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Catholic boarding school ‘torture’ on thousands of children uncovered in Switzerland

Thousands of children fell victim to violence and abuse in Catholic boarding schools in Switzerland up until the 1970s, according to a recent study decrying “sadistic” practices resembling “torture”. “There was always this incredible fear, fear, fear, fear,” recalled a former student of a Catholic boarding school in the German-speaking…

China sex fair highlights changing attitudes

Decades after Mao Zedong, couples are happy to browse sex toys together – but not all attitudes have changed “One-two-THREE! CONTROL! … and relax,” Ma Jian urges. The 78-year-old author is addressing a few dozen men clustered around a stage in Guangzhou, southern China, but he aspires to reach a much…

Afghan women plead not to be forgotten as NATO troops prepare to leave

Afghan women activists are urging the global community to ensure hard-won progress in Afghanistan in the past decade is not lost amid fears that as US and NATO-led troops leave they will be forgotten. “We do not want to go back on our gains. Whatever we have gained in the…

Restoration experts look to fix 17th century penis graffiti etched in Renaissance fresco

Workmen covering up Renaissance frescoes at Valencia Cathedral in 1674 scratched male genitalia into angel’s wing The beautiful 15th-century frescoes hidden behind a false roof in the cathedral of Valencia, eastern Spain, were a spectacular find – a remarkably well-conserved example of work by the Renaissance master Paolo da San…

Assange supporters ordered to forfeit £93,500 in bail money

Payments must be made within a month by nine friends and backers who originally promised to pay £140,000 Julian Assange’s supporters have been ordered to forfeit £93,500 in bail money after the WikiLeaks founder sought political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. A court ruled on Monday that the…

Growing number of Afghan families turn to growing cannabis

High crop prices fuel increase in number of growers, adding to drug-control problems in world leader for opium production The number of Afghan families growing cannabis as a cash crop leapt by more than a third last year, the UN has said. The increase adds to the drug-control problem in…

Afghan government could collapse, new report says

The Afghan government could fall apart after NATO troops pull out in 2014, particularly if presidential elections that year are fraudulent, a report by the International Crisis Group said Monday. “There is a real risk that the regime in Kabul could collapse upon NATO’s withdrawal,” said Candace Rondeaux, the ICG’s…

6.0 earthquake strikes in Gulf of California

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 struck off the Mexican Pacific coast late Sunday, US researchers said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The epicenter of the quake, which occurred at 11:26 pm Sunday (0626 GMT Monday), was located in the Gulf of California 73…

Finance ministers meets to launch 500-billion-euro rescue fund

The eurozone launches its much-awaited 500-billion-euro rescue fund on Monday, a positive backdrop for finance ministers trying to settle Greece’s tortuous debt bailout and as Spain agonises over seeking a rescue. Finance ministers of the 17-nation euro bloc gather just 10 days before the EU’s 27 leaders meet in Brussels,…

Hugo Chavez wins another six-year term in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shrugged off cancer and a unified opposition to triumph yet again at the ballot box and claim another six-year mandate to pursue his oil-funded socialist revolution. Sunday proved a sterner test than previous elections in Chavez’s 14-year tenure, but the bombastic anti-American leftist emerged victorious again…

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