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Iranian murderer set to hang gets a slap in the face from the victim’s mother instead

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported Thursday. The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed…

115 Nigeria schoolgirls still missing after kidnap: principal

A Nigerian school principal on Thursday denied military reports that most of the girls kidnapped from her school by Islamist gunmen were now safe, as the parents of those taken voiced anger over the conflicting claims. The defence ministry and the government in Borno state, where the attack took place,…

Vladimir Putin tells Edward Snowden: Russia doesn’t carry out NSA-style mass surveillance

President Vladimir Putin has told the National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, that Russia is not carrying out mass surveillance programmes of the kind Snowden exposed in the US. Snowden made a video-link appearance during Putin’s marathon televised question and answer session to ask the president about Russia’s attitude to…

Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown

Egypt’s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government, after a series of recent raids on gay people. Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had collectively documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests.…

Japanese ‘zentai’ fetishists seek liberation in full body suits

By day, she is a mild-mannered office clerk, whose modest make-up and conservative hairstyle make her blend in to any crowd. By night, she dresses in a skin-tight, all-in-one Spandex body suit that covers everything — including her eyes — and sits in bars, alone but liberated, she believes, from…

Six dead and 290 missing reported after South Korean ferry sinking

South Korean rescuers and dive teams worked frantically under floodlights as fears rose for nearly 300 people missing after a ferry sank Wednesday with 475 on board, mostly high school students bound for a holiday island. Yonhap news agency said 179 people had been rescued, citing national coastguard officials, leaving…

Drug cartel leader on Treasury blacklist arrested in Mexico

Police have arrested the deputy leader of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel in Mexico City as he visited the capital, authorities said Wednesday. Arnoldo Villa Sanchez was arrested by federal police on Tuesday, three days after he arrived to see family and associates during Holy Week, said National Security Commissioner…

Looters take advantage of Brazilian police strike in World Cup host city

Looting broke out in Salvador de Bahia, one of the host cities for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, as police went on strike for a second day Wednesday. Radio reported that a supermarket and bank were pillaged overnight in the absence of local police, who walked out late Tuesday…

Sexual violence against Egypt women ‘goes unpunished’: report

Sexual violence against women has been rife since the 2011 uprising in Egypt, where hundreds of female protesters have been the target of attack with apparent impunity, rights groups said Wednesday. “Successive Egyptian governments have failed to address violence against women, with serious implications for women’s participation in the political…

NATO to deploy more forces in eastern Europe

NATO said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces in eastern Europe in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine and take further action if needed. “Today we have agreed a package of military measures,” NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of ambassadors of…

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