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Assange: Internet is World's 'Greatest Spying Machine'

Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Tuesday warned that the Internet was the "greatest spying machine the world has ever seen" and an obstacle to free speech.

Speaking to students at Britain's prestigious Cambridge University, the former computer hacker claimed that the Internet, particularly social networking sites such as Facebook, gave governments greater scope for snooping.

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Australia Mulls Lifting Ban on Hemp Foods

Australia's food watchdog said Wednesday it may lift its ban on food derived from hemp, with the man pushing for change promising cannabis ice-cream if successful.

Hemp foods are widely available in many overseas markets, including Europe, Canada and the United States, and deregistered Sydney doctor Andrew Katelaris has applied for the rules to be overturned in Australia.

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YouTube Buys Green Parrot Pictures

Google-owned YouTube said Tuesday that it has bought an Irish digital video company whose technology can help improve the quality of amateur footage submitted to the video-sharing site.

Financial details of the acquisition of Green Parrot Pictures, which was founded by Anil Kokaram, an associate professor at the engineering school of Trinity College in Dublin, were not disclosed.

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Enquist: The Multiple Lives of a Swedish Literary Giant

In one life, Per Olov Enquist has been an oppressed child, an athlete, a journalist and a depressed and destructive alcoholic, but in another life -- the one that really counts in his eyes -- he is an author, a giant in the world of Swedish literature.

Spry for his 76 years, Enquist tells Agence France Presse in an interview that he is savoring "a different life", which is also the title of his latest work, an autobiography.

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Toyota to Partially Resume Production in 7 Plants

Toyota said it would resume partial production of car parts at seven plants in Japan on Thursday, after suspending all factories following the nation's biggest ever earthquake.

The plants will first begin making replacement parts for the domestic market, and on Monday restart production of parts to supply to its overseas factories.

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Online Anonymity Icon Dislikes Facebook Model

The founder of Internet anonymity haven 4chan thinks Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is mistaken when it comes to online identities.

Remaining unknown online frees people to blaze ahead with creative endeavors they might otherwise shy away from for fear of being embarrassed, Christopher "moot" Poole said at the South By Southwest festival ending Tuesday in Texas.

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Mad Hatter Johnny Depp Named 'Hat Person of The year'

Johnny Depp has been crowned "hat person of the year," beating out other celebrity hat-wearers including U.S. singer Gwen Stefani and Australian actor Hugh Jackman, the U.S. Headwear Association said Tuesday.

Nearly four in 10 visitors to the Headwear Association's website voted in the annual poll for "Pirates of the Caribbean" star Depp and his wide-brimmed fedoras, helping him to roundly beat Stefani and Jackman who garnered 17 percent and 16 percent of votes cast, respectively.

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Russia Bans 'Putin-Medvedev' Vodka Brand

Russia has banned a firm from registering as a trademark a brand of vodka whose name appears to play on the names of its ruling duo, Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday.

Russia's patent agency refused to allow a company to register as a trademark the name "Volodya and Medvedi," with Volodya a diminutive of Vladimir, and Medvedi, or bears, sounding similar to the surname Medvedev, it reported.

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Syrian Police Disperse Protest for Families of Jailed Rights Activists

Syrian security forces on Wednesday dispersed a demonstration by dozens of relatives of prisoners near the interior ministry, Agence France Presse correspondents said.

At least four protesters were arrested, the correspondents said, after the demonstrators gathered in a public square near the ministry in central Damascus.

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Iranian Plane En Route to Syria Forced to Land in Turkey

An Iranian cargo plane en route to Syria was forced to land in Turkey's southeastern Diyarbakir airport for an inspection, security sources said Wednesday.

The plane landed following an order from the Turkish foreign ministry citing suspicion of military or nuclear related cargo on board, the sources said.

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