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Online dealers illegally trade in endangered wildlife

Bashful and skittish, the Kaiser’s spotted newt is intriguing and beautiful. With only around 1,000 adults left in the wild in just four mountain streams in Iran, it is also critically endangered. But the black, white and orange salamanders are openly on sale for as little as £65 on numerous…

China suspends official over drunken plane ‘assault’

A Chinese military official has been suspended and placed under investigation over accusations of a drunken assault on a flight attendant, state media said Tuesday. Fang Daguo was suspended from his job with the armed forces department of the southern city of Guangzhou, the state-run China Daily said, after an…

Maldivian teenage girl faces lashing for pre-marital sex

A court in the Maldives has ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having pre-marital sex, in a ruling that Tuesday triggered widespread criticism from rights groups. The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained she had sex with…

Gaza teen dies after setting self alight

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — A 17-year-old Gazan died on Sunday, four days after setting himself alight in desperation over financial problems, medical sources and his family said on Monday. Ehab Abu al-Nada from Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, set himself on fire on Wednesday outside the city’s Al-Shifa hospital,…

FARC rebel chief confirms Colombia peace talks

BOGOTA — The leader of Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels confirmed Monday they were ready to sit down at the peace negotiating table in a bid to end Latin America’s last armed conflict, now nearly 50 years old. “We come to the table for dialogue without rancor, or arrogance,” FARC leader…

Former Unification Church member: ‘I was a Moonie cult leader’

Steven Hassan joined the Unification Church in the 1970s and was a member for more than two years. He now works as a counsellor and has written books about cults and their techniques. I consider myself to be an independent thinker. I was an advanced honours student. I had skipped…

Britain wants to resume Assange talks with Ecuador

Britain wants to resume talks with Ecuador and find a diplomatic solution to the standoff over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as soon as possible, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday. Addressing parliament, Hague also said Assange could not be extradited from Sweden to a third country without Britain’s consent, which would not be given if there was a prospect of…

‘Smoker’s paradise’ Lebanon enacts smoking ban

A smoking ban in all closed public spaces, including coffee shops, restaurants and bars, went into force in Lebanon on Monday under new legislation that promises hefty fines for lawbreakers. In a country considered a “smokers’ paradise,” the law took effect a year ago in airports, hospitals and schools, but took hold on a wider…

Italy mourns liberal Catholic cardinal who said church was ’200 years behind’

Italy‘s business capital of Milan ground almost to a halt on Monday as the people of the city – believers and non-believers alike – bid farewell to a beloved pastor, and perhaps too to the hope of a more liberal form of Catholicism that he embodied. In a startlingly explicit interview published…

Outgoing Mexico president says the U.S. shares blame for drug violence

MEXICO CITY — Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon blamed loose US gun laws and American addicts for fueling his country’s drug violence as he defended his controversial anti-cartel offensive on Monday. Presenting the final annual report of his presidency, Calderon insisted that his 2006 decision to deploy thousands of troops…

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