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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…

George Clooney to testify in Berlusconi’s sex trial in Milan

Hollywood star will dispute claim by Karima el-Mahroug that he attended former Italian leader’s ‘Bunga Bunga’ party George Clooney has been called as a witness in Silvio’s Berlusconi’s trial in Milan for paying an underage prostitute for sex. Berlusconi is accused of paying cash and jewels to Karima el-Mahroug, the…

Gay kiss on ‘Downton Abbey’ sparks outrage in Greece

A row has erupted in Greece’s state broadcaster ERT over a decision this week to cut a scene showing two men kissing from the evening broadcast of award-winning British period drama “Downton Abbey”. The company’s managing director criticised the move as censorship after it raised a wave of complaints over…

Starbucks launches first storefront in India

Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain, launched its first Indian outlet Friday in an upscale part of Mumbai, becoming the latest global firm to tap the urban youth’s growing taste for caffeine. The Seattle-based firm has finally entered the vast Indian market in a joint venture with the country’s giant…

Singapore student sex blog draws scandal

SINGAPORE — A young Malaysian couple have sparked a scandal in Singapore and Malaysia after posting a sexually explicit blog that challenges conservative values in both countries. Alvin Tan, 24, a law student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and his Malaysian girlfriend Vivian Lee, 23, have been denounced…

Kuwait plunges into political turmoil amid crackdown

Kuwait plunged into political turmoil on Friday after the public prosecution ordered the detention of three former opposition MPs for three days with more arrests expected. The three — Falah al-Sawwagh, Bader al-Dahum and Khaled al-Tahus — were questioned for nine hours on accusations of undermining the status of Kuwait’s…

Berlusconi denies ‘Bunga Bunga’ sex charges in Milan

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi denied at his trial on Friday that he hosted raunchy parties, had sex with a 17-year-old prostitute and abused his powers by pressuring police. Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with Moroccan exotic dancer Karima El-Mahroug, better known by her stage name as…

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