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Britain recognizes Syria opposition as fighting rages

DAMASCUS — Britain formally recognised a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people on Tuesday, as UN head Ban Ki-moon said he feared Syria could become a “regional battleground.” Britain’s recognition of the opposition National Coalition came as fighting raged across Syrian flashpoints, including in…

Clinton: U.S. commitment to Israeli security ‘rock solid’

JERUSALEM — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Jerusalem on Tuesday during Israel’s conflict in Gaza that Washington’s commitment to the Jewish state’s security remains “rock solid.” But the top US diplomat also stressed that Washington expected a quick de-escalation to a seven-day conflict that has shaken the…

Mexico ‘risks corn damage’ if GM maize is planted

MEXICO CITY — Environmentalists are warning that Mexico, the cradle of corn, risks damaging its staple if the government gives US firms the green light to plant genetically-modified maize in huge swaths of land. The agriculture ministry is examining the possibility of allowing Monsanto, DuPont and Dow to plant GMO…

Toronto faces lawsuits over plastic shopping bag ban

OTTAWA — The Canada Plastic Bag Association on Tuesday joined a growing number of groups suing Toronto, Canada’s largest city, to stop a proposed ban on plastic shopping bags. The association said its members “have a substantial economic interest in the manufacture, supply, distribution and sale of plastic bags in…

UN: More than 5 million children in Iraq lack ‘basic rights’

More than five million children in Iraq are deprived of “basic rights,” the United Nations said in a statement on Tuesday, calling for urgent action. “One in every third child in Iraq, 5.3 million children, is still currently deprived of many of their fundamental rights,” it quoted Marzio Babille, the…

Church of England rejects women bishops

The Church of England’s draft legislation approving women bishops failed to pass its governing body the General Synod by a razor-thin margin on Tuesday. The legislation needed a two-thirds majority among the three houses of bishops, clergy and laity, but failed by just a few voters among the laity.…

Pope publishes final volume of Jesus biography

Pope Benedict XVI has published the third and last volume of his biography of Jesus Christ, a highly personal work written under the theologian pope’s own name of Joseph Ratzinger. The tome devoted to Jesus’s childhood is being published in nine languages with a first edition of around a million…

Investment alliance with $22 trillion in assets pleads for urgent climate action

An alliance of some of the world’s largest investment groups, worth a combined total of $22 trillion in assets, urged world leaders this week to take calls for action on climate change seriously. Ceres, which represents institutional investment interests around the world, sent an open letter to the globe’s largest…

Israel drops leaflets warning Gaza residents to leave homes for ‘own safety’

Israel’s air force dropped leaflets across Gaza City on Tuesday urging people to evacuate their homes “immediately” amid fears the military was poised to launch a ground operation. “For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre,” the Arabic-language leaflet said,…

Foreigners work to save Spain’s Cava sparkling wine

Foreigners are throwing a lifeline to Catalonia’s famous bubbly, Cava, as it struggles against a Spanish recession and the risk of a boycott. Cava is a bit fruiter and about half the price of its posher French cousin champagne, with an average bottle going for about six euros ($8). It…

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