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World’s eyes on London ahead of opening ceremony

London began the final countdown Friday to the opening ceremony that will officially kick off its Olympic Games, with some 120 world leaders arriving in the British capital for the spectacle. Organisers expect more than a billion people worldwide to watch the event on television, while tens of thousands will…

Japan rejoices at ‘Miracle in Glasgow’

Japan was euphoric Friday after their Blue Samurai scored a stunning 1-0 victory over champions Spain in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic football history. Newspapers hailed Thursday’s win as the “Miracle in Glasgow”, reviving memories of their famous “Miracle in Miami” victory over Brazil at the 1996 Atlanta…

UN chief makes 11th hour plea on arms treaty

UNITED NATIONS — UN chief Ban Ki-moon made a last-ditch effort Thursday to break the deadlock over a landmark treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade, urging countries to “show flexibility.” Ban issued a statement saying he was concerned at the “very limited progress” made during month-long negotiations in New…

European sewage study reveals Belgium city has high cocaine usage

Drug testers sifting through raw sewage in 19 European cities found the highest cocaine use in Antwerp, a Nordic preference for methamphetamines and Amsterdam unsurprisingly leading in cannabis use. From the biggest-ever European drug analysis of human waste samples, the research team deducted that the continent used about 350 kilograms…

Olympic officials replace backwards Arabic ‘welcome’ signs

The official shopping centre of the 2012 Olympics apologised on Thursday for putting up “Welcome to London” banners in Arabic that read backwards. The banners at the giant Westfield Stratford City complex — at the main entrance to the Olympic Park in east London — were also written with spaces…

Japan loses first place in human longevity after earthquake

Japan’s women lost their place as the world’s longest-lived in 2011 for the first time in more than 25 years, officials said Thursday, after the quake-tsunami cut female life expectancy by five months. The Japanese are renowned for their longevity, attributed in part to a healthy traditional diet and active…

Condom ban fuels HIV rise in the Philippines

Gay sex in a conservative Catholic society where the influential church forbids the use of condoms is fuelling an alarming rise of HIV infections in the Philippines, experts warn. The Southeast Asian country is facing a HIV epidemic, with sex between men making up nearly 90 percent of all new…

Ghana’s Mills had cancer and could work few hours

Ghana’s ex-leader Jerry Rawlings has said late president John Atta Mills was suffering from cancer and could only work for a few hours per day before his death earlier this week. In comments to the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme while attending an event in Congo, Rawlings said Mills’ death…

Farmer cycles from China to London for Olympics

A Chinese farmer claims he spent two years riding nearly 40,000 miles (60,000 kilometres) through 16 countries on a rickshaw to reach London in time for the Olympic Games, the BBC reported Thursday. Chen Guanming, 57, said his goal was to “spread the Olympic spirit” on his epic quest through…

Volkswagen net profit surges 36% on strong sales

Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest car maker, said Thursday that bottom-line profits in the first half of the year soared by more than a third, leading it to confirm its upbeat forecast for 2012. The group, which manufactures 10 makes of vehicles, reported a 36-percent rise in net profit to 8.83 billion…

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