North Korea’s Kim blames South for mistrust in New Year speech

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the 3rd Meeting of Activists in Fisheries under the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 29, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA North Korean leader Kim Jong Un blamed South Korea on Friday for increased mistrust in a New Year speech after a ... Read More »

Imprisoned Saudi blogger’s health deteriorating, wife says

Ensaf Haidar, the wife of jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, poses with a portrait of her husband as she receives the 2015 Sakharov Prize on his behalf during a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/VINCENT KESSLER Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, recent recipient of a prestigious European human rights award, has suffered fainting spells ... Read More »

Massive fire at Dubai skyscraper interrupts New Year’s Eve fireworks

A huge fire which engulfed part of a luxury hotel in Dubai, near where revellers had gathered to watch a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, has been brought under control without any fatalities. The inferno lit up the side of the Address Downtown hotel near the centre of the city, scattering bystanders and shoppers in a nearby mall. The Dubai ... Read More »

China arrests 11 for deadly landslide, death toll now 12

An aerial view shows excavators and rescuers work among the debris at the site of a landslide which hit an industrial park on Sunday, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, December 23, 2015. Chinese authorities have formally arrested 11 people for their role in a deadly landslide last month in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen and charged them with negligently causing ... Read More »

Floods swamp Missouri, Illinois; nine million people in risk areas

Towns in Tennessee and southern Illinois prepared on Thursday to cope with potential flooding after rain-swollen rivers washed out hundreds of structures in Missouri, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma and forced thousands to flee their homes. As of Thursday morning, some 9.3 million people nationwide were in areas with flood warnings. That was down from 12.1 million on Wednesday and 17.7 ... Read More »

Mother of ‘affluenza’ teen detained in Los Angeles after Mexico deportation

Tonya Couch held in custody until she can be taken to her home state of Texas next week to face charges of hindering apprehension of a felon Tonya Couch, center, is taken by authorities to a waiting car after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday. Photograph: Mark J. Terrill/AP The mother of fugitive “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch will ... Read More »

Nepalese women trafficked to Syria and forced to work as maids

Unscrupulous agents lure women into conflict zones with promises of employment abroad only to leave them working long hours for little or no pay Gyanu Reshmi Magar, 25, was trafficked to Syria from Nepal. ‘All I did was work and sleep. I didn’t leave the house for seven months.’ Photograph: Pete Pattisson While millions are fleeing the brutal conflict in ... Read More »

White House delays imposing new sanctions on Iran – Wall St Journal

The White House has delayed imposing new financial sanctions on Iran over its ballistic-missile programme, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. On Wednesday, the Journal, citing U.S. officials, said the Obama administration was preparing to sanction nearly a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their role in developing Iran’s ballistic-missile programme. ... Read More »

Novel about Jewish-Palestinian love affair is barred from Israeli curriculum

Government accused of censorship after reportedly saying the award-winning Borderlife by Dorit Rabinyan risked damaging the ‘identity of the nation’ Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan with her book Borderlife. Photograph: Gil Cohen Magen/AFP/Getty Images A novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man has been barred from Israel’s high school curriculum, reportedly over concerns that it ... Read More »

Blaze hits Dubai skyscraper, New Year’s fireworks proceed nearby

Fire engulfed a 63-storey skyscraper in Dubai on Thursday night, but with the block evacuated and only minor injuries reported authorities went ahead with a New Year’s fireworks display at the world’s tallest building a few hundred metres away. Tongues of flame shot skywards from one side of the luxury Address Downtown Dubai hotel and residential block, which stands across ... Read More »