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Britain’s PM David Cameron ‘humiliated’ by EU budget defeat

Prime Minister David Cameron was battling to reclaim authority on Thursday, after Conservative party rebels delivered his first major parliamentary defeat by defying him over the EU budget. MPs passed a motion late Wednesday urging Cameron to insist on a real-terms cut in the European Union’s trillion-euro 2014-2020 budget at…

Japanese construction workers find skeleton in closet

Construction workers in Japan uncovered secrets hidden in an old apartment they were demolishing when they found a skeleton in the closet, reports said Thursday. The skeleton, with its head resting neatly on a pillow and covered with a blanket, was in a cupboard in a building in northeast Tokyo,…

Britons abandon thousands of pets amid economic pain

Nearly 16,000 more animals were abandoned last year than in 2007 as pet owners struggled with tough economic conditions, the RSPCA said Thursday. The charity reported that 40,595 animals were abandoned in 2011, a 65 percent increase on 2007 when the figure was 24,638. It also said convictions for animal…

Three women killed in Madrid Halloween stampede

Three young women were crushed to death in a stampede at a Halloween celebration in Madrid apparently sparked when a partygoer threw a firework, police said Thursday. “Three victims were trampled to death and two others were injured,” a police spokesman told AFP. The disaster struck some time before 4…

Cash earmarked for Japan’s tsunami reconstruction ‘misspent’ according to government audit

Cash earmarked for tsunami reconstruction work was diverted to unrelated projects, a Japanese government audit showed as residents of the devastated northeast voiced frustration over the slow pace of rebuilding. Parts of the 14.9 trillion yen ($187 billion) were used to fund an array of unconnected works, including road-building on…

China’s Communist Party prepares for power handover

China’s political elite are expected to oust disgraced figure Bo Xilai and jostle for leadership roles in their last formal meeting which opened Thursday ahead of next week’s landmark power handover. The Communist Party’s Central Committee convened behind closed doors, state media said, with 500 senior members to debate key…

Canada lawmakers ban masks at protests

OTTAWA — Parliament passed a ban on wearing masks at riots that punishes violations with up to 10 years behind bars in a bid to crack down on radical groups. The measure, adopted 153 to 126 on the Halloween holiday that sees revelers walk the streets in masks and costumed,…

Chinese heroin demand doubles poppy cultivation in Southeast Asia

Opium cultivation in Southeast Asia has doubled over the last six years as growing demand for heroin in China and the rest of Asia lures more farmers to grow poppies, the UN said Wednesday. Opiate users in East Asia and the Pacific now account for about a quarter of the…

Japan sees record low number of sumo wrestler applicants after hazing, drug and betting scandals

Japan’s tradition-steeped sport of sumo was wringing its collective hands on Wednesday after receiving a record-low number of applications from would-be wrestlers. Just one youngster put his name forward before the season-ending tournament in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, with one established wrestler saying he understood why so few people wanted to…

Sistine Chapel may limit visitors to prevent further fresco damage

As the Sistine Chapel celebrates its 500th anniversary, the Vatican has said it may have to limit the huge numbers of visitors because pollution is damaging Michelangelo’s frescoes. The scenes, including the moment in which God gives life to Adam with the touch of his finger, are being damaged by…

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