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China dispatches patrol ships as tensions with Vietnam mount

China has deployed four patrol ships to a disputed area of the South China Sea, state media said Sunday, amid a deepening row with Vietnam over competing territorial claims. The ships, described by the Xinhua news agency as surveillance vessels, reached what China calls the Huayang reef in the Spratly…

Barclays Bank chairman to quit in lending rate scandal

LONDON — The chairman of Barclays Bank is set to step down after the group was fined for attempting to manipulate the inter-bank lending rate, the BBC reported on Sunday. Marcus Agius will announce on Monday that he is to leave his post in the face of public and political…

Okinawa governor rejects U.S. Osprey deployment

TOKYO — With the threat of a mass protest, the governor of Okinawa on Sunday rejected a US plan to deploy Osprey military aircraft on the sub-tropic Japanese island chain amid safety concerns. “We have no choice but to reject it if they forcibly bring in something which is questioned…

Mali Islamists destroying ‘more Timbuktu shrines’

BAMAKO — Islamist rebels in northern Mali took hoes and chisels to the tombs of ancient Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu for a second day, ignoring international pleas to halt their campaign of destruction. After smashing three ancient tombs on Saturday, the Islamist militants who consider the World…

‘Strikingly’ few women in Asia’s top jobs: report

SEOUL — Companies in Asia’s leading economies have “strikingly” few women in senior jobs, missing out on a vital pool of talent to fuel the region’s growth, consultancy firm McKinsey & Company said on Sunday. In a survey covering 744 firms of 10 major stock markets in the Asia-Pacific, McKinsey…

Japan readies nuclear reactor as protests mount

Engineers were Sunday readying to refire a nuclear reactor, despite growing public protests in the aftermath of meltdowns at Fukushima, ending nearly two months in which Japan was nuclear-free. Control rods that have prevented an atomic reaction inside Unit No. 3 at the Oi plant in western Japan were set…

Iraqi women face court-ordered virginity tests

Iraqi women face court-ordered virginity tests that often show they were virgins until marriage but shame them nonetheless, doctors at an institute that carries out the tests and a lawyer told AFP. Remaining a virgin until marriage can be an issue of life or death for women in the Middle…

Iran shrugs off EU oil embargo

TEHRAN — A European Union embargo on Iranian oil went into effect on Sunday, provoking anger in Tehran which says the measure will hurt talks with world powers over its sensitive nuclear activities. Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi sought to downplay the embargo as just the latest punishment in decades of…

Swimming granny fails to reach Florida from Cuba

An attempt by British-Australian woman Penny Palfrey to swim unassisted from Cuba to Florida ended in failure early Sunday after she had to be pulled out of the water unable to cope with a strong ocean current. “Penny Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water, after swimming for…

‘Social protests’ continue across Israel

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated across the country on Saturday, continuing their resurrection of the social protest movement that rocked the country last summer. Protesters in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the northern city of Haifa chanted slogans including “The only solution to privatisation is revolution” and “Power from money is the…

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