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EU moves step closer to law on national GMO crop bans Reuters 17/11/2014

EU politicians have backed a plan to allow nations to ban genetically modified crops on their soil even if they are given approval to be grown in the European Union, raising the chance their use will remain limited on the continent. Widely grown in the Americas and Asia, GM crops in Europe have divided opinion, with opposition in many countries including France and Germany, while Britain favors them. Reuters reports.

Scientists find rare burial site of Ice Age infant in Alaska Reuters 17/11/2014

Archaeologists working in Alaska's remote interior have discovered the burial site of an Ice Age infant and a late-term fetus believed to be the youngest remains found in the Americas from that period. The burials, found underneath the cremated remains of an Ice Age toddler, date to about 11,500 years ago and provide new insights into mortuary practices of the people who lived at the time.

Special Report: In France, the discreet charm of a far-right mayor Reuters 10/11/2014

David Rachline, the mayor of the French Riviera town of Frejus, quietly loaned a free room to the town’s Jewish community recently to celebrate Yom Kippur. In most other towns in France the gesture would have been unremarkable. But Rachline belongs to the far right National Front, a party whose founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1996 when he said the gas chambers used to kill Jews in the Holocaust were "merely a detail” of World War Two. Reuters reports.

Acid attacks in Iran sharpen row over Islamic dress and vigilantism Reuters 10/11/2014

It is a question all Iranians are asking: who is stalking the streets of Isfahan, throwing acid into women's faces? The attacks - there have been at least four in the busy city in central Iran in recent weeks - appear aimed at terrorizing women who dare to test the boundaries of the Islamic dress code. The crimes coincided with the passage of a new parliamentary bill that allows private citizens to enforce "morality" laws. The bill has sparked a clash between hardline politicians, who overwhelmingly support it, and moderates including President Hassan Rouhani. Reuters reports.

Robots to sell coffee machines in Japan Reuters 03/11/2014

Nestle SA will enlist a thousand humanoid robots to help sell its coffee makers at electronics stores across Japan, becoming the first corporate customer for the chatty, bug-eyed androids unveiled in June by tech conglomerate SoftBank Corp.

Britain's 'Naked Rambler' loses legal battle to reveal all Reuters 03/11/2014

A British man who spent a total of seven years in jail for going naked in public lost his legal battle to wear no clothes as Europe's human rights court told him he must respect the feelings of others. Stephen Gough, dubbed "The Naked Rambler" by British media for his bid to trek the length of the country wearing no more than a hat and bulky rucksack, faced some 30 convictions for public order disturbances and other offences.

Fukushima film shows reality sinking in for 'nuclear refugees' Reuters 27/10/2014

Before the Fukushima nuclear crisis forced them from their homes, residents of Futaba had praised the Daiichi power plant as a "godsend" that brought jobs and money to the Japanese coastal town. Now, more than three years after the disaster, they remain stuck in cramped emergency housing facing the reality they will likely never go home, with Futaba set to become a storage site for contaminated soil, a new documentary film shows.

Petition calls on Roche to cut breast cancer drug price Reuters 27/10/2014

A British-led petition signed by 29,000 people has demanded that Switzerland's Roche, the world's biggest maker of cancer medicines, cut the price of its expensive new breast cancer drug Kadcyla. The campaign shows the growing pressure on drug companies as a raft of promising new cancer treatments reach the market. U.S. insurers also say they are alarmed by a coming flood of cancer medicines with "astronomical price tags", while pricing rows have flared in France and Italy.

Families torn apart as Western girls join Islamist cause Reuters 20/10/2014

There are many reports about the thousands of young men from Western Europe travelling to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State but governments are also becoming concerned by the smaller but steady flow of teenage girls leaving home to join the ranks. According to parents, relatives and radicalization experts, the girls are lured by the promise of humanitarian work but when they arrive they discover their true fate: forced marriage to a fighter, strict adherence to Islamic law and a life under surveillance and little hope of returning home.

Witchcraft-related child abuse on the rise in Britain, say police Reuters 20/10/2014

Instances of child-abuse related to witchcraft are on the rise in the UK, police have warned. There were 27 allegations reported in the past year whereby children were abused by people who believed them to be possessed by demonic spirits. Some of the children were raped, beaten and forced to drink unknown substances in exorcism ceremonies. The police said this form of abuse is rarely reported because the crime is kept hidden by families and faith communities, meaning the true scale of the issue is unknown.

Pakistan's Sikhs live under constant threat Reuters 13/10/2014

Sikhs living in Pakistan have been closing businesses and keeping their children away from school for fear of attack. Feelings of persecution have been growing among the country’s small Sikh population as militants spread intolerance through radical Islamic ideology. Over the past 18 months eight Sikhs have been killed, the first recorded sectarian killings of Sikhs in Pakistani history. "I don't know if it's a customer or an assailant who will reach out for his gun," says a Sikh shopkeeper called Amarjeet Singh.

Mexican police alleged to have massacred students Reuters 13/10/2014

Investigators fear dozens of students have been killed in a massacre by Mexican police following a protest. In September, 80 students from a college in Iguala, well-known for its left-wing activism, clashed with police after they commandeered three buses. According to survivors of the incident, Mexican police killed three trainee teachers, shot another in the head and another in the face. One of the students who died had the skin cut beneath his throat and his face pulled off. Dozens more were herded into police trucks and it is thought they were taken to a remote location and slaughtered. So far, 28 corpses have been found buried in mass graves on a hillside outside Iguala and 43 students are still missing.

Radical Myanmar monk joins hands with Sri Lankan Buddhists Reuters 06/10/2014

A radical monk from Myanmar - who once called himself “the Burmese bin Laden” and stands accused of stirring violence against Muslims - has announced a partnership with a hardline Buddhist group in Sri Lanka. The declaration by Ashin Wirathu was the clearest signal yet of a push to spread the ideology of his controversial 969 movement beyond Myanmar to build a front against Islamist militancy. "I'd like to announce that 969 and I will join hands with Sri Lanka's Bodu Bala Sena to protect Buddhists all round the world," he said.

Russians ditch Western T-shirts in patriotic fashion drive Reuters 06/10/2014

Patriots in Russia have been asking the public to swap Western-branded T-shirts for home grown tops sporting pro-Russian slogans. So far, some 10,000 T-shirts have been swapped in a campaign against sanctions imposed by the West on Russia due to its involvement in the Ukraine conflict. The punitive measures have limited Russia's access to foreign money, pushed the rouble to historic lows and slowed economic growth to a crawl. Russia has responded by banning many Western food products.

Photo Essay: global climate outrage Reuters 29/09/2014

Protesters took to the streets of New York City recently to highlight the growing threat of climate change. In the largest protest ever held on climate change, some 310,000 people marched through the American capital, joined by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, former US Vice President, Al Gore, and actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Our photo essay looks at the People’s Climate March in New York, London and Mexico City which was backed by similar events in 166 countries around the world.

Israeli court orders closure of detention center for African migrants Reuters 29/09/2014

Israel’s high court has outlawed a detention centre called Holot in the Negev desert that holds some 2000 African migrants. The ruling gives Israel three months to release Holot prisoners in a move hailed as ground-breaking by human rights activists who have condemned the facility. Israel has strict laws regarding immigration with asylum seekers often labelled as “infiltrators”. Indeed, thousands of people have been jailed or given financial incentives to leave Israel via controversial policies that have drawn criticism.

San Francisco drag queens meet with Facebook over name policy Reuters 29/09/2014

Social media giant Facebook faces a backlash from the LGBT community who claim they’ve been unfairly treated by a new policy that bans people from using fake names. Drag queen performers in particular, who often use stage names to protect themselves from possible retribution, have complained the move could endanger them. Cross-dressers have called on Facebook to unblock hundreds of LGBT accounts recently closed down.

In Japan, grave times for the tombstone trade Reuters 22/09/2014

Japan’s gravestone business, once very lucrative for designers making intricate personalised statues from stone, is under threat due to the country’s increasingly ageing population and ailing economy. Indeed, the number of deaths per year in Japan is expected to increase by 30 per cent over the next 25 years but while this should provide a boom for the trade many people are choosing not to have expensive statues. The move is towards cheaper memorial methods such as having remains scattered at sea or planted under a tree.

Pakistani Islamists use floods to turn opinion against India Reuters 22/09/2014

Recent floods in Pakistan have devastated the country claiming hundreds of lives and destroying homes while submerging huge swathes of the countryside. Now, Pakistani Islamist militants are accusing India of causing the floods, saying their neighbour used upstream dams to dump water on the country. The militants, considered to be some of the most dangerous in South Asia, are using the disaster to turn public opinion against India, whose relationship with Pakistan has often been fraught. India has dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

Norway to rent Dutch prisons to cut convict queue Reuters 15/09/2014

Norway plans to rent prison space in the Netherlands. Dutch prisons already house overflow prisoners from Belgium and as its prison population has been steadily falling since 2008, there will be space for Norway’s offenders too. Norwegian prisons are known for their relatively humane treatment of inmates, with non-violent offenders often held in open prisons with some free personal movement, jobs, recreation facilities and focus on rehabilitation. It also boasts one of the lowest re-offending rates in the world.

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