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Friday, Dec 19th

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Japanese newspaper retracts term ‘sex slaves’ from wartime coverage

Japanese newspaperJapan’s biggest-selling newspaper has apologised for its past use of the term “sex slaves” to describe tens of thousands of women who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during the second world war.

The move by the Yomiuri Shimbun, a conservative broadsheet with a daily circulation of more than 10 million, has fuelled concern that sections of the country’s media have signed up to a government-led campaign to rewrite Japan’s wartime history and portray its actions on the Asian mainland in a more favourable light.

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UN torture report condemns sleep deprivation among US detainees

UN torture reportThe US military has retained the power to inflict prolonged sleep deprivation on detainees, despite moves by the Obama administration to eliminate interrogation techniques that amount to torture and ill-treatment, the United Nations warned on Friday.

In a review of the human rights record of the US, the first of its kind since 2006, the world body’s committee against torture has slammed the country for its ongoing violations of international treaties.

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Sony makes experimental e-paper watch

e-paper watchSony has developed a watch made from e-paper as part of an initiative to experiment with the use of the material for fashion products.

The Fes Watch has a minimalist, monochrome design but falls short of the features offered by smartwatches.  However, the battery of the e-paper watch could last far longer with an estimated 60 days of use.

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Nigeria unrest: Kano mosque attack kills dozens

Nigeria osque attackDozens have been killed in a gun and bomb attack during prayers at one of the biggest mosques in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, officials say.

Many more people have been hurt, with one rescue official putting casualty figures at almost 400. The Central Mosque is where the influential Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, usually leads prayers.

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'Eye of Sauron' black hole helps astronomers measure cosmic distances

Eye od Sauron black holeThanks to the "Eye of Sauron" black hole, researchers have developed a new way to measure large cosmic distances. The supermassive black hole sits in the middle of an active galaxy known as NGC 4151 -- a galaxy that resembles the fiery red evil eye of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films.

An intimate understanding of how black holes behave is key to the new measurement technique. Astronomers know that nearby gas is constantly being sucked into active black holes. As it's pulled inward, the gas heats up and emits ultraviolet radiation. That heated gas transfers its heat to a ring of dust that orbits the black hole.

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Activists and Walmart employees rally on Black Friday

Walmart protestsWalmart workers, backed by a supporting cast of civil rights and labor activists, protested at store locations throughout the country on Black Friday.

The number of protesters and their origin -- whether they were labor activists or actual Walmart employees -- was unclear, with the company and organizers giving wildly different accounts. Representatives of OURWalmart claimed Thursday 200-300 people would attend their Washington, D.C., march and demonstration, and protesters nationwide would number in the "thousands."

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A Year After Congressional Testimony, Drone Strike Victims Still Searching for Justice

drone strikesDrone strikes launched on October 11 of this year in Pakistan's Tirah Valley in the Khyber region and in Shawal in the North Waziristan region brought the total number of strikes in Pakistan to 400 since June 2004. The CIA's covert drone program regularly strikes parts of Yemen and Somalia as well.

In addition, a US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against IS fighters since the US military first launched its own airstrikes in Iraq in August. An increased emphasis on drone warfare to combat IS forces has longtime critics of the CIA's covert drone program, especially as it's used in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, on guard.

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UN panel raps US record on torture

stop torturePolice brutality, military interrogations and prisons were among the top concerns of a U.N. panel's report Friday that found the United States to be falling short of full compliance with an international anti-torture treaty.

The report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture, its first such review of the U.S. record since 2006, expressed concerns about allegations of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, particularly the Chicago Police Department's treatment of blacks and Latinos.

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Morocco hosts 'masquerade' civil rights forum

Morrocco sham civil rights forumMorocco’s foremost civil liberties activists won’t attend an international forum on human rights on Thursday launched by the government in the tourist hub of Marrakech. After numerous government attempts this year to bar them from organizing, the activists call the event “a farce” designed to perpetuate misconceptions about the state’s self-branded progressivism.

The Moroccan Association of Human Rights, known by its French abbreviation AMDH, says that this year's World Forum on Human Rights — an annual gathering of international rights activists — is a “masquerade” designed to deceive Western political and business partners about the North African kingdom's 2011 political reform project, launched in response to an ongoing popular movement for civil liberties. A handful of other rights groups are also boycotting the event.

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