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Russia seeks UN backing of Syria peace plan

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Russia said Saturday it would ask the UN Security Council to endorse a plan to end the raging violence in Syria, but the United States insisted that any resolution had to have teeth. Russia has been the main diplomatic and military supporter of Syria’s embattled President Bashar…

Nelson Mandela ‘happier’ out of the spotlight in childhood home

South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is “happier” since he returned to a quiet life in his rural childhood village, the CEO of his children’s hospital project said Friday. “He’s happier where he is now in Qunu. It’s quiet. No one’s bothering him every five minutes to sign something,” said…

‘Highly toxic’ bird flu strain hits Vietnam

A new highly-toxic strain of the potentially deadly bird flu virus has appeared in Vietnam and is spreading fast, according to state media reports. The strain appeared to be a mutation of the H5N1 virus which swept through the country’s poultry flocks last year, forcing mass culls of birds in…

World Bank: Morocco youth unemployment is ‘very serious’

The World Bank on Friday described the problem of youth unemployment in Morocco as “very serious,” with similarities to other countries in the region where youth-led protests brought about regime change. “It is a very serious problem,” Inger Andersen, the bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa,…

Netherlands party wants to shut down on Sundays ‘to go to church’

Shutting the Netherlands down on Sundays, protecting an African language and living a work-free life are some of the more offbeat policies being put forward by Dutch parties ahead of Wednesday’s vote. A whopping 21 parties are contesting parliament’s 150 seats in the election, the second in just over two…

DSK has new girlfriend

Disgraced ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has a new girlfriend who works for a well-known television channel, glossy French weekly VSD said Friday, printing photographs of the two together. His new love interest was a “bubbly 40-something” with a “senior job in a big television chain”, it said and identified her…

Norway killer Breivik refuses to appeal 21-year sentence

An Oslo court verdict last month handing gunman Anders Behring Breivik a 21-year prison sentence stands after he told his lawyers he would not lodge an appeal by Friday’s deadline, they said. Norwegian Breivik was sentenced to his country’s maximum prison sentence for his July 22 twin attacks last year…

French tax lawyer accused of swindling L’Oreal heiress

A French tax lawyer was charged Friday with swindling the country’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, by getting her to hand over a private island in the Seychelles to him. A source said Fabrice Goguel, who also heads the Foundation for Ecological balance, was suspected of abusing 89-year-old Bettencourt’s…

Australia halts deportation of U.K. murderer after he spit and cursed at flight crews

Australian officials were Friday considering how to deport a British murderer after he was pulled from two commercial flights after reportedly spitting at crew and screaming abuse after boarding. Keith Herring ripped a telephone from the seat of a plane and urinated in a holding cell as officials attempted to…

Slum surveys giving ‘invisible’ inhabitants a say in urban planning

In 2005, Jeremiah Makori was asleep in his home in Nairobi’s Deep Sea slum when he heard a voice outside. “We went to sleep as usual, and at midnight I heard a strange voice outside, [saying] move out and save your lives,” he said. He rushed outside with his nightclothes…

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