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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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Afghan opium poppy yield hits all-time high

Afghan poppy yieldOpium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has hit an all-time high despite years of counter-narcotics efforts that have cost the US $7.6bn (£4.7bn), according to a US government watchdog.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that Afghan farmers grew an “unprecedented” 209,000 hectares (523,000 acres) of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous high of 193,000 hectares in 2007, said John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

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IS fighters seize weapons airdrop meant for Kurds

Isis seize weapons meant for KurdsISIS fighters seized at least one cache of weapons airdropped by U.S.-led coalition forces that were meant to suppy Kurdish militiamen battling the extremist group in a border town, activists said Tuesday.

The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to ISIS. The video appeared authentic and corresponded to The Associated Press' reporting of the event. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants had seized at least once cache, but may have seized more.

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Paralyzed man walks again after cell transplant

paralyzed man walks againA paralysed man has been able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.

Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.

The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.  Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.

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Legendary designer Oscar de la Renta has died

Oscar de la RentaOne of the world's most legendary fashion designers, Oscar de la Renta, died Monday. He was 82.

De la Renta's health was described earlier this month by the New York Times as "precarious." He had cancer in 2006, and at his women's wear show in September looked "frail."

Known for dressing celebrities, stateswomen and fashionistas of all kinds, de la Renta's most recent famous moment came when he designed Amal Clooney's wedding dress just last month.

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Marijuana decriminalized in Philadelphia

Philly decriminalizes potA veteran of the U.S. Marines who is now an advocate for marijuana became the first person Monday to get a ticket under Philadelphia's new law.

The citation was arranged in advance between Mike Whiter and the Philadelphia Police Department. At 8 a.m., he lit a joint in the City Hall courtyard and was promptly given a ticket carrying a $100 fine.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews attack Jerusalem buses over ad

Ultra orthodox Jews attack busesDozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews hurled stones and slashed the tires of buses bearing ads promoting female worship at a key Jerusalem holy site, Israeli police said Tuesday.

The attack, which happened on Monday night in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood, underscores the still simmering tensions in Israel over religious extremists who want to separate the sexes in public spaces.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police units were dispatched to quell the violence in Mea Shearim where about 50 men slashed tires and pelted the buses with stones.

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Egypt sets appeal hearing for Al-Jazeera staff

Al jazeera journalistA Cairo court has set an appeals hearing for three Al-Jazeera English journalists convicted of terrorism-related charges last June amid widespread international condemnation.

Adel Fahmy, the brother of Mohammed Fahmy, acting Cairo bureau chief for Al-Jazeera English, said the scheduled court date is Jan. 1, 2015.

He said the date is further away than the family had hoped for but the mere fact that it has been scheduled is a relief.

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Report: 21 US cities restrict sharing food with homeless people

homeless in USAIn the United States, 21 cities have restricted sharing food with homeless people through legislation or community pressure since January 2013, and about 10 other cities are in the process of doing so, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) said in a report released Monday.

“One of the most narrow-minded ideas when it comes to homelessness and food-sharing is that sharing food with people in need enables them to remain homeless,” the report said.

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Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard indicted on 23 felony corruption charges

Mike HubbardMike Hubbard, speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and a powerful leader in the state Republican Party, has been indicted by a grand jury and charged with 23 counts, including using his office for personal gain and soliciting things of value.

Late Monday afternoon, Hubbard reported to the Lee County Jail where he was booked.

If convicted, Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of two to 20 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines for each count.

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