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Yemen’s ‘swap marriages’ can end in disaster, murder

The deal is simple: I marry your sister and you marry mine. No dowry necessary. But if one marriage fails, the other must end as well. Such is Sheghar, or swap marriage, a widely practised tradition in impoverished Yemen. Beyond tying the knot between two people, it links the future…

India’s first Playboy club adapts to modest norms

Playboy’s iconic “bunnies” will make a demure Indian debut next month serving drinks at the brand’s first club in the country, which will open despite a nationwide ban on the adult magazine. PB Lifestyle, the Indian firm with rights to the Playboy brand, will launch the club in the holiday…

Boat sinking in Bangladesh kills Muslims seeking refuge

Bangladeshi fishermen in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday searched for about 130 people missing after a boat sank while carrying Rohingya refugees heading for Malaysia. The boat went down off the coast near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar and about 13 passengers were reported to have survived, according to police…

Study: Voters in three states could approve billion-dollar ‘shock’ to Mexican cartels

If Washington, Colorado or Oregon legalize marijuana in next week’s statewide elections, the result won’t just be felt in those states: according to a study published this week, American voters appear set to back a massive “structural shock” to the Mexican drug cartels that could sap literally billions from their…

Norwegian plane aborts landing to avoid paying workers overtime

OSLO — A Norwegian plane carrying 40 passengers turned around and returned to an airport hundreds of kilometres away — despite having already started its descent — just so the crew would not have to work overtime. The plane was about to land in the small northern town of Mosjoen…

Britain’s PM David Cameron ‘humiliated’ by EU budget defeat

Prime Minister David Cameron was battling to reclaim authority on Thursday, after Conservative party rebels delivered his first major parliamentary defeat by defying him over the EU budget. MPs passed a motion late Wednesday urging Cameron to insist on a real-terms cut in the European Union’s trillion-euro 2014-2020 budget at…

Japanese construction workers find skeleton in closet

Construction workers in Japan uncovered secrets hidden in an old apartment they were demolishing when they found a skeleton in the closet, reports said Thursday. The skeleton, with its head resting neatly on a pillow and covered with a blanket, was in a cupboard in a building in northeast Tokyo,…

Britons abandon thousands of pets amid economic pain

Nearly 16,000 more animals were abandoned last year than in 2007 as pet owners struggled with tough economic conditions, the RSPCA said Thursday. The charity reported that 40,595 animals were abandoned in 2011, a 65 percent increase on 2007 when the figure was 24,638. It also said convictions for animal…

Three women killed in Madrid Halloween stampede

Three young women were crushed to death in a stampede at a Halloween celebration in Madrid apparently sparked when a partygoer threw a firework, police said Thursday. “Three victims were trampled to death and two others were injured,” a police spokesman told AFP. The disaster struck some time before 4…

Cash earmarked for Japan’s tsunami reconstruction ‘misspent’ according to government audit

Cash earmarked for tsunami reconstruction work was diverted to unrelated projects, a Japanese government audit showed as residents of the devastated northeast voiced frustration over the slow pace of rebuilding. Parts of the 14.9 trillion yen ($187 billion) were used to fund an array of unconnected works, including road-building on…

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