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Singapore President Takes Walk on The Wild Side

Singapore's President Tony Tan took a walk on the wild side Friday with a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London as he wrapped up his state visit to Britain.

Tan toured the gardens, the world's largest collection of living plants, at the end of a historic four-day visit, during which he stayed with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

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Suspicious Envelopes Sent to Foreign Missions in Istanbul

Suspicious envelopes containing a yellow powder were sent Friday to the Belgian, Canadian and German consulates in Istanbul, prompting a security alert, officials said.

One person who opened the envelope at the Canadian mission was directly exposed to the unknown substance, which was now being analysed by experts, Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said.

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Nepal Bus Crash Kills 14, including Three Foreigners

An overloaded bus plunged down a hill in central Nepal on Friday, killing at least 14 people including three foreigners, police said.

The bus was crowded with tourists and Nepalese people travelling for the Hindu festival of Tihar when it crashed in Nuwakot, a small hill town outside Kathmandu, local police official Sarita Rajbhandari told Agence France Presse.

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Militant Group Claims Suicide Bombing against Pakistani Politician

A militant group Friday claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing targeting the head of a leading Pakistani religious political party.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party escaped unscathed from the blast after addressing a rally in the capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province on Thursday.

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Corruption: Ukraine's Deadly Enemy Within

With war spreading through Ukraine, single mother Valentyna decided to fight -- that is, to save her son from conscription. And in this corruption-riddled country, a quiet word in the right ear was enough.

The going rate to bribe the Ukrainian draft board to remove a young man's name from the list is about $2,000 (1,580 euros), or more than seven times the average monthly salary, according to several sources familiar with the system.

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At Least 824,000 Displaced by Ukraine Conflict

The conflict in Ukraine has driven more than 824,000 people from their homes, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday, warning that it was having to scramble aid to offset the impact of winter.

At least 430,000 people had been displaced within Ukraine as of Thursday, UNHCR said, 170,000 more than at the start of September.

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Sweden Calls Off Search for Mystery Subs

Sweden called off a massive hunt Friday for at least one mystery foreign submarine in its waters that had worrying echoes of Cold War stand-offs, after calling the incursion "unacceptable".

The search, which stirred up memories of cat-and-mouse games with suspected Soviet submarines along Sweden's long, rugged coastline before fall of the Berlin Wall, had involved battleships, minesweepers and helicopters as well as more than 200 troops.

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Pro-Russian Mood Lingers in ex-Rebel City as Ukraine Vote Looms

In the war-scarred city of Slavyansk in east Ukraine few people are looking to the future with hope as they gear up for a parliamentary poll this Sunday.

For more than two months the provincial town was the epicentre of fierce fighting between Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed rebels until the insurgents surrendered it to government troops in July in the face of a fierce onslaught.

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French Journalists' Papua Jail Terms Spark Calls for Reform

Two French journalists were Friday handed short jail terms for illegally reporting in Papua, sparking calls for the new Indonesian government to lift long-standing restrictions on foreigners covering the restive province.

Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, were each given a two and a half month jail term, but will walk free on Monday after having already served the time in custody awaiting trial. 

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Hong Kong Protesters to Hold Street Vote

Hong Kong's democracy activists are planning a street vote to gauge protesters' views on conciliatory offers from the government, as the city's former leader on Friday called on them to clear the streets.

The leaders of the mass demonstrations that have paralysed parts of the city for nearly a month said they will poll demonstrators at the main protest camp opposite government headquarters on Sunday evening. 

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