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Saudi minister insists regional unrest will not affect hajj

The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca will not be affected by events in Syria and elsewhere across the region, Saudi Arabia’s interior minister said Saturday. “I don’t expect pilgrims or the pilgrimage to be affected by what is taking place elsewhere, whether Syria or any other place,” the minister, Prince…

Malala Yousafzai can make smooth recovery, doctors say

Taliban bullet grazed Pakistani girl’s brain but doctors say she is writing, has memory and has expressed gratitude for support By Caroline Davies, The Guardian Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl flown to Britain for treatment after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan, has the potential to…

Hong Kong customs seize four tons of smuggled ivory

Hong Kong customs officers seized almost four tonnes of ivory worth about $3.4 million, hidden in shipments from Kenya and Tanzania, officials said Saturday. The 1,209 pieces of raw ivory tusk and a small number of ivory ornaments were discovered in two containers marked “plastic scrap” and “roscoco beans”, shipped…

Mexico wants kids to slim down

Mexico, second in obesity in the world after the United States, wants its children to cut down on the soft drinks and fatty foods that have made them the chubbiest kids in Latin America. Worried about the growing waistlines in schools, the public education ministry has launched a campaign to…

Argentina protest calls for more skate parks

Thousands of skateboarders stormed the central Plaza de Mayo in Argentina’s capital Saturday in a noisy demonstration to demand more public space for their sport. The demonstration — organized over social media networks — surprised police officers, who watched traffic get interrupted while protesters, mainly teenagers, shouting “skate, skate, skate”…

Hundreds of pilgrims evacuated as floods swamp Lourdes

Floods caused by days of non-stop rain in southwest France caused the closure of most of the Catholic sanctuary of Lourdes Saturday and the evacuation of hundreds of pilgrims, local authorities said. “We are evacuating all the hotels in the lower town,” an official from the regional prefecture told AFP.…

Mob sexually assaults French reporter in Egypt’s Tahrir Square

A French female television reporter was sexually assaulted during a protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, she told AFP on Saturday, the latest in a series of such attacks on women covering unrest in Egypt. Sonia Dridi, a correspondent for France 24, said a mob of mostly young men surrounded her…

Tens of thousands rally in London against austerity

Government spending cuts brought some tens of thousands of people onto the streets of London and other British cities on Saturday in protest, with union leaders expected to call for a general strike. Marchers carried signs reading “No cuts” and “Tax justice not tax havens”, condemning the austerity measures introduced…

Libya ‘not fully liberated’ year after Kadhafi death

The new Libyan authorities said on Saturday the country has not yet been “fully” liberated, exactly a year since the killing of Moamer Kadhafi and against the backdrop of clashes in one of his last bastions. “The campaign to liberate the country has not been fully completed,” Mohammed Megaryef, the…

Lebanon reeling after deadly Syria-linked blast

Lebanon was reeling Saturday after a top security official was killed in a bombing that was blamed on Syria and also raised fears the country is being sucked into the war ravaging its neighbour. The authorities have called a day of national mourning for those killed in Friday’s powerful rush-hour…

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