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‘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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, has withdrawn from a seminar in South Africa in protest at the presence of Tony Blair and the former prime minister’s support for the 2003 Iraq war.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…

Europe rights court condemns Italy ban on embryo testing

STRASBOURG, France — The European rights court Tuesday condemned Italy for its ban on screening embryos for genetic conditions, saying its laws leave couples wanting to avoid passing on diseases little room for manoeuvre. The condemnation from the European Court of Human Rights relates to the case of an Italian…

Female bomber kills seven as Putin urges calm

MOSCOW — A female suicide bomber posing as a Muslim pilgrim killed a leading Islamic scholar and at least five others on Tuesday in Russia’s restive Muslim region of Dagestan. The attack was reported just as President Vladimir Putin began delivering a keynote address devoted to an assassination attempt last…

Pirates hijack tanker with 24 Russian crew off Togo

LOME — Pirates exchanged fire with security forces and hijacked a Greek-owned oil tanker with 24 Russian crew off Togo on Tuesday in the latest attack in the region, the International Maritime Bureau said. The Isle of Man-flagged vessel, which was carrying gas oil, was seized 17 miles off the…

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