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Black Cat

US man 'kills four people' in New York 28-hour rampage

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© AP
The attacks began after an argument between the suspect and his mother
A man fatally stabbed his stepfather, ex-girlfriend and her mother, before running over a pedestrian in a 28-hour rampage in New York City, police said.

The man, alleged to be Ukrainian-born Maksim Gelman, 23, was armed with five knives when he went on a stabbing spree early on Friday, officials said.

Four other people were knifed but survived the attacks.

Mr Gelman was finally arrested on a train on Saturday morning after an all-night manhunt.

Charges against him are pending.

"It's so horrendous and bizarre. We have no reason to know why he did this," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

He said had not recalled seeing "anything like this" in the decades he had worked for the New York police department.

Pistol

Switzerland rejects tighter gun controls

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Swiss No campaign poster against banning firearms
Swiss voters have rejected proposed tighter controls on gun ownership, near-complete results show.

It means that the voters decided during the referendum to retain the current system, which allows army-issued weapons to be kept at home.

Supporters of the tighter curbs wanted to have weapons kept in armouries and demanded stricter checks on gun owners.

Opponents said the move would undermine trust in the army. The final result of the vote is expected soon.

Near-complete results show at least 14 out of 26 Swiss cantons rejected the proposal in Sunday's vote.

Penis Pump

Tensions rise in Italy over Silvio Berlusconi sex charges

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© Massimo Di Nonno/Getty Images
Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi protest in Milan against the charges of bribery, corruption and under-age prostitution against the prime minister.
Beleaguered prime minister due to meet president as judge prepares to rule on indictment allegation

A beleaguered Silvio Berlusconi is due to meet the president, Giorgio Napolitano, for urgent talks on Friday as tensions grew between his supporters and opponents over the prospect of his being committed to trial on sex charges.

The prime minister claimed in an interview he was the target of an attempt to oust him by undemocratic means. But any hopes he may have had of getting his position endorsed by the head of state were dashed when Napolitano pointedly remarked that Italy's constitution included "the guarantees for a fair trial".

Demonstrations are to be held on Sunday in 257 Italian and foreign cities, including London and New York, in defense of the dignity of Italy's women. The slogan for the rallies comes from the title of Primo Levi's novel of wartime resistance, If Not Now, When?

Followers of the prime minister are planning to take to the streets of Milan on Saturday. On Thursday about 100 Berlusconi supporters, led by a junior minister in his rightwing government, staged a protest outside the courthouse in Milan where Berlusconi may be tried. Some carried placards reading "Silvio must resist, resist, resist".

Black Cat

Julian Assange public enemy number one

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© Rocky Sawyer 2010
Julian Assange
"Inflammatory" criticism of Julian Assange by the Swedish prime minister has turned the WikiLeaks founder into public enemy number one, a court heard today.

Swedish authorities want to extradite the whistleblower for alleged sex offences but his lawyer argued the comments made this week could damage his chance of a fair trial.

Speaking on the final day of his extradition hearing, Geoffrey Robertson QC, told Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south east London that Sweden's prime minister had made an attack on Assange and his defence counsel.

He said: "He has effectively been denounced as an enemy of the people."

Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's remarks were said to include claims that Assange and his lawyers had been "condescending and damaging to Sweden" and to have implied that they thought women's rights were worthless.

Mr Robertson said: "In a small country...it has created a toxic atmosphere, media are reporting it and it is a basis for comment.

Light Sabers

Wikileaks threatens action against ex-colleague of Assange

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© Schreiber/Ericson/AP
Former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg will launch a rival site to Julian Assange's.
WikiLeaks says it will take legal action against a former key member of the website who left after a bitter fallout with founder Julian Assange and went on to set up a rival whistle-blowing platform.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, confirmed that the organisation intends to sue Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German transparency campaigner who - until his departure last September - was one of the few public faces of the secretive whistle-blowing platform.

Mr. Domscheit-Berg, who is launching his own whistle-blowing websites OpenLeaks, has written a warts and all memoir of his time at WikiLeaks in which he accuses Mr Assange of being an irresponsible and autocratic leader who once threatened to kill him.

"Inside WikiLeaks", which went on sale in Germany today and will be published in Britain next week, is one of just a number of recent memoirs from people who have worked with Mr Assange that portray the WikiLeaks founder in a poor light.

In some of the most damaging passages, Mr Domscheit-Berg describes his former colleague as an intensely paranoid man who began travelling with bodyguards, ruled over his followers as an "emperor" and had a particular fondness for young women, money and power.

Network

Judge gives go-ahead to add fluoride to city's tap water supply - despite overwhelming public opposition

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© Getty Images
Plans to add fluoride to tap water in Southampton were endorsed by a judge yesterday
United Kingdom - Plans to add fluoride to tap water in a major city were endorsed by a judge yesterday despite overwhelming public opposition.

Mr Justice Holman rejected claims that the decision-making process was defective and dismissed a legal challenge to the scheme in Southampton.

Hampshire council and three quarters of residents oppose the plans drawn up by the strategic health authority. But dentists say the scheme will cut tooth decay in children.

Just 10 per cent of England's water is fluoridated, covering 5.5million people, mainly in the North East and West Midlands. The last fluoridation scheme was introduced in 1985.

Refusing a claim for judicial review by Southampton mother-of-three Geraldine Milner, the judge said there had been no illegality.

'It is important to stress that our democratic Parliament decided long ago that water can, in certain circumstances, be fluoridated,' he added.

Attention

China's drought threatens global food security

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This is not looking good folks
China's $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and the serious drought it is facing in its wheat producing north pose a serious danger to global food security, especially in the food importing developing world, according to an nytimes.com report Feb 8.

China's state media reported Feb 7 that the country's major wheat producing provinces in the north were facing their worst drought in 60 years. It also reported Feb 8 that Shandong Province, a cornerstone of Chinese grain production, was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years unless substantial precipitation came by the end of Feb'11.

But with $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, nearly three times that of Japan, the country with the world's second-largest reserves, China has ample buying power to prevent any serious food shortages, noted the nytimes.com report.

"They can buy whatever they need to buy, and they can outbid anyone," it quoted Robert S. Zeigler, the director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, in the Philippines, as saying. That will obviously mean serious trouble for other developing food-importing countries.

Che Guevara

Bolivian President Evo Morales flees town ahead of speech after angry miners throw dynamite in protest at food shortages

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© Reuters
Out of favour: Bolivian President Evo Morales is under fire over rising prices, with protesters throwing dynamite at a march in Oruro yesterday
Bolivian President Evo Morales has abruptly abandoned a mining town after protesters angered by rising prices booed him and set off dynamite.

Mr Morales was due to speak on the anniversary of a colonial uprising in Oruro but canceled plans to participate in a march yesterday after demonstrations against rising food prices and shortages.

There were also protests in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, and the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.

The Bolivian populace are angry over a near doubling in the price of sugar after the government lifted subsidies.

The president's popularity has plummeted since he tried to lift subsidies on gasoline, flour and sugar in December.

He subsequently abandoned the effort - but did remove price controls on sugar.

As he prepared to deliver a speech in Oruro yesterday, the capital of his home province, protesters set off explosions to voice their unhappiness at the price rises.

Arrow Down

UK: Food shortages leave thousands in dire straits

Food convoys are delivering emergency aid to desperate people - in Devon.

A charity that normally helps starving orphans in Romania and Bulgaria is on a relief mercy mission in Okehampton after the town's two biggest employers closed.

People queued down the street outside a food distribution centre yesterday.

Local councillor Christine Marsh said: "This is a dire emergency. Families don't have any food or money to buy food."

The town of 7,000 people was rocked when a pie factory closed suddenly a week ago with the loss of 260 jobs. Workers had not been paid since mid-January.

Days earlier a large dairy had shut, chopping 70 jobs.

Dad-of-six Karl Jansz, 47, who lost his pie factory job, said: "I worked there for 25 years. My wife also worked there. We were left in a mess."

Che Guevara

Iraqi forces guard Green Zone from protest as Arabian revolution spreads

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Iraqi police officers in riot gear stand guard during a protest against the lack of basic services in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Iraqi security forces stopped demonstrators from entering the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, sources said.

Waves of political unrest are sweeping across the Arab world in the wake of the revolution in Tunisia and the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt, which were largely peaceful Friday.

Protesters in Baghdad told the Voices of Iraq news agency that they wanted more jobs, improved social services and a less corrupt government. Many Iraqis are without jobs and electricity more than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion.

There were several protests reported by the news agency in Basra, the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and the restive northern city of Kirkuk. Army helicopters were reported hovering over the Green Zone, the heavily fortified administrative center.