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Germany to sign new benefits accord for Nazi victims

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said a new agreement he will sign Thursday with the Jewish Claims Conference will help Holocaust survivors who had never received compensation. Schaeuble and JCC chief Julius Berman are to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Luxembourg Agreement in which West Germany…

Doctors Without Borders presses New Guinea government on rampant sexual violence

The president of Medecins Sans Frontieres pressed Papua New Guinea’s new government to address its epidemic levels of sexual and domestic violence Thursday, calling it a “humanitarian crisis”. Unni Karunakara was in the impoverished Pacific nation to visit MSF projects targeting family and sexual violence and met with officials from…

Myanmar frees prisoners before Obama visit

Myanmar began releasing hundreds of prisoners Thursday under a mass amnesty that comes just days before a landmark visit by US President Barack Obama to the formerly military-ruled nation. Relatives of the scores of political detainees still languishing in jails were waiting anxiously to learn whether they would be among…

Cambodia accused of serious graft in malaria fight

A major international aid fund has accused Cambodia of “serious” corruption in the use of money intended to combat malaria and other life-threatening diseases. The UN-backed Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria said a probe into the use of grants “uncovered credible and substantive evidence of serious financial…

Hamas says ‘gates of hell opened’ as Israel kills military leader in Gaza

Israel launched a military operation to eliminate militants and weapon sites in the Gaza Strip , killing the commander of Hamas’s military wing, in a move with potentially serious repercussions beyond its borders. The assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari in a missile strike in Gaza City was the “start of a…

GM scraps Opel-Peugeot Citroen merger plans: report

PARIS — General Motors has scrapped plans to merge its troubled German unit Opel with PSA Peugeot Citroen because of the French carmaker’s financial woes, a news report said Wednesday. “GM gave up in early November on the merger plan between Opel and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s auto division,” French financial…

UN report: Contraception access could save $57 billion worldwide

The world economy would be boosted by billions of dollars if all women had access to contraception, the United Nations said on Wednesday in its annual State of World Population report. The report said inadequate family planning in developing countries contributed significantly to poverty and ill health, and that $5.7…

Lebanese man swallowed 220 diamonds in smuggling scheme

South African police on Wednesday said they had caught a Lebanese man who swallowed 220 polished diamonds in an audacious bid to smuggle them from Johannesburg to Dubai. Officers arrested the 25-year-old at Johannesburg’s international airport carrying the gems, worth an estimated $2.3 million. “We nabbed him just before he…

Prime minister: Putin not suffering from ‘serious’ medical problems

President Vladimir Putin is not suffering from “serious” medical issues, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, amid speculation that health problems had forced the Russian strongman to cancel foreign trips. According to Russian media reports, Putin has postponed a number of foreign trips and largely stayed at his suburban Moscow…

Israeli company pushes bomb-sniffing mice at airports

An Israeli company is aiming to revolutionise the way explosives, narcotics and even money are detected at airports, docks and border crossings with the help of specially trained covert agents. These agents, however, aren’t just any regular agents. They are mice, which are being used as sniffer animals for the…

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