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International

U.S. judge reluctant to probe destruction of CIA tapes

By Xinhua

Washington : A U.S. federal judge Friday turned out to be reluctant to investigate the destruction of some Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) videotapes which show torture of two terror suspects in interrogations.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy heard arguments from both sides, but didn't come up with a decision.

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China opens rural work conference, paints picture of rural development in 2008

By Xinhua

Beijing : China kicked off an annual rural work conference here on Saturday to map out the country's strategies and policies for agricultural and rural development in 2008.

China's rural development will continue to be one of the areas that top the government's agenda in the coming year, as stressed at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded in October.

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Nepal's sexual minorities emerge as 2007's winners

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : With its political parties failing to provide good governance and hold elections, and the Maoists continuing with violence despite signing a peace pact, Nepal's gay community has emerged as the only winners of the year that saw the country suffering from a series of dismal failures.

The most remarkable gain for the homosexual, lesbian and transgender community came at the fag end of the year with the Supreme Court acknowledging their right to be treated at par with men and women.

The rebirth of a classic racing yacht in Italy

By DPA

Castellamare di Stabia (Italy) : Hidden away in a warehouse within the compounds of a military facility near Naples lies a floating masterpiece which dozens of craftsman and carpenters are painstakingly trying to restore.

For the past two years, Italian ship owner Federico Cuomo has been following the slow but steady resurrection of La Spina, a classic racing yacht from the 1920s, which he acquired in a deteriorated state from a shipyard in Spain.

Rice says Taiwanese referendum to join UN 'provocative'

By DPA

Washington : Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum next year on whether it should join the United Nations is a "provocative policy" that will raise tensions with China, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

Rice Friday said the US opposes any attempt by Taiwan to alter cross strait relations with China and will not support formal independence from Beijing.

"We think that Taiwan's referendum to apply to the United Nations under the name Taiwan is a provocative policy," Rice said in her final press conference of the year.

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South Africa opens Freedom Park for public

By IANS

Pretoria : The South African government has opened to visitors a unique Freedom Park that has two heritage themes based on the wall inscriptions of heroes who fought eight great wars and a monument for spiritual enrichment.

The Wall of Names is a series of inter-connecting walls inscribed with the names of men and women who died during the eight conflicts that shaped South Africa, BuaNews reported.

While borders in Europe fall, Serbia erects new walls: expert

By DPA

Belgrade : The enlargement of the European border-free zone "cannot be overrated," an economic expert says, but despite not being part of the new zone, Serbia plans to strengthen the wall around it.

The extension of the Schengen agreement to nine more countries removed the last vestiges of the Iron Curtain that divided Western Europe from the East, Vladimir Gligorov of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies said in a commentary in Friday's edition of Serbian daily Blic.

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Nepal loses millions by banning Indian currency

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : The Nepal government's bid to curb terror activities and the circulation of fake Indian currency has now begun to produce a side effect, causing it to lose millions in revenue.

Currently, Nepal's treasury has about Rs.25 million in banned Indian currency that is destined for the incinerator since the Indian government has reportedly refused to exchange the notes with ones that are legal in Nepal.

Air France introduces mobile phone services

By Xinhua

Paris : Air France has launched the first mobile phone services on international flights in a move that will allow passengers to use their Internet enabled laptops to send and receive SMS, MMS and e-mail, the airline said Thursday.

Currently, only Australia's Qantas airline has a similar service that is offered strictly on domestic flights.

The service to be operated on a six-month experiment basis is to be rolled out on a single Air France plane, an Airbus A318.

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Churchill's great-grandson jailed for drug pedalling

By RIA Novosti

London : The great-grandson of the late British prime minister Winston Churchill has been sentenced to three years in an Australian prison, British media reported Thursday.

Nicholas Jake Barton, 33, was arrested in June 2006 after the police discovered 250,000 psychotropic Ecstasy pills and drug-making equipment in his home. He pleaded guilty "to knowingly taking part in the supply of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug" in November 2007, the Daily Telegraph website said.

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