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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…

Shell net profit drops by half on lower oil prices

Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday that second-quarter net profits tumbled 53 percent to $4.063 billion on the back of sliding world oil prices and slack demand. Adjusted net profits, stripping out movements in the value of inventories and other non-operating items, slid almost 13 percent to $5.72 billion…

China prosecutes Bo’s wife for murder

The wife of disgraced Chinese political leader Bo Xilai has been prosecuted for murder, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday. Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo’s home, were “recently” prosecuted by a Chinese court, Xinhua said, without giving further details.…

Most wanted Nazi war criminal’s hearing delayed

A hearing due Thursday of 97-year-old Laszlo Csatary, who tops the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s dwindling wanted-list of suspected Nazi war criminals, was deferred to next week, lawyers said. Csatary’s lawyer and prosecutors did not specify a date nor explain the delay. “The hearing will take place in a week,” his…

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