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China explosion kills 10, wounds 157

By (PNA/Xinhua) Yulin, Shaanxi – A powerful explosion at a prefabricated house damaged nearby buildings in a northwestern county Monday afternoon, leaving at least 10 dead and 157 injured, local authorities said, as rescue efforts continued into the night. The explosion occurred at 2 p.m. at Xinmin Township, Fugu County, in the province of Shaanxi. An initial investigation indicated that the makeshift house had been built inside a residential compound. It remains unclear what caused the explosion.     The township's hospital was among the buildings destroyed or damaged by the blast, Xinhua reporters at the scene confirmed. Dozens of firefighters and rescuers are combing the rubble for more survivors. There was a brief power cut during the night but the rescue continued, as rescuers are hopeful that there are still people alive under the rubble. As of …

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Hong Kong court sees chilling video of torture

Hong Kong–  A jury in Hong Kong watched chilling video Tuesday of a British banker describing how he tortured and killed an Indonesian woman he met in a bar, saying he repeatedly raped her and "tortured her badly." In the video he shot, Rurik Jutting, a Cambridge University graduate on trial in Hong Kong's High Court for the murder of two Indonesian women, can be seen shirtless in his apartment. "My name is Rurik Jutting. About five minutes ago I just killed, murdered, this woman here," he says into the camera. He also pointed the camera down briefly to show the body of Sumarti Ningsih, 23, lying face down in a bathroom. Moments later he holds up his hand, which can be seen shaking. "It's Monday night. I've held her captive since early Saturday, …

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Maduro meets pope as Vatican steps into Venezuela crisis

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met Monday with Pope Francis as the Vatican took a more active role trying to defuse a tense political standoff in the South American nation. Maduro spoke with the Pope in a private meeting on his way back to Venezuela following a tour of oil-producing nations of the Middle East. As news of the surprise papal meeting surfaced, back in Venezuela Monsignor Emil Paul Tscherrig, who Francis dispatched in a bid to jumpstart dialogue between the government and the opposition, announced that representatives of the two sides would meet Oct. 30 on the Venezuelan island of Margarita under the auspices of the Vatican and the Union of South American Nations. "It's important to have light, a lamp to guide us through this tunnel of a fight that we've entered," …

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Kenya: 12 killed in extremist attack in the country’s north

Gunmen from an extremist group killed 12 people in an attack targeting non-Muslims in Kenya's northern Mandera County, near the Somali border, an official said Tuesday. Somali-based extremist group al-Shabab is suspected of carrying out the early-morning attack on the Bishaaro Guest House, said Mohamed Saleh, Mandera's regional commander. The gunmen used grenades and improvised explosive devices to break into the guest house and then stormed in with guns, he said. Al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops into Somalia since 2011 to fight the militants, who are waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak, Western-backed government. Kenyan security forces have managed to stop the wave of al-Shabab attacks in major cities in Kenya that have killed hundreds. However, Mandera County remains a volatile area. Al-Shabab militants hijacked a bus in Mandera in …

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‘Jackie’ says she felt pressure to be in Rolling Stone rape story

The woman whose harrowing account of being gang raped at the University of Virginia was the centerpiece of a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article testified in a deposition heard by the public for the first time on Monday that the story was what she believed “to be true at the time.” A video deposition of the woman identified in the article only as “Jackie” was played for jurors Monday in the defamation trial against Rolling Stone magazine for the 2014 article “A Rape on Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo is seeking $7.5 million from the magazine, claiming she was cast as the story’s “chief villain.” A police investigation later found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims. “Jackie” said she has trouble remembering details of her …

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England’s ‘most haunted village’ gears up for Halloween

With Halloween in the air, ghouls are set to emerge from the shadows in the quiet streets of Pluckley, reputedly the most haunted village in England. But it is not so much the ghosts that are spooking the inhabitants but the hordes of booze-fuelled thrill-seekers prowling around the settlement. "There's always some people who mess around. The village generally would rather Halloween did not happen," Chris Housman, chairman of Pluckley Parish Council, told AFP. Nestled by the chalk hills of Kent in southeast England, Pluckley is a tranquil village of some 800 souls that was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book, Britain's earliest public record. It has an old church, a graveyard, the Black Horse pub and a butcher's, and ivy creeps up the walls of its red-brick buildings. On the face of it, Pluckley …

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Islamist militants kill 58 in Pakistan police attack

Heavily-armed Islamist militants wearing suicide vests stormed a Pakistani police academy, killing at least 58 people and wounding dozens more, officials said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest extremist attacks this year. Three gunmen from a Pakistani Taliban-linked group burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters that are home to some 700 recruits, sending terrified young men fleeing. "I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs," one cadet told reporters. "They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall." The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres east of provincial capital Quetta, began at around 11:10 pm (1810 GMT) Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours. Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Balochistan province, told reporters …

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U.S. to release Internet of Things principles after Friday’s cyberattacks

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government said Monday that it will release in the coming weeks a set of principles for securing the Internet of Things, or Internet-connected devices, which were employed partly by hackers to carry out Friday's cyberattacks that disrupted major U.S. websites. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday his department is "closely monitoring" events arising from the distributed denial of service attacks on a domain name services company called Dyn on Friday, which caused major services such as Twitter, Paypal and some other U.S. websites to be inaccessible for about two hours for many users, especially those on the U.S. East Coast. According to Johnson, his department has convened a conference call of about 18 major communication service providers to share information about the incident later that …

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Polio worldwide reduced by 99% since 1988 – UN spokesman

UNITED NATIONS -- On World Polio Day, which falls on Oct. 24, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that since the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, polio worldwide has been reduced by 99 percent. "Despite that progress, as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease," Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here. "There is no cure for polio, but polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life," he said. Over the past 12 months, in addition to polio endemic countries Pakistan and Afghanistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have supported polio campaigns in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Djibouti, Jordan and Lebanon, he said. "Campaigns …

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Iraqis are world’s most generous to strangers — global survey

LONDON - Although torn by civil war, Iraq is the world's most generous country towards strangers in need, according to a new global index of charitable giving. Eighty one percent of Iraqis reported helping someone they didn't know in the previous month, in a global poll commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). For the first time since CAF began the poll in 2010, more than half of people in 140 countries surveyed said they had helped strangers - with many of the most generous found in countries hit hard by disaster and war. Despite suffering instability and violence, Iraq has twice been ranked top in terms of helping strangers. Libya, with its own internal conflict, was second on the list this year and Somalia, embroiled in civil war for 25 years, fourth. "I …

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