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Cruise line accused of ignoring adrift fishermen: It wasn't us

Paul Koring

Princess Cruises, the cruise line accused by the sole survivor of a tiny Panamanian fishing skiff of ignoring his frantic distress signals despite worried passengers alerting the ship’s officers, says it has uncovered new evidence exculpating its captain and senior officers.

An outside photographic expert hired by Princess concludes the tiny fishing boat photographed from the desk of the Star Princess with what appear to be people waving clothing or flags wasn’t the Fifty Cent, the skiff adrift for nearly a month during which time two of the three young me on board died.

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Despite U.S.’s help in the Arab world, anti-Americanism still simmers

Paul Koring

Libya, where Canadian and allied warplanes tipped the military balance against Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s brutal regime, was supposed to be a shining example of U.S. President Barack Obama’s careful and considered use of the big stick of superpower military intervention. Barely a year later, Libya’s fragile, fledgling democracy can’t control raging militias, Islamists are on the rise and America’s vital help is being repaid in blood and fire.

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Heist or hoax? Thieves want $1-million for Romney’s stolen tax records

Paul Koring

Thieves say they have stolen many years of Mitt Romney’s tax records and are threatening to make them public unless the rich Republican presidential candidate – or someone else – pays $1-million in ransom.

Whether the heist is a diabolical blackmail scheme, a whole new dimension of political dirty tricks in the digital era or just a wacky bluff isn’t clear, but the stakes are very high and the Secret Service is investigating.

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Former Indian minister handed 28-year sentence for her role in bloody 2002 riots

Stephanie Nolen

A Gujarat court today handed down harsh sentences to 32 people for their role in bloody riots in which some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in 2002. As the convicts were led from the court, one weeping woman stood out in a crowd of people wailing and clutching at the hands of relatives. Mayaben Surendrabhai Kodnani, sentenced to 28 years for murder and conspiracy to murder, is a former cabinet minister in the state government.

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In China, outrage over latest victim falls short of Magnotta furor

Mark Mackinnon

Thursday’s topic du jour on the Chinese-language microblog of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing was Canadian cuisine, but some who read it wanted to discuss a much darker side of the country many Chinese have long seen as something of a paradise.

“In Canada, again, we see a brutal body parts case. The victim was a single Chinese mother,” was one off-subject response to the embassy’s post offering a free dinner for two.

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Should a Muslim accused in Ft. Hood mass shooting be forced to shave beard for trial?

Paul Koring

U.S. Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of mass murder in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, grew a beard in anticipation of meeting Allah.

For many devout Muslims, being clean-shaven at death is considered a sin and Maj. Hasan faces execution if he is convicted on any or all of 13 counts of premeditated murder he faces.

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Myanmar grapples with the weight of new-found ‘free media’

Mark MacKinnon

Something remarkable happened in Myanmar this week. For the first time in 48 years, newspapers and magazines were allowed to go to print without first having a censor approve and edit their articles.

The pace of change in the country better known as Burma has been so fast that it can be difficult to appreciate. Less than two years ago, the country was still ruled by a junta, a situation that seemed depressingly eternal. Even the country’s first elections, held in November 2010, seemed designed only to entrench military rule. But the process that gerrymandered vote began now seems to have unstoppable momentum.

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Latest attacks on President Obama paint him as ‘Leaker-in-Chief’

Paul Koring

Falsely fingering Barack Obama as a foreign-born Muslim failed to keep him from being the first African-American elected president four years ago.

But smear campaigns often work well in American politics and the latest attacks on Mr. Obama disparage him a self-glorifying commander-in-chief whose loose-lipped inner circle has endangered the special forces who hunted down and killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

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Fate of ousted Chinese politician uncertain after wife’s sentence

Mark Mackinnon

Gu Kailai will either be executed or spend a very long time in prison. The question that remains now is what will happen to her husband Bo Xilai, a man who just six months ago seemed destined to join the elite club that rules China.

Ms. Gu was convicted Sunday of murdering a British businessman and given a death sentence, the implementation of which has been suspended for two years. Legal experts say her punishment is likely to be commuted then to life in prison.

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South Africa mine shooting leaves 34 dead and a nation reeling

Geoffrey York

One of the bloodiest police shootings since the days of apartheid has killed 34 miners and injured 78 at a South African platinum mine, leaving the nation in crisis and searching its soul over the rising levels of violent protest and police brutality.

South African President Jacob Zuma cut short a foreign tour, abandoning a regional summit in Mozambique to rush to the mine site. Politicians condemned the shooting, while the South African media called it a massacre and analysts accused the police of an excessive response to the striking mineworkers.

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Ryan’s candidacy shifts U.S. election focus from poor economy to Medicare

Konrad Yakabuski

Since Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney named Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the focus of the U.S. presidential campaign has shifted rapidly from the economy to Medicare.

Mr. Ryan’s plan to give future seniors the option of accepting a fixed government subsidy to buy private health insurance, to rein in overall costs, has given President Barack Obama breathing space to avoid talking about his own economic record.

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In India, a new local hero fast emerges

STEPHANIE NOLEN

It’s starting to seem like a regular August occurrence: Normal life in the Indian capital is hijacked by one charismatic anti-corruption crusader or another who stages a public fast in the heart of the city and gathers thousands of followers to sit and watch him not eat. Now also part of the annual routine is a botched arrest of that leader by the city police, which serves to inflame those supporters further and draws tight-lipped scorn from the ruling Indian National Congress.

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‘Creative’ Olympic medal count puts Grenada on top, Canada ahead of U.S.

Paul Koring

Forget the intense Sino-American medal race. That’s just an old-fashioned “first-past-the-post” way of determining victory.

What medal-starved nationalists need is a new, self-serving means of counting.

In an Olympics where subjective calls on everything from soccer fouls to trampoline tumbles picks the winners and relegates the losers, the tally of which country boasts the best depends on who’s counting.

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Lebanon’s new Patriarch wary of regime change in Syria

Patrick Martin

It was a long way to go to mass Sunday.

In the past, I have sometimes dropped in on the Maronite Patriarch in Bkerke, his stately residence on Mount Lebanon not far outside Beirut. I attend Sunday mass (usually a high mass since he’s celebrating it) and then join others afterwards in the dewan (reception salon) to chat with him.

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For Lebanon’s President Suleiman, a week fraught with political peril

Patrick Martin

It's not easy being president of Lebanon.

Never mind that the Christian head of state's powers have been shorn over the years and that greater power lies in the hands of the Sunni prime minister and in the multi-confessional parliament.

Or that real power in the country can be found in a Shia political/militant movement (Hezbollah) that elected, by choice, only a handful of MPs, and whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah would not soil his hands by entering parliament himself. Hezbollah's Shia and Christian allies do the dirty work for him.

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How Chick-fil-A turned a sandwich into a gay marriage statement

Paul Koring

Same-sex marriage: the issue is serious and divisive. But after two weeks of increasingly wild charges and counter charges, eating one brand of chicken sandwich has been dubbed a hate crime and kissing your same-sex partner in public is a new form of political protest.

It’s the Chick-fil-A furor.

On Friday, gay and lesbian couples will kiss inside and in front of Chick-fil-A restaurants across America in an angry act of protest.

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‘Bouncy Stonehenge’ aims to please history buffs and fun-seekers alike

Elizabeth Renzetti

“We’ve had a few Druids,” said Jeremy Deller. “I think they quite enjoyed it.”

Druids bouncing on an inflatable Stonehenge: maybe it could be a new Olympic sport?

The Turner Prize-winning artist was standing next to his latest work, which is technically called Sacrilege but is known to everyone who’s enjoyed it as simply, “bouncy Stonehenge.”

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Does the U.S. government have the right to kill its own citizens?

Paul Koring

A Hellfire missile obliterated a 16-year-old American citizen in Yemen last fall.

U.S. President Barrack Obama personally signs off on all such “targeted killings,” and while most are directed against foreigners – usually Muslims suspected of being radical jihadists – at least three Americans are among the hundreds killed in the last three years in drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Hellfire missiles fired from unmanned Predators have become the president’s preferred means of dealing “justice” overseas.

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Affluent Syrians return to Damascus after city declared ‘safe’

Patrick Martin

Syrian refugees continue to flow across the Syria-Lebanon border but a majority of them are heading in the reverse direction.

At the frontier crossing of Masnaa, the principal land-link an hour east of Beirut and 40 minutes west of Damascus, cars overflowing with people and many of their worldly possessions continue to drive into Lebanon at the rate of about 10 an hour, seeking refuge from the raging conflict in Syria.

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London's hot mess of a mayor winning the political Olympics

Doug Saunders

From the beginning, the London Olympics has been a tale of two Tories. And it seemed clear that one of them – the suave, chiselled household-name athletic hero who was officially running the Games – was going to come out the victor.

The other – the staggering, infidelity-ridden hot mess of a mayor, who had no genuine role in the Games – was going to be an embarrassment, a flop, the man blamed for every traffic jam and no credit for the glory.

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