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Japan backs off promise to end nuclear energy by 2040

Japan has effectively abandoned a commitment to end its reliance on nuclear power by 2040 amid pressure from the country’s business lobby, dropping a deadline recommended by a cabinet panel only days ago. The cabinet on Tuesday gave only a vague endorsement of the panel’s report, released last Friday, and dropped any mention of…

Georgia minister quits over jail rape scandal

Georgia’s prisons minister resigned Wednesday over videos showing the alleged beating and rape of convicts that caused outrage ahead of bitterly-contested elections in the ex-Soviet state. Some of the graphic video footage, aired late Tuesday by opposition television station TV9, showed a weeping half-naked male prisoner at a jail in…

Human Rights Watch seeks release of ‘runaway’ Afghan women

A US-based human rights group on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of Afghan women imprisoned for running away from home, welcoming promises from government officials to stop the detentions. Up to 70 percent of the estimated 700 women and girls detained in Afghan prisons are being held for running away,…

Russia expels USAID for ‘influencing politics’

Russia on Wednesday said it had ordered a halt to the work of USAID because the agency was seeking to influence domestic politics, adding that the organisation had until October 1 to halt activities. “The decision was taken mainly because the work of the agency’s officials far from always responded…

Massive worldwide slaughter of farm animals set to push food prices up 14 percent

Farmers who cannot afford feed ‘liquidating’ pig and cattle herds will drive food inflation to record high, says Rabobank report The mass slaughter of millions of farm animals across the world is expected to push food prices to their highest ever levels. As well as hitting consumers’ pockets, the predicted…

French magazine publishes naked Prophet Mohammed cartoons

A French satirical magazine published nude cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, a move that could further inflame tensions after violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film. The cover of Charlie Hebdo shows a Muslim in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title…

Colombia says last top drug lord arrested

Colombia said that Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, alleged to be the country’s last major drug lord, had been caught in neighboring Venezuela in an international sting led from Washington. “The last of the great capos has fallen,” President Juan Manuel Santos announced on national television, adding that the US Central…

For the first time more millionaires call Asia-Pacific, instead of North America, ‘home’

Asia-Pacific has overtaken North America as home to the most millionaires for the first time, boosted by a rise in the number of wealthy in China and Japan, a report released on Wednesday showed. The region had 3.37 million high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in 2011 compared to North America’s…

Congress honors visiting democracy icon Suu Kyi

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will receive the US Congress’s highest honor on Wednesday during a landmark trip in which she has called for the lifting of sanctions on her native Myanmar. The Nobel peace laureate was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, during the 15 years she…

Cuban hunger strikers cry victory after prisoner freed

HAVANA — Dissident Marta Beatriz Roque called it “a victory for the Cuban people … and democracy” when the communist government bowed to the demands of hunger strikers and freed a political prisoner. Roque’s campaign had inspired 29 other protesters to put their lives on the line, joining her action…

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