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London Olympics conclude with mass sing-along

The London 2012 closing ceremony kicked off with a typically British mass singalong Sunday to bring the curtain down on an Olympic Games that have retained the feelgood factor throughout. The show in the Olympic Stadium, entitled “A Symphony of British Music”, is a celebration of Britain’s pop prowess, featuring…

Iraq orders French oil firm to stop dealing with Kurds

BAGHDAD — Iraq on Sunday gave French energy giant Total an ultimatum to either end its dealings with the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north or to sell its stake in a giant southern oilfield. Iraq’s deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, Hussein al-Shahristani, also said Baghdad was considering…

Israel sniper gets 45-day sentence for killing two Gaza women

JERUSALEM — An Israeli soldier implicated in the killing of two Gaza women carrying a white flag faces a 45-day jail term under a plea bargain approved by a military court on Sunday, local media said. The sniper, identified by Israeli media as “staff sergeant S,” was charged with manslaughter…

U.S. offers help to Iran after earthquake

WASHINGTON — The United States on Sunday offered help and condolences to the people of Iran over a double earthquake that claimed 227 lives and injured more than 1,000 others. “The American people send the Iranian people our deepest condolences for the loss of life in the tragic earthquake in…

Former yak-herder is first Tibetan medalist

LONDON — A former yak-herder who did not even see the Olympics on TV until 2008 has become the Games’ first ever Tibetan medallist, reports said Sunday. Qieyang Shenjie, who grew up riding horses on the Tibetan plateau, prompted jubilation with her 20km race walk bronze in London, according to…

Britain urges world to unite against hunger

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron was to call on world powers on Sunday to boost their efforts to tackle malnutrition across the globe. Taking advantage of the large number of foreign officials gathered in London for the Olympic Games, Cameron was to urge international action to save 25 million…

Palestinian leadership says Gaza tunnels a ‘threat’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinian Authority has condemned the network of smuggling tunnels between Hamas-run Gaza and Egypt as a “threat” to security and lauded Cairo’s campaign to seal them. Speaking a week after a deadly attack which killed 16 Egyptian border police in northern Sinai, Tayeb Abdelrahim, chief…

Strong quake jolts western China

BEIJING — A shallow 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook a remote area of China’s western region of Xinjiang, near the border with Tibet, on Sunday, the US Geological Survey said. It was not immediately clear if there was any damage or casualties and rescue teams had been rushed to the mountainous quake…

Archaeologists cover up Afghan heritage

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan — “It’s there,” says an archaeologist pointing to the ground, where fragments of a Buddha statue from the ancient Gandhara civilisation have been covered up to stop them being stolen or vandalised. Just months before the US-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban regime shocked the world by destroying…

Retreat never an option: ex-Fukushima chief

TOKYO — The chief of Japan’s Fukushima atomic plant at the time of the quake-tsunami disaster has said he never considered withdrawing from the escalating crisis despite fearing for his life, according to reports. “I thought my fellow workers and I could die when huge amounts of debris flew off”…

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