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Ugandan constitutional court strikes down anti-homosexuality law
05:41 AM, 08.01.2014

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signs an anti-homosexual bill into law at the state house in EntebbeUganda's constitutional court struck down on Friday an anti-homosexuality law that punishes gay sex with long jail sentences, citing procedural irregularities in the way the legislation was enacted. Under the Anti-Homosexuality Act, those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" faced punishments of up to life in prison and seven years for "aiding and abetting homosexuality". The law, which came into effect in February, drew widespread protest from western countries, some of which responded by cutting aid to Uganda. Homosexuality is a taboo issue in much of Africa and illegal in 37 countries on the continent, but the punishments laid out in Uganda are among the harshest.

Kerry challenges India's Modi over WTO stance
05:39 AM, 08.01.2014

Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet at the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi on August 1, 2014US Secretary of State John Kerry told Narendra Modi that India's stance on a key WTO trade deal sent the wrong message, as he met the country's new prime minister for the first time on Friday. Kerry has expressed optimism about expanding cooperation between the world's two largest democracies during a first visit aimed at reviving a relationship clouded by mistrust. During the meeting -- aimed at breaking the ice with a leader once shunned by Washington -- Kerry told Modi India's stance on the deal was at odds with his desire to open up the country's economy. "We note that the prime minister is very focused on his signal of open to business and creating opportunities and therefore the failure of implementing TFA (Trade Facilitation Agreement) sends a confusing signal and undermines that very message that he is seeking to send about India," a US official quoted Kerry as saying.

Scientific Games to buy rival Bally Technologies for $3.27 billion
05:36 AM, 08.01.2014

(Reuters) - Scientific Games Corp , which makes slot machines for casinos, will buy larger rival Bally Technologies Inc for about $3.27 billion. The $83.30 per-share cash offer represents a 38 percent premium to Bally's Thursday closing price of $60.17 on the New York Stock Exchange, the companies said in a joint statement. Including debt, the deal value is $5.1 billion, the companies said. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)

Kenyan president orders government to repossess contested land on volatile coast
05:35 AM, 08.01.2014

Kenya's President Kenyatta delivers his speech at the official launch of first United Nations Environment Assembly in NairobiKenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the government to repossess large areas of land in Lamu County, which has been hit by recent attacks, saying land grabbing was helping fuel instability on the north coast. Kenyatta, speaking late on Thursday, said a government audit showed the land, covering an area the size of the island of Mauritius, had been acquired unlawfully by companies in 2011-2012. Lamu County borders war-torn Somalia and about 100 people have been killed in raids in the area since mid-June as attacks became more frequent.

Usher 'overwhelmed' by supporters of foundation
05:34 AM, 08.01.2014

R&B singer Usher attends the 15th anniversary celebration of his New Look Foundation, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Atlanta. Usher felt overwhelmed by the amount of supporters at his New Look Foundation's 15th year anniversary luncheon. Legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, director Kenny Leon and producer Jermaine Dupri were among the 450-plus attendees at foundation's President's Circle Awards luncheon in downtown Atlanta on Thursday. The nonprofit organization founded by the Grammy-winning singer also celebrated raising $1 million. "This is a passion fuel for me," Usher said Thursday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)ATLANTA (AP) — Rhythm and blues singer Usher said he was overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of supporters at his New Look Foundation's 15th anniversary luncheon.

Ukraine fighting rages as experts search MH17 crash site
05:34 AM, 08.01.2014

Dutch and Australian experts finally arrived at the site of downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in east Ukraine on Friday, after clashes between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels killed 14 combattants. The 70 police investigators "will conduct search operations in several places at the crash site," a Dutch government statement said. Although the Dutch and Australian officers made it there Friday, Ukraine's months-long conflict still raged around the zone. Ukraine's army has pledged not to fight in the immediate vicinity of the insurgent-held site.

Experts start work at Ukraine crash site despite new fighting
05:34 AM, 08.01.2014

Members of a group of international experts walk past wreckage at the site where the downed Malaysia airlines flight MH17 crashed in Donetsk regionBy Natalia Zinets and Gabriela Baczynska KIEV (Reuters) - International experts started recovery work at the wreckage site of a downed Malaysian airliner in east Ukraine on Friday despite clashes nearby between government forces and pro-Russian rebels. In the latest clashes, the rebels killed at least 10 Ukrainian paratroopers in an ambush after midnight near Shakhtarsk, one of the closest towns to the wreckage site, the Ukrainian military said. The rebels said they had pushed back government forces around Shakhtarsk, where fighting has raged for several days. The recovery mission included 70 experts from Australia and the Netherlands, whose countries suffered a big loss of life in the shoot-down, as well as representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Police: Costumed girl injured at Comic-Con fell
05:32 AM, 08.01.2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Police say a costumed teenager who was found bloody and unconscious during Comic-Con was likely the victim of a fall, and the injuries weren't caused by an assault.

Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs Russia
05:31 AM, 08.01.2014

In this photo made available by Greenpeace International on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs from Murmansk, Russia after it was held in the port by Russian authorities for eleven months. (AP Photo/ Vladimir Baryshev, Greenpeace International)MOSCOW (AP) — The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departed for the Netherlands on Friday nearly a year after Russian authorities seized it during a protest against an oil platform, the Amsterdam-based environmental group said.

Solid US job gains expected for 6th straight month
05:30 AM, 08.01.2014

In this June 23, 2014 photo, job seekers wait in line to meet with recruiters during a job fair in Philadelphia. The government issues the July jobs report on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)WASHINGTON (AP) — With a host of reports this week pointing to a healthier U.S. economy, analysts expect Friday's monthly jobs report to send a similar message.

At White House gala, Obama honors Special Olympics
05:28 AM, 08.01.2014

Singer Katy Perry performs her song "Roar" at an event for the Special Olympics hosted by President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)WASHINGTON (AP) — Singers Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder joined other A-list celebrities, world-famous athletes and American legends who donned their best suits and gowns Thursday as President Barack Obama hosted a White House celebration honoring the Special Olympics.

Contract talks in Met Opera labor dispute extended
05:27 AM, 08.01.2014

NEW YORK (AP) — It's a drama worthy of the Metropolitan Opera: Frantic, last-minute labor negotiations aimed at averting a lockout that threatens to stop both pay and benefits for thousands of singers, musicians, stagehands and other workers.

Blast flattens police building eastern Libyan city
05:25 AM, 08.01.2014

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A strong explosion ripped through the main police building in Benghazi early Friday, nearly flattening it, days after Islamic militias overran army barracks and claimed control of the eastern Libyan city.

Lawsuit over Slipknot bassist's death dismissed
05:25 AM, 08.01.2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge says the widow of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray waited too long to file a lawsuit against Gray's former doctor.

Bolt, Daley in spotlight, more gold for South Africa
05:24 AM, 08.01.2014

Jamaica's Usain Bolt poses for pictures at a Commonwealth Games press conference in Glasgow on July 26, 2014Sprint legend Usain Bolt in the 4x100m relay and British teenage diving star Tom Daley make their eagerly anticipated Commonwealth Games entrances as South Africa enjoyed more lawn bowls success on Friday. Bolt, who raced neither the 100 nor 200m, won by Jamaican teammates Kemar Bailey-Cole and Rasheed Dwyer respectively, is due to take part in heats for the relay, with the final slated for Saturday. The first of Friday's 20 golds went to Colleen Piketh and Traxy-Lee Botha, the South Africans edging England's Natalie Melmore and Jamie-Lea Winch in a nailbiting women's pairs final. Northern Ireland beat Jersey for the bronze medal.

Iraq's top Shiite cleric appeals to politicians
05:21 AM, 08.01.2014

An Iraqi man stands at the ssite of a car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. The United Nations says more than 1,700 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Iraq in July, marking a dramatic decline from the previous month, when some 2,400 people were killed as Sunni militants swept across large parts of the country, capturing the second largest city Mosul.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric is appealing to politicians not to be "an obstacle" in the process of transition as Iraq nears a deadline to select its next prime minister.

35 killed, soldier missing as Gaza truce unravels
05:19 AM, 08.01.2014

A Palestinian inspects a destroyed house in the heavily bombed Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah, close to the Israeli border, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. A three-day Gaza cease-fire that began Friday quickly unraveled, with Israel and Hamas accusing each other of violating the truce as several Palestinians were killed in a heavy exchange of fire in the southern town of Rafah. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Gaza cease-fire quickly unraveled Friday as violence erupted in and around the southern town of Rafah, with 35 Palestinians killed by Israeli shelling and the military saying one of its soldiers may have been abducted.

Chrysler US sales climb 20 percent in July
05:18 AM, 08.01.2014

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 20 percent in July from a year ago, its best performance for the month in nine years.

South African group to sue over giraffe bridge collision death
05:16 AM, 08.01.2014

A South African animal rights group is planning to sue the people responsible for the death of a giraffe that smashed its head on a bridge as it was transported in a trailer on one of Africa's busiest motorways. Eyewitnesses reported seeing two giraffes in an open air trailer being driven along Johannesburg's N1 motorway on Thursday before one hit its head on the bridge. Who thought this one through?" South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) said they would be seeking to prosecute those responsible. The incident has caused outrage in South Africa and has been tragically compared to a scene in Hollywood film 'Hangover 3' in which bungling character Alan Garner buys a giraffe before accidentally decapitating it on a highway bridge.

South Africa: Giraffe's head hits highway overpass
05:13 AM, 08.01.2014

Summer Brings First Rare Giraffe Birth of the Year at Lion Country Lion Country Safari, a leader in Giraffe breeding programs in North America with over 60 Giraffe births, just welcomed its first giraffe calf of 2014. The baby, named Nafari, which means “first-born” in Swahili, was born June 24th. He was born weighing 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) and measured 70 inches (1.78 m) tall. Learn more at Zooborns.JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Those responsible for the death of a giraffe whose head struck a South African highway overpass while it was being transported in a truck will likely be prosecuted under animal protection laws, an official said Friday.

For some companies, influx of migrant children into U.S. means business
05:12 AM, 08.01.2014

An exterior photo shows a U.S. government detention facility in rural Karnes County, TexasBy Mica Rosenberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - For a handful of U.S. companies that have exclusive or longstanding contracts with federal agencies dealing with illegal immigrants, the recent wave of children crossing the southern border with Mexico is a business opportunity. Private prison companies Geo Group and competitor Corrections Corporation of America, for example, stand to gain if Congress approves any emergency funding for family detention facilities. In the past six years, Geo Group was awarded nearly $880 million from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to government contracting data compiled by In July, ICE, the agency responsible for immigration detention, modified its contract with Geo Group to convert the company's adult detention center in Karnes County, Texas to house families.

Pope slips out of Vatican, joins Jesuits for lunch
05:01 AM, 08.01.2014

ROME (AP) — Maybe Pope Francis is getting tired of the food in the Vatican hotel.

Taiwan gas pipeline blasts kill 25, injure 267
04:59 AM, 08.01.2014

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Heavy machinery pulled vehicles from huge trenches gouged by explosions along an underground pipeline in Taiwan's second-largest city that killed at least 25 people and injured 267.

Israeli military says Gaza ceasefire is over
04:57 AM, 08.01.2014

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military said on Friday that a Gaza ceasefire that went into effect earlier on Friday is now over and military operations were in progress on the ground. Asked during a media conference call if the ceasefire was over, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said: "Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground." His comments followed reports that 40 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli shelling and Israel had accused Gaza militants of violating the U.S.- and U.N.-brokered truce by firing rockets and mortars. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

Uganda court invalidates anti-gay law
04:57 AM, 08.01.2014

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying it was illegally passed and is therefore unconstitutional.

AP PHOTOS: City streets destroyed in Taiwan blasts
04:56 AM, 08.01.2014

A destroyed fire truck is seen overturned in the rubble after massive gas explosions in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. A series of underground explosions about midnight Thursday and early Friday ripped through Taiwan's second-largest city, killing scores of people, Taiwan's National Fire Agency said Friday. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)City streets destroyed, transformed into trenches strewn with dirt, ripped pieces of pipe and jagged blocks of concrete. Broken fire trucks turned upside down, twisted soot-covered cars and motorcycles, ripped advertising signs.

Congressman Cantor to resign seat early: Richmond Times-Dispatch
04:56 AM, 08.01.2014

Outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor arrives for House Republican leadership elections in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington(Reuters) - Congressman Eric Cantor said he will resign his seat effective Aug. 18, months earlier than expected following a shock primary election defeat, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Friday. Cantor, who on Thursday stepped down from his leadership position in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, said he had asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to call a special election to coincide with November's general election, the newspaper reported.

'B' sample confirms teen weightlifter's doping
04:52 AM, 08.01.2014

FILE - This is a Friday, July, 25, 2014 file photo of Chika Amalaha of Nigeria, as she makes good lift during the women's 53 kg weightlifting competition at the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014, in Glasgow, Scotland. Amalaha won the gold medal in the event. The Nigerian weightlifting gold medalist Chika Amalaha has failed a doping test at the Commonwealth Games and has been provisionally suspended from the games. Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said Tuesday July 29, 2014 that Amalaha tested positive for diuretics and masking agents after being tested on July 25. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — A 16-year-old Nigerian weightlifter faces being stripped of her Commonwealth Games gold medal after her backup doping sample confirmed a previous finding for banned substances.

Israeli military says soldier apparently captured in Gaza Strip
04:50 AM, 08.01.2014

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli soldier was apparently captured by Palestinian militants during a clash in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, an Israeli military spokesman said. "(Israeli) forces operating to decommission an (infiltration) tunnel were attacked. Initial indications are that a soldier has been abducted by terrorists during the operation," the spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said in a conference call with journalists. (Reporting by Jeffrey Heller)

Gaza truce shatters as deadly clashes erupt
04:49 AM, 08.01.2014

An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155 mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014A three-day Gaza truce collapsed only hours after it began Friday as Israel pounded Palestinian militants in apparent response to renewed rocket fire, jeopardising international efforts for a durable ceasefire. The skies over Gaza initially fell silent after the humanitarian truce announced overnight by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the longest of several agreed since the conflict broke out on July 8. AFP correspondents said there appeared to be fierce fighting ongoing in the vicinity of Rafah, and medics had trouble retrieving the dead and wounded.

Israeli army says soldier "feared" captured by Gaza militants
04:47 AM, 08.01.2014

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli army says soldier "feared" captured by Gaza militants.

Uganda constitutional court annuls new anti-gay law
04:47 AM, 08.01.2014

Ugandan human rights and gay rights activists attend a hearing at the constitutional court in Kampala on July 30, 2014, seeking to overturn tough anti-gay lawsUganda's constitutional court on Friday overturned tough new anti-gay laws that had been branded draconian by rights groups, saying they had been wrongly passed by parliament. "Justice prevailed, we won," said lawyer Nicholas Opiyo, who led the challenge in the constitutional court. The law's supporters said they would appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court. "The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court -- it's now dead as a door nail," said Andrew Mwenda, one of 10 petitioners.

Islamic State imposes media controls in Syrian province
04:46 AM, 08.01.2014

A fighter of the ISIL holds a flag and a weapon on a street in MosulIslamic State, the al Qaeda splinter group which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, has told activists in Syria's Deir al-Zor province they must swear allegiance to it and submit to censorship, a monitoring group said on Friday. International media organizations have little presence in Syria and rely on activists and other sources to provide information on what is happening in the country. Islamic State also told the activists they must recognize the caliphate, based on their strict interpretation of Islam, that it has declared in the parts of Iraq and Syria it controls.

Western sanctions do not help to de-escalate Ukraine crisis: Russian official
04:39 AM, 08.01.2014

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Western sanctions against Russia are not helping to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, state-run Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russia's envoy to the European Union as saying on Friday. "These sanctions do not help (reaching) the main goal - to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and resolve the Ukrainian interior political crisis," he said. The West imposed new sanctions on Russia earlier this week, for the first time targeting sectors of the economy. (Reporting By Alexei Anishchuk, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729
04:35 AM, 08.01.2014

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in KailahunBy Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone has declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims, joining neighbouring Liberia in imposing controls as the death toll from the outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The World Health Organisation said it would launch a $100 million response plan on Friday during a meeting with the affected nations in Guinea. The WHO on Thursday reported 57 new deaths in the four days to July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, raising the death toll to 729. It said the number of Ebola cases had topped 1,300.

Ugandan court invalidates law that strengthened criminal penalties against homosexuals
04:34 AM, 08.01.2014

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan court invalidates law that strengthened criminal penalties against homosexuals.

African leaders to launch $100m Ebola emergency battle plan
04:26 AM, 08.01.2014

A nurse puts up a poster about Ebola on a wall of a public health centre on July 31, 2014 in Monrovia, LiberiaThe head of the World Health Organization and presidents of the west African countries suffering the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak were due to meet in Guinea on Friday to launch a $100 million emergency response plan. The leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia will gather in Conakry to organise the deployment of "several hundred" medical personnel, the WHO said, to help overstretched workers and facilities struggling with an epidemic which has claimed nearly 730 lives. The plan will also bolster efforts to prevent and detect suspected cases, urge better border surveillance, and reinforce WHO's sub-regional outbreak coordination centre in Guinea. The meeting comes after US, German and French health authorities issued warnings against travel to the three African countries to stop the disease spreading to their shores.

Imam's killing in China may be aimed at making Muslim Uighurs choose sides
04:25 AM, 08.01.2014

By Michael Martina BEIJING (Reuters) - The murder of a state-backed imam in China's Xinjiang region underscores an escalation in 18 months of violence and could be part of a bid by extremists to persuade moderate Muslim Uighurs to turn against Beijing's controlled current of Islam. The targeting of Uighur officials or religious leaders has been an undercurrent of unrest for some 20 years in Xinjiang, where members of the Uighur minority are unhappy at official restrictions on their culture and religion. Jume Tahir, the imam at China's largest mosque, Id Kah, in the Silk Road city of Kashgar, was killed on Wednesday by three suspected Islamist militants armed with knives. "Part of the motivation is not simply to remove and put pressure on the state-backed officials, but also to make an impact on those who attend these mosques, the stability minded Uighurs," said Michael Clarke of Australia's Griffith University.

Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise released by Russia
04:25 AM, 08.01.2014

In this photo made available by Greenpeace International on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs from Murmansk, Russia after it was held in the port by Russian authorities for eleven months. (AP Photo/ Vladimir Baryshev, Greenpeace International)MOSCOW (AP) — Greenpeace International says a ship held by Russian authorities for nearly a year has been released and is on its way back to the Netherlands.

Large expert team reaches Ukraine crash site
04:21 AM, 08.01.2014

An Ukrainian government army military vehicle travels across a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — A team of several dozen international investigators descended Friday on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine to begin combing an area now designated as a crime scene. Facebook Page

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