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Paralympics: Lights go out on ‘greatest ever Games’

London on Sunday bid farewell to the Paralympics, with a spectacular celebration of the human spirit, amid claims the Games had led to a “seismic” shift in attitudes towards disability. Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z headlined a three-hour festival of song and dance in front of 80,000 spectators at the Olympic…

Fugitive Iraq VP receives murder conviction and death sentence on day of carnage

Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a top critic of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was convicted of murder on Sunday and sentenced to the gallows, in a decision that coincided with a wave of deadly attacks. The wave of more than 30 attacks, unleashed on Saturday night, killed 88 people…

U.S. to transfer controversial Bagram prison to Afghans

The United States is to hand formal control of a controversial prison to the Afghan government on Monday, despite apparent disagreements between the two sides on the fate of hundreds of inmates. In a move hailed by Kabul as a victory for sovereignty, analysts say it is largely symbolic as…

Activist rally in Spain to help end 559-year-old bull-butchering spectacle

About 500 animal rights activists protested in central Spain on Sunday against a centuries-old festival in which a bull is chased and then lanced to death. For the demonstration the protesters arrived in the fortified town of Tordesillas, which will stage the festival on Tuesday, from across Spain on 10…

West to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty 13 years after war ended

On the eve of a meeting of Western powers gathered in the International Steering Group which will officially grant Kosovo full sovereignty, Pristina on Sunday prepared to celebrate. A huge stage was set up in the main Mother Teresa Square for an open air concert of bands from Kosovo, Albania,…

Afghan cultural guide: If coalition soldier asks to see photo of your wife, don’t shoot him

KABUL — Don’t take offence if NATO soldiers exit the shower naked or ask to see a picture of your wife — it is normal and no reason to open fire, intone new cultural guidelines from the Afghan defence ministry. Five thousand copies of a hastily written 28-page brochure have…

France’s socialist president set to unveil unprecedented austerity plan

PARIS — France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande was due to announce on Sunday unprecedented belt-tightening measures of billions of euros amid mounting discontent over the flagging economy and job cuts. Hollande, whoe popularity ratings have taken a dive less than four months after he took power, is looking vulnerable as…

Palestinians eye changes to key accord with Israel

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinian Authority has formally asked Israel for talks on changing the Paris Protocol governing economic ties between the two sides, a minister told AFP on Sunday. “I made a request to the Israeli government through the defence ministry… that the Palestinian Authority officially requests the…

Jews, Muslims stage circumcision march in Germany

BERLIN — Around 500 mainly Jewish but some Christian and Muslim protesters gathered in Berlin on Sunday to demand the right to circumcision after a disputed court ruling in Germany outlawing the rite. Some protesters were draped in Israeli flags, others wore orthodox Jewish dress for the peaceful demonstration on…

Germany keeps up austerity drive with Central Bank help

Germany’s finance minister warned Sunday that debt-laden eurozone states must stick to promised reforms and cuts despite last week’s offer of help from the European Central Bank that calmed markets. In a wide-ranging interview with the Bild am Sonntag weekly, Wolfgang Schaeuble also expressed confidence that Germany’s top court would…

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