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Meet Marcelo Ebrard — the man who remade Mexico City

The man who remade Mexico City Jose Guadalupe Gonzalez walks among giant paper-mache renderings of fantastical dragons and serpents, called alebrijes, with his wife and two teenage daughters in the middle of Mexico City’s Zocalo to celebrate Day of the Dead. Later, the family considered catching a play for free,…

Pakistan suspends mobile phone network over security fears

Pakistan suspended mobile phone services in major cities on Friday to prevent terror attacks from marring commemorations for the holy month of Muharram, officials said. Mobile and wireless phone services were temporarily blocked in the commercial capital Karachi, the southwestern city of Quetta and in parts of the capital. It…

Delhi government widens ban on plastic: ‘Plastic is an environmental disaster’

The Delhi government imposed a blanket ban on the use of all plastic bags on Friday in an attempt to tackle the city’s mounting rubbish problems, an official said. Thin plastic bags — measuring less than 40 microns thick — were banned in India’s capital in 2009, but the new…

Activists slam marriage of 12-year-old in Malaysia

Malaysian activists on Friday slammed the wedding of a 12-year-old to her 19-year-old boyfriend, renewing their calls for the government to outlaw child marriages. Nur Fazira Saad and Fahmi Alias married last week in northern Kedah state after the girl’s father agreed to the union and an Islamic court granted…

Japan’s secret economic weapon: women

In next month’s general election, politicians — nearly all of them men — will make promises on what they will do to fix Japan’s economic morass. Very few of them will even mention women. The country’s problems are well known: more older people are living longer as the workforce that…

Cross-dressing Chinese grandfather finds fame

A 72-year-old Chinese man who became an Internet sensation after his granddaughter used him as a cross-dressing model to promote her clothing store, was delighted at his new-found fame, she said. Lu Qing, who lives in southern China’s Guangdong province, posted pictures of her grandfather dressed in an array of…

Rival protests as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi grants himself sweeping powers

Hundreds turned out on Thursday in support of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s new declaration granting him sweeping powers, as a rival protest criticised “the making of new dictator.” “The people want the cleansing of the judiciary,” chanted hundreds of Islamist protesters, who had gathered outside the High Court three hours…

Iran cautiously backs Gaza truce deal

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a qualified welcome Thursday to a truce deal between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Egypt to end eight days of violence that killed six Israelis and 163 Palestinians. “I agree that the truce is a good thing, but we will have to see the basis…

Call us Mexico, not ‘United States of Mexico’: president

President Felipe Calderon has one last wish before he leaves office next week: Please change the country’s name from “United States of Mexico” to just “Mexico.” The country has officially been named the United States of Mexico since 1824, but Calderon said Thursday it was time for the country to…

EU ends shark finning, practice of mutilating, leaving sharks to die

The European parliament on Thursday called a definitive halt to shark finning, the long contested practice of fishermen slicing off fins and throwing the live body overboard to drown. The EU prohibited shark finning in 2003, but an exemption allowed fishermen with special permits to remove the fins from their…

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