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Israel’s Navy takes over Gaza-bound ship Estelle

Israeli troops on Saturday boarded a boat carrying pro-Palestinian MPs and activists seeking to run its naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, blocking the latest attempt to reach the enclave by sea, the military said. The operation, which the military said was concluded peacefully, ended the latest bid by activists…

E.U. ‘regrets’ Israeli settlement plan

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has criticised Israel’s plan to build hundreds of homes in annexed east Jerusalem and called for it to hold fresh talks with the Palestinians. Catherine Ashton “deeply regrets” the Israeli interior ministry decision to back the expansion of the Gilo settlement by 797 units,…

Boom times upset calm in Buddhist retreat

Once the refuge of pious Tibetan monks and a few hippie travellers, Dharamshala in the Himalayan foothills is today a crowded and chaotic town where long-term residents fear for its future. More correctly known as McLeod Ganj, it suffers from the same traffic jams, wail of car horns, construction work…

Argentine threatens UN action against Ghana over ship seizure

Argentina threatened to take Ghana before the United Nations if it refuses to take responsibility for the seizure earlier this month of a warship belonging to Buenos Aires. “Argentina is keeping all its options open in terms of international justice and, if necessary, will turn to the United Nations,” Foreign…

Lagerfeld draws flak for calling French president an ‘idiot’

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was in hot water on Friday after calling French President Francois Hollande an “idiot” over his plans to impose huge taxes on the rich. Hollande’s former companion and a one-time presidential contender Segolene Royal led the charge, saying the Paris-based German designer must apologise immediately. “There…

Bosnian scrap metal thief steals iron bridge

A Bosnian scrap metal dealer raised his sights from stealing and illegally selling metal drain covers and made off with an entire iron bridge, local police in the northeast of the country said Friday. “A few hours after we were informed about this most unusual crime we detained a suspect,…

Brazil’s emerging middle class stars in hit soap opera

Loud, coarse, but hard-working and supportive, the fictional denizens of a Rio suburb hold a mirror up to Brazil’s emerging middle class in a wildly popular soap opera. Brazilian telenovelas have traditionally depicted the melodramas of the elite, but Globo TV’s “Avenida Brasil” breaks new ground by turning the spotlight…

Spanish unions call general strike November 14

Spain’s labour unions Friday called a general strike for November 14, the second such blanket action this year against the government’s biting austerity measures. The UGT and CCOO unions said they had approved the multi-sector strike as part of a broader day of action called by the European Trade Union…

French edition of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ flies of shelves

The “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon barrelled into France this week with sales of the bondage-fuelled erotic romance rivalling the Harry Potter franchise two days after its release. Some 40,000 copies of the “mommy porn” hit — which has sold some 40 million copies worldwide — flew off the shelves…

Sting moves Philippine concert over disagreement about pine trees

MANILA — Rock superstar Sting has forced organisers to move his planned one-night show in the Philippines to another Manila venue amid a spat over pine trees involving the original hosts, it was announced Friday. The Manila leg of his “Back to Bass Tour” on December 9 will now be…

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