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Iran nuclear issue, Syria dominate tense Teheran summit

Iran’s showdown with the UN Security Council over its nuclear activities, and clashing speeches over the bloody conflict shaking Syria dominated the opening of a summit in Teheran on Thursday. Those issues swept aside the veneer of diplomatic harmony Iran had been trying to project over the gathering of 120…

German unemployment rises as economy runs out of steam

As major companies such as carmaker Opel announced short-time work schemes to cope with slumping demand, headline unemployment rose this month, with the total number of people out of work up by 29,100 in August from July to stand at 2.91 million, the Federal Labour Agency said. The unadjusted jobless…

German circumcision ban ‘dangerous’: Jewish group

BERLIN — A court ruling in Germany banning circumcision is “extraordinarily dangerous” and should be clarified by the government before the end of the year, a rabbi from a top Jewish rights group said Wednesday. “We are very concerned that Europe becomes a place where circumcision is made illegal or…

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…

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