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Syria’s Aleppo bears scars of five-week battle

ALEPPO, Syria — The blast of a tank shell smashing into a mosque sends Abu Fadi running for cover into a building used by fighters bent on taking over Aleppo in their campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Bashar is willing to waste 1,000 shells just to hit one…

Inequality could cause South Africa revolution: deputy president

CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday issued a warning about the yawning gap between rich and poor, after a deadly mine strike highlighted inequality. The country’s “conspicuous consumption… in the midst of grinding poverty” was likely to ignite strong feelings against the wealthy, he told…

U.S. ties Mexican oil service company to Zeta drugrunners

The United States placed restrictive sanctions on a Mexican oil services subcontractor Wednesday, labelling it an arm of the ultra-violent Los Zetas drug trafficking group. The US Treasury said Veracruz-based ADT Petroservicios, a longtime subcontractor to state oil company Pemex, was a money-laundering avenue of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s…

‘Threatening message’ forces New York-bound flight back to Beijing

An Air China plane bound for New York was forced to return to Beijing on Wednesday after receiving a “threatening message” but nothing unusual was found, the airline and state media said. Air China flight 981 returned to the Beijing Capital International Airport to “guarantee passenger safety”, the airline said…

Wild koala surprises canoeists by hitching a ride

Members of the Burleigh Point Outrigger Canoe Club were shocked last week after a wild koala decided to join them for a boat ride. The group was paddling down a Tallebudgera Creek on Australia’s Gold Coast when the animal spotted them from the bank and hopped in the water. After…

UPDATE: ‘Miscommunication’ triggers hijack alert at Amsterdam

[Edit. Note: This story was updated from a previous version.] Dutch authorities scrambled fighter jets Wednesday after an alert over a feared hijacking of an airliner but it turned out to be a false alarm that officials blamed on “miscommunication.” Two F-16 warplanes were sent up to escort the Vueling…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu quits seminar in protest over presence of Tony Blair and his support for the Iraq war

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, has withdrawn from a seminar in South Africa in protest at the presence of Tony Blair and the former prime minister’s support for the 2003 Iraq war. “The archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair’s decision to…

Australian surfer in bloody shark attack

A surfer has been savaged by a shark off a remote west Australian beach in the sixth serious incident in the state in less than a year, with witnesses Wednesday telling of water “full of blood”. The man, reported to be in his 30s, was bitten on the abdomen and…

Stephen Hawking will help open ‘Inspirational’ Paralympics in London

The Paralympic torch was on Wednesday being carried through London towards the Olympic Park after an overnight relay through the countryside of southern England. The torch is to visit landmarks such as the Abbey Road crossing made famous by the Beatles, Lord’s Cricket Ground, and London Zoo as it heads…

World’s largest marine park unveiled

The Cook Islands has announced the creation of the world’s largest marine park, as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) opened with a spectacular Polynesian welcoming ceremony. Heralded by traditional drummers and blaring conch shells, leaders of the 15-nation grouping were carried to the summit venue in the capital Avarua on…

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