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Zuma’s reluctant exit ushers in new S.African president

South Africa prepared to welcome wealthy former businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as its new president Thursday after scandal-tainted Jacob Zuma resigned under intense pressure from his own party. Zuma announced he had stepped down in a late-night television address in which he took some digs at the African National Congress (ANC) …

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Thailand’s Mr Bean plays jails for laughs

(AFP) – With the signature red tie, brown blazer, briefcase and teddy bear, a Thai computer technician has become a national sensation through his uncanny Mr Bean impersonations that are tickling a country that loves slapstick comedy. Mongkol Preechajan, a 43-year-old father from Phuket with more than a passing resemblance …

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Saudi cleric endorses Valentine’s Day as ‘positive event’

– A prominent Saudi cleric on Wednesday endorsed Valentine’s Day, long forbidden in the ultra-conservative kingdom, calling it a “positive social event” that was not linked to religion. The comment from Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi, former chief of the religious police in the holy city of Mecca, comes as 32-year-old Crown …

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Back on track: Trains to return to historic Istanbul station

Built in the first decade of the 20th century as Europe’s gateway to the east, Istanbul Haydarpasa railway station stands proudly on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, its gothic towers looming over the waters. The imposing facade has witnessed and survived more than a century of turbulent and sometimes …

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Blackouts, flooding as cyclone batters Tongan capital

A battered Nuku’alofa began cleaning up Tuesday after the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Tongan capital tore roofs off buildings, downed powerlines and caused extensive flooding, prompting a state of emergency in the tiny Pacific nation. Veteran disaster management officials were shocked at the fury of Severe Cyclone …

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