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Afghan woman beheaded after refusing prostitution

Afghan police have arrested four people who allegedly tried to force a woman into prostitution in western Afghanistan and beheaded her when she refused, officials said Wednesday. Mah Gul, 20, was beheaded after her mother-in-law attempted to make her sleep with a man in her house in Herat province last…

Marie-Antoinette silk slippers auction for $82,000

A pair of silk slippers believed to have been worn by Marie-Antoinette, the wife of French monarch Louis XVI, sold at auction for 62,460 euros ($82,025) here on Wednesday. The size 36-and-a-half (six) slippers, green with ornate pink bands across them and featuring a silk bow, had been expected to…

London police Taser blind man after mistaking cane for samurai sword

LONDON — Police apologised on Wednesday after a blind man was tasered by an officer who mistook his white stick for a samurai sword. The incident happened in the market town of Chorley in Lancashire on Friday after police received reports of a man walking through the town carrying a…

Arafat widow ‘questioned in French murder probe’

French investigators probing the death of Yasser Arafat questioned his widow Suha, who claims the veteran Palestinian leader may have been poisoned, in France in mid-September, a source told AFP Wednesday. France opened a murder enquiry in late August after Arafat’s family launched legal action following reports he may have…

U.S. ambassador says he ‘understands anger’ over Okinawa rape claim

The United States ambassador to Japan vowed “complete and unequivocal cooperation” Wednesday over the alleged rape of a local woman by two servicemen on an island already fed up with the US military. Ambassador John Roos moved swiftly to reassure people on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa that he…

Concern as HIV cases rise 8 percent in Australia

Research on Wednesday showed HIV infections in Australia jumped eight percent last year and 50 percent in the past decade, which health activists said was a “call to action”. An annual report of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections in Australia showed there were 1,137 new cases of the human…

Fukushima panel chief hopes for change in Japan

WASHINGTON — The head of a hard-hitting panel that blamed cultural factors for the Fukushima nuclear disaster voiced hope Tuesday that the tragedy would help open up Japan’s system of government. The independent commission issued a damning report in July that blamed the world’s worst nuclear accident in a generation…

Masked men torch key Sufi shrine in Tunis

LA MANOUBA, Tunisia — One of Tunisia’s main mausoleums of the Sufi sect has been burned down in an overnight arson attack, an AFP journalist said Tuesday, amid a spate of attacks on Sufi shrines by increasingly assertive Salafists. The Saida Manoubia shrine or zawiya in the western La Manouba…

Czech inspectors seize thousands of litres of toxic liquor

PRAGUE — Health inspectors in the Czech Republic said Tuesday they had seized thousands of bottles of counterfeit rum containing deadly amounts of poisonous methanol. The seizure comes after the deaths of 28 people in September and October, when victims in the Czech Republic died after swallowing methanol-tainted, bootleg drinks.…

Saudi Arabia allows women lawyers to plead cases in court

Women lawyers in Saudi Arabia will be be allowed to plead cases in court for the first time from next month, according to a justice ministry directive published on Tuesday by Al-Watan daily. The ruling, which will take effect at the beginning of next month after the end of the…

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