runs rampant. Shayla Cram, a public diplomacy officer assigned to Peshawar, the gateway to Al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in…

UN urges Palestinians to stay out of Syria conflict

The half a million Palestinian refugees living in Syria should keep out of the country’s conflict and their neutrality be respected, UN Relief and Works Agency chief Filippo Grandi told AFP. “The Palestinians should remain neutral and everybody should respect that. Nobody should put them into the crisis,” Grandi said…

Motor mutts learn to drive in New Zealand

Rather than chasing cars, dogs in New Zealand are being taught to drive them — steering, pedals and all — in a heartwarming project aimed at increasing pet adoptions from animal shelters. Animal trainer Mark Vette has spent two months training three cross-breed rescue dogs from the Auckland SPCA to…

Tsunami alert after 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocks Japan: NHK Broadcasting tells citizens to ‘flee to higher ground’

Japanese authorities issued a tsunami alert for the northeast coast Friday after a powerful 7.3-magnitude undersea earthquake struck, setting buildings in Tokyo swaying violently. Media reports said a one-metre-high wave could sweep ashore in an area badly hit by the March 2011 tsunami that devastated a large swathe of the…

U.S. again warns Syria on chemical weapons

The United States has intelligence which raises “serious concerns” that Syria is considering employing chemical weapons in its war with rebel forces, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday. “Without commenting on the specific intelligence that we have with regards to these chemical weapons, I think there is no question…

Algerian police seize 19 tons of marijuana

Algerian police have seized 19 tonnes of cannabis resin in the western Tlemcen region, near the Moroccan border, and arrested four suspected traffickers, an Algerian daily reported on Thursday. The seizure was made on Wednesday at a farm in the border village of Akid Lotfi, where four people, including the…

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