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China’s Communist Party opens pivotal congress

BEIJING — China’s all-powerful and secretive Communist Party on Thursday officially opened its 18th congress to unveil a new slate of leaders who will oversee the world’s number two economy for the next decade. Party number two Wu Bangguo declared the congress open inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People,…

Taliban urge Obama to pull troops out now

KABUL — Taliban insurgents told re-elected President Barack Obama Wednesday to admit that the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan and pull its troops out now. “Obama must by now know that they have lost the war in Afghanistan,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement posted on…

Canadians call for marijuana referendum after two U.S. states legalize it

OTTAWA — Canadian pot smokers and their supporters on Wednesday applauded the US states of Washington and Colorado for legalizing marijuana, and called for a similar change in Canada. The youth wing of Canada’s third-ranked Liberal Party said in a statement the result of the referendums in Tuesday’s US presidential…

Julian Assange says victorious Obama ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday described re-elected President Barack Obama was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and said he expected the US government to keep attacking the anti-secrecy website. Speaking to AFP by telephone from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he sought asylum in June in a bid…

‘Depressed lover’ kills five in Moscow shooting

MOSCOW — A 30-year-old Russian man suffering depression after a breakup went on a shooting spree Wednesday in his Moscow office, killing five and wounding another two after declaring his hatred for mankind, investigators said. Dmitry Vinogradov, 30, posted an online manifesto in which he proclaimed his “hatred for humankind…

7.4 magnitude earthquake hits Guatemala’s Pacific coast

A strong 7.4 magnitude quake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico on Wednesday, prompting panicked evacuations, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck at 1635 GMT some 24 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of…

Congolese gynecologist who worked with rape victims fears for his life

Celebrated Panzi gynaecologist Denis Mukwege who fled after armed raid seeks government protection for return to DR Congo A Congolese gynaecologist, honoured for his work with rape victims, says he dare not return home until his security is assured after narrowly surviving an assassination attempt last month. Denis Mukwege was saved by…

Germany gaining in Michelin-ranked restaurants

Germany has increased its tally of top-ranked restaurants in next year’s prestigious Michelin guide, unveiled here on Wednesday, and has a record number of eateries with star status. In bestowing three stars on La Belle Epoque restaurant in the northern town of Luebeck-Travemuende for 2013, Germany now has 10 restaurants…

German economy beginning to feel pinch of Europe’s debt crisis

The German economy, which long seemed immune to Europe’s debilitating debt crisis, is now feeling the pinch and growth will be hit in the fourth quarter, a panel of top economic experts said Wednesday. This assessment was backed up by new data showing that industrial output slumped in September, as…

France adopts marriage equality plan despite opposition

France’s Socialist government Wednesday adopted a draft bill to authorise gay marriage and adoption despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and others. “This is an important step towards the equality of rights,” said Minister of Family Affairs Dominique Bertinnoti. President Francois Hollande, who had made the issue a key…

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