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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…

Ecuador says Assange doing ‘fine’ in London embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange endured a “difficult” start to his stay at Ecuador’s London embassy but is now “fine” after living there for more than five months, the country’s ambassador to Britain said Thursday. The former hacker turned up at the embassy in June in a bid to avoid extradition…

Stem cell pioneer sues Nobel assembly over ‘false’ statement

A pioneer of stem cell research is suing the assembly that awards the Nobel medicine prize, in a first such lawsuit, over claims it made about this year’s winners, a spokeswoman said Thursday. Rongxiang Xu, who describes himself as the founder of “human body regenerative restoration science” claims he made…

Russia upset after U.S. vows to punish human rights violators

The US Congress drew a furious response from the Kremlin on Thursday by passing legislation that targeted human rights abusers in the prison death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Voting 92-4, the US Senate approved establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia, ending Cold War-era restrictions, but also requiring sanctions…

Typhoon-hit Philippines tells climate talk attendees: ‘Open your eyes’

The Philippines urged bickering UN climate negotiators in Doha on Thursday to take heed of the deadly typhoon that struck the archipelago this week and wake up to the realities of global warming. Philippine climate envoy Naderev Sano made an emotive appeal for action as the annual United Nations gathering…

WHO: Sudan yellow fever outbreak worst in decades

An outbreak of mosquito-borne yellow fever which has killed at least 165 people in Sudan’s Darfur region is Africa’s worst in decades, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday. “Definitely, this outbreak now could be classed as the largest outbreak” since at least 1990, WHO country representative Anshu Banerjee told…

Tests begin on pill that could treat African sleeping sickness

Tests on a new pill that could revolutionise treatment for the tens of thousands of people in Africa infected with life-threatening sleeping sickness have started in two countries, a non-profit pharmaceutical group said Thursday. “This is a major step in research and development for neglected tropical diseases,” said Bernard Pecoul,…

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