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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is preparing to replace the Vatican’s powerful Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a key reshuffle for his papacy, Italian media reported on Friday, citing anonymous Vatican sources. Bertone has held the post, considered a deputy to the pope, since 2006 and has proved…

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TAIPEI: Taiwan plans to spend more than $100 million to build a dock big enough for warships in the disputed Spratly islands, a legislator said on Thursday, as other claimants strengthen their regional military presence. The plan submitted to parliament on Thursday by the coastguard would cost Tw$3.4 billion ($112.4…

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BEIJING: China will launch a corruption investigation into former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, one of Beijing’s most powerful politicians of the last decade, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Friday citing unspecified sources. The probe into Zhou, a recently retired member of the ruling Communist party’s Politburo Standing Committee (PSC),…

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PESHAWAR: The Pakistani doctor jailed for 33 years after helping the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) find al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had his sentence overturned on Thursday and faces a retrial, officials said. Shakeel Afridi was arrested after United States (US) troops killed bin Laden in May 2011 in the…

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BEIJING: China has experienced its hottest August for more than half a century, weather authorities said on Thursday. A map on the website of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) shows large parts of central and eastern China, and the western province of Xinjiang, had average daily maximum temperatures of more…

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BANGKOK: Health experts on Thursday called for trials of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine under development in Thailand to be speeded up following recent setbacks in other efforts to end the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. Initial test results of the RV144 vaccine—jointly developed by United States military researchers…

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JAKARTA: London vowed on Friday to support a British grandmother on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling as she mulls her next step after the country’s top court rejected her appeal. Three judges at the Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the death sentence handed down to Lindsay Sandiford…

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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s religious affairs minister has called for the Miss World beauty pageant to be cancelled, as opposition in the Muslim-majority country mounts the week before the contest opens in Bali. Suryadharma Ali said that the organizers should follow the advice of the nation’s top Islamic clerical body, which last…

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DAMASCUS: Washington said on Friday that it is seeking an “international coalition” for possible strikes on Syria over alleged chemical attacks while reserving the right to act alone despite Britain’s parliament rejecting involvement. United Nations (UN) arms experts, meanwhile, were to inspect the sites of last week’s suspected poisonous gas…

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CAIRO: Supporters of Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi vowed more rallies and called for marches on Friday as police arrested another senior Islamist in an ongoing crackdown on Morsi loyalists. The call for further protests came as the interior ministry announced the arrest on Thursday of Muslim Brotherhood politician, Mohamed…