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Phones and Internet cut for second day in Syria

Phone and Internet networks were down across most of Syria for a second straight day on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. “In some areas, it is possible to access the Internet but with great difficulty,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “It is also very difficult…

Strauss-Kahn settles out of court with maid in sexual assault case

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund and French politician, has reached a preliminary settlement with the Manhattan maid who accused him of sexual assault, The New York Times reported Thursday. According to the Times, quoting unidentified sources “with knowledge of the matter,” Strauss-Kahn and the…

Australia beaches reopen after strange red algal bloom

Beaches around southeastern Australia’s coastline reopened after a red algal bloom that glowed a phosphorescent blue at night forced them to close to the public. The algae, noctiluca scintillans, forced swimmers and surfers out of the water at Sydney’s Bondi and a number of neighbouring beaches earlier this week, and…

U.S. says Palestine statehood creates ‘obstacles’ to peace

The United States warned Thursday that a UN vote granting Palestine observer state status would create “obstacles” to peace between the Palestinians and Washington’s close ally Israel. “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace,” the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told…

Ecuadoran villagers drag Chevron to Canadian court

TORONTO — A 19-year court battle that resulted in a staggering US$18.3-billion judgment from an Ecuadoran court against Chevron last year moved to Canada on Thursday as the plaintiffs seek to collect. Ecuadoran villagers who brought the original lawsuit over decades of oil pollution in the Amazon are asking an…

UN elevates Palestine to a ‘nonmember observer state’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinians fired in the air, whistled and embraced each other in the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday after the General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. As the votes were cast, there was silence among the thousands gathered in the West Bank…

UN leader warns Middle East peace is on ‘life support’

UN leader Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday ahead of key vote on UN recognition of a Palestinian state that the Middle East peace process is on “life support”. But he told a UN meeting that only “direct negotiations” between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to a permanent settlement. Ban called…

Secretary Clinton unveils roadmap to AIDS-free generation

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled Thursday an ambitious US blueprint on how to realize the vision of an AIDS-free generation, aiming to see virtually no babies born with HIV by 2015. “Scientific advances and their successful implementation have brought the world to a tipping point in the fight against…

Web traffic monitors: Syria has been cut off from the Internet

Syria has effectively been cut off from the Internet, two US technology companies which monitor web traffic reported Thursday. Akamai, one of the firms which monitors global traffic, said traffic stopped from 1026 GMT, and that this supports the observation from another IT firm, Renesys, “that Syria is effectively off…

India to amend hate speech law after Facebook controversy

India is set to amend its hate speech laws following a public outcry over two women arrested for posting comments on Facebook after the death of hardline politician Bal Thackeray. The new guidelines by the communications and information technology ministry will make it harder for police to arrest people who…

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