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Tobacco firms lose Australia plain packet case

Global tobacco firms lost a “watershed” court challenge to Australia’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes on Wednesday in a closely-watched case health advocates said would have a worldwide impact. The High Court of Australia ruled the measures, stipulating that tobacco products should be sold in drab, uniform packaging with graphic health warnings…

Quadruple amputee prepares for Bering Strait swim

Two silhouettes cut through the water a few hundred yards (metres) from a rainy, windswept beach bordering the flat grasslands near the small Inuit community of Wales, in the far west of Alaska. Through the mist on the horizon, the islands of Little Diomede and Big Diomede — the remote…

Norway PM under pressure after scathing Breivik report

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was under pressure Wednesday in the wake of a scathing report on the authorities’ handling of the Anders Behring Breivik attacks that left 77 people dead. Several polls published on Wednesday showed that a majority of Norwegians wanted Stoltenberg to stay on as prime minister,…

Russia breaks up Pussy Riot protest outside church

MOSCOW — Russian security guards broke up a demonstration Wednesday in support of protest punk group Pussy Riot outside the Moscow cathedral where the women performed this year, activists said. The protesters, wearing the group’s trademark coloured balaclavas, were holding individual letters that spelled the phrase “Blessed are the merciful”…

Standard Chartered fined $340 million over Iran deals

Standard Chartered on Tuesday settled allegations that it helped Iranian clients dodge US sanctions, announcing a fine of $340 million from a New York banking watchdog. The “civil penalty” came amid allegations that the London-based bank hid 60,000 transactions with proscribed Iranian clients worth $250 billion over ten years. The…

Accused Nazi war criminal free to stay in Australia

SYDNEY — A 90-year-old man accused of being a Nazi war criminal on Wednesday won his fight to stay in Australia, after the High Court blocked his extradition to Hungary. Charles Zentai was allegedly one of three Nazi-backed Hungarian soldiers who tortured and murdered a Jewish teenager in Budapest in…

Brazil court orders work on Amazon dam suspended

BRASILIA — A federal court in Brazil on Tuesday ordered that work on the huge Belo Monte dam in the Amazon be suspended, saying native communities affected by the controversial hydroelectric project must be heard. The regional federal court ruled that the construction of the dam across the Xingu River,…

Two Tibetans set themselves alight in China: group

BEIJING — Two ethnic Tibetan men set themselves on fire together in southwest China to protest Beijing’s rule, causing clashes between residents and security forces, rights groups said on Tuesday. A monk and former monk set themselves alight Monday in Aba town in Sichuan province, sparking a protest that authorities…

Ecuador ‘will grant Assange asylum’: report

LONDON — Ecuador President Rafael Correa was set to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said on its website Tuesday, quoting an official in Quito. “We see Assange’s request as a humanitarian issue,” an unnamed official told the daily. “It is clear that when Julian entered…

Pentagon wants bin Laden-style SEAL raid on Mexican drug kingpin: report

The most wanted man in the world, 55-year-old Mexican billionaire Joaquin Guzman Loera, has landed on the Pentagon’s hit list, according to a Spanish-language report published by Proceso (English translation), which cites anonymous military sources in the U.S. and Mexico. The plan, described as a bin Laden-style raid orchestrated by…

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