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June 27, 2014 / 9:50 PM / in 3 years




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EU signs trade pact with Ukraine, threatens sanctions on Russia

BRUSSELS - The European Union signed an historic free-trade pact with Ukraine on Friday and warned it could impose more sanctions on Moscow unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the east of the country by Monday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko came to Brussels to sign a far-reaching trade and political cooperation agreement with the EU that has been at the heart of months of deadly violence and upheaval in his country, drawing an immediate threat of “grave consequences” from Russia. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/EU (UPDATE 4, TV, PIX), 9:27 words, moved at 12:06 p.m.)

+See also:

Separatists say ready to extend ceasefire in eastern Ukraine

(UKRAINE-CRISIS/TALKS (UPDATE 1, PIX), 590 words, moved at 1:39 p.m.), Sharp rise in people fleeing eastern Ukraine (UKRAINE-CRISIS/DISPLACED (UPDATE 1), 300 words, moved

Obama blasts House Republicans over lawsuit threat

MINNEAPOLIS, June 27 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday blasted House Republicans who have threatened to sue him for issuing executive orders to implement policies that would have a hard time passing in the Republican-controlled chamber of Congress. “They don’t do anything except block me and call me names,” Obama said in an economic speech that concluded a two-day visit to Minnesota. (USA-CONGRESS/LAWSUIT-OBAMA (UPDATE 2), 511 words, moved at 4:39 p.m.)

Iraq’s top Shi‘ite cleric calls for prime minister to be chosen by Tuesday

The most influential Shi‘ite cleric in Iraq called on the country’s leaders on Friday to choose a prime minister within the next four days, a dramatic political intervention that could hasten the end of Nuri al-Maliki’s eight year rule. (IRAQ-SECURITY (WRAPUP 4, PIX), 1,276 words, moved at 4:12 p.m.)

EU moves to assuage Cameron after outvoting him on Juncker BRUSSELS - European Union leaders nominated Jean-Claude Juncker for their bloc’s most powerful job on Friday over the fierce objections of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the decision would make it harder for him to keep Britain in Europe. (EU-SUMMIT (UPDATE 7), 1,139 words, moved at 1:07 p.m.)

+See also: Iraq’s top Shi‘ite cleric calls for top political jobs to be filled by Tuesday (IRAQ-SECURITY/CLERIC (UPDATE 1), 500 words, moved, Mass prisoner deaths in Iraq point to police executions (IRAQ-SECURITY/EXECUTIONS, 300 words, moved)

Mississippi Tea Party leader dead in apparent suicide

A prominent lawyer and leader of the Mississippi Tea Party, who was arrested in connection with photos posted online of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife, died on Friday of an apparent suicide, the man’s attorney said. Mark Mayfield, 58, was a founding member of the state’s Tea Party and had served as its vice chairman, the organization said. (USA-MISSISSIPPI/TEAPARTY (UPDATE 3), 385 words, moved at 5:14 p.m.)

Vatican defrocks Polish archbishop for sexual abuse ROME - A Roman Catholic Church tribunal ordered a Polish archbishop accused of child sex abuse in the Dominican Republic to be defrocked, pending possible further criminal proceedings, the Vatican said on Friday. (VATICAN-ABUSE/ (UPDATE 2), 251 words, moved at 11:03 a.m.)

+See also: Pope cancels Rome hospital visit at last minute (POPE-CANCELLATION (UPDATE 2), 313 words, moved at 12:21 p.m.)

U.S. Middle East peace envoy Indyk resigns after talks fail

WASHINGTON - U.S. Middle East peace envoy Martin Indyk has resigned following the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks, but the State Department said on Friday he would remain involved in the peace effort. (PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL/INDYK, (UPDATE 1), 262 words, moved at 11:35 a.m.)


U.S. to no longer produce anti-personnel land mines

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Friday it would no longer produce or purchase landmines that target people, paving the way for Washington to eventually join an international treaty banning the weapons. (USA-LANDMINES/OBAMA (UPDATE 2), 530 words, moved)

All is not lost for Ex-Im bank amid Republican jockeying

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Export-Import Bank, derided by conservative critics as an expensive boondoggle, may win a reprieve from what looked like almost certain death in Congress if enough Republicans can be persuaded to let it live on, but with its wings clipped. Some Republicans who were once opposed to extending Ex-Im’s mandate beyond the end of September are now reconsidering, worried that killing it off could leave U.S. exporters at a disadvantage against foreign companies. (USA-EXIM/, 854 words, moved)


Montana judge facing censure tied to rape case calls penalty unprecedented

A Montana judge facing suspension by the state’s top court for implying a 14-year-old girl was partly to blame for her rape by a teacher and imposing an unlawfully lenient sentence in the case contends his punishment was unprecedented and suggests it be retracted. (USA MONTANA/RAPE, 350 words, moved)

Bail set at $1 mln for Wisconsin man for hiding bodies in suitcases

ELKHORN, Wisc. - A Wisconsin judge set bail at $1 million on Friday for a security guard suspected of killing two women and hiding their corpses in two suitcases. (USA-CRIME/WISCONSIN (UPDATE 1, 130 words, moved)

Hawaii sentences ex-soldier to life for killing daughter -report

A former U.S. Army soldier convicted of killing his daughter was spared the death penalty on Friday, sentenced to life in prison by a Honolulu jury in the first capital case to go to a jury in Hawaii since it became a state in 1959, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported. (USA-DEATHPENALTY/HAWAII, 400 words, moving shortly)

Suicide nets approved for San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge

SAN FRANCISCO - It could soon be a lot harder for people bent on suicide to leap from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, as officials approved a funding plan on Friday to install mesh barriers beneath the historic span to catch jumpers before they hit the water. (USA-CALIFORNIA/SUICIDE, 300 words, moved)

Nebraska releases prisoners by mistake, tries to get some back

OMAHA - Nebraska authorities mistakenly released more than 300 criminals from prison early and are trying to track the two dozen they want to put back in jail, state officials said on Friday. (USA-NEBRASKA/PRISON-RELEASE, 270 words, moved)

U.S. swim star Van Dyken back in pool to battle paralysis

WASHINGTON - Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken said she finally felt “normal” when she took to the pool recently as part of her rehabilitation program following an all-terrain vehicle accident that left her partially paralyzed. (SWIMMING VANDYKEN/, 330 words, moved)

Wrong woman crowded Miss Florida, pageant announces

Due to a vote tabulation error, the wrong woman was crowded Miss Florida last week, the pageant announced on Friday. The winner should have been the contest named first runner-up, Victoria Cowen, 21. A judge made a last-minute change that was missed by an auditor counting the votes, resulting in the crowning of Elizabeth Fechtel. Last night, the pageant director visited Fechtel’s home to deliver the news. (USA-FLORIDA/PAGEANT 300 words, moving shortly)

Man sentenced to die for killing deputy

ORLANDO - A 24-year-old man who fatally shot Brevard Deputy Barbara Pill in 2012 sentenced to death by a judge, heeding a 10-2 recommendation by his jury. We covered the crime. Pill, a 30-year-law enforcement veteran, stopping the man and his girlfriend suspected of stealing furniture from a motel. (USA/FLORIDA-DEPUTY, 300 words, moving shortly)

Wrongly convicted men speak of injustice after ‘Central Park Jogger’ deal

NEW YORK - A group of men wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989 said they continued to fight feelings of injustice on Friday, a day after the city signed a $40 million settlement to end their civil rights lawsuit. (USA-CRIME/JOGGER, 400 words, moved)

Kentucky head-on collision kills six, injures four

Six people were killed and four injured in a fiery crash after a station wagon crossed the center line and slammed into a minivan near Lexington, Kentucky, police said on Friday. (USA-CRASH/KENTUCKY, 80 words, moved)

New Jersey may be first state to ban smoking on beaches, in parks

NEW YORK - New Jersey could become the first state in the nation to ban cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products in all public parks and beaches if Governor Chris Christie signs into law a sweeping anti-smoking bill approved by lawmakers. (USA-NEW JERSEY/SMOKING (PIX), 488 words, moved)

Mass. abortion clinics brace for fresh protests, lawmakers seek fix

BOSTON - Massachusetts is beefing up security around abortion clinics and scrambling for a legal fix after the U.S. Supreme Court voided the state’s buffer zone law that kept protesters 35 feet away, saying it violated freedom of speech. (USA-COURT/ABORTION (PIX,UPDATE 1), 600 words, moved)

Texas man pleads guilty to trying to aid foreign terrorists

AUSTIN - A Texas man pleaded guilty on Friday of attempting to provide support and resources to a Middle Eastern foreign terrorist organization as part of a federal undercover operation, U.S. prosecutors said. USA-CRIME/TEXAS-TERRORISM (UPDATE 1), 225 words, moved)

Defeated Republican challenges Mississippi Senate primary votes

June 27 - The Tea Party-backed candidate refusing to concede defeat to Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi’s primary runoff said his campaign has found more than 1,000 instances of ballots cast by people who were ineligible to vote. (USA-ELECTION/MISSISSIPPI, 316 words, moved)

Detroit police probe case of boy found in basement, stepmom arrested

June 27 - Detroit police said Friday they were still trying to determine if there was any wrongdoing in the case of a 12-year-old boy who was missing for 11 days before being found alive and well in his family’s basement. (USA-MICHIGAN/BOY, 300 words, moved)

Sexy perfume ad hits raw nerve for Sufis who says it misuses sacred symbol

SAN FRANCISCO - A sexy ad for perfume created by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli has hit a raw nerve for Sufis in California who complain the designer has inappropriately used a symbol sacred to practitioners of mystical Islam.(USA-SUFIS/PERFUME, 600 words, moving early on Saturday)


Somali expats fear bank curbs on sending money home

NEW YORK - Each month, 42-year-old Abdirizak Alibos shows up at a money transfer business in the heart of Minneapolis to send $500 to his three children in war-torn Somalia. “I send them money that they can pay for ... groceries, school fees, that they can buy health insurance, medication,” said Alibos, who escaped to the United States seven years ago and now has a business driving people to medical appointments. (BANKS-REMITTANCES/SOMALIA (FEATURE, PIX), 972 words, moved)

Dogs, debris and Satan make their mark at Oklahoma capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY - As part of her grand plan to visit all 50 U.S. state capitols before her 70th birthday, Deidra Horan drove to Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. She toured the capitol, but that’s not her most vivid memory of the trip. Horan, 64, was attacked by four large stray dogs shortly after she left the building and was badly bitten. It was the latest in a series of headaches for statehouse officials that have included tumbling plaster inside the building and a battle over a monument to Satan outside the 97-year-old neoclassical structure. (USA-OKLAHOMA/CAPITOL (FEATURE), 460 words, moved)

Eager but doomed: the British “Tommies” who hoped to be home by Christmas

MEAUX, France - They arrived in France young, eager and hopeful, confident that the new war in Europe would be over by the time the snow began to fall back home in England. An exhibition opening near Paris on Saturday commemorates the British “Tommies” who marched to battle against Germany with no inkling the Great War would drag on for four relentless years. Some 27,000 of them were to die before year’s end, when the stalemate of trench warfare set in. (WWI-ANNIVERSARY/BRITAIN (PIX), 708 words, moved)


Nose woes: air pollutants thwart flower-seeking bugs

WASHINGTON - You think your nose likes flowers? Well, certainly not as much as the tobacco hornworn moth. In fact, its life depends on it. These moths, whose olfactory abilities are as good as a bloodhound’s and vastly better than a human‘s, can fly up to 80 miles (130 km) a night searching for their favorite flowers such as the Sacred Datura. (512 words, SCIENCE-MOTHS/ (PIX), moved)

Everglades restoration project has had modest impact, report shows

WASHINGTON - A $13.5 billion project to restore the Florida Everglades has had limited impact even as the embattled ecosystem faces threats from climate change and invasive species, a progress report said on Friday. (USA-EVERGLADES, 403 words, moved)

Scientists retrace events leading to anthrax breach

CHICAGO - Scientists at the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are conducting tests to see whether the procedure they followed to kill anthrax, although flawed by their own standards, may nevertheless have killed the potentially deadly pathogen before it was sent to less-secure laboratories, where employees work without adequate protective gear. If they are right, it may mean dozens of scientists and staff, who were given a vaccine and powerful antibiotics to prevent anthrax infection, may never actually have been in danger of anthrax disease, a potentially deadly illness that was at the center of 2001 bioterror attacks. (USA-ANTHRAX/TESTS (UPDATE 1), 640 words, moved)

Russia calls off debut launch of first new space rocket design since Soviet era

MOSCOW - Russia was forced to abandon Friday’s debut launch of its first new space rocket since the Soviet era when the Angara booster cut out during a final countdown watched by President Vladimir Putin via video link from the Kremlin. (RUSSIA-SPACE/ (UPDATE 1, PIX), 300 words, moved)

In virus hunt, Saudi Arabia suspects African camel imports

LONDON - Saudi Arabia suspects that the MERS virus that has killed hundreds of people there may have arrived in camels from the Horn of Africa and it could ban such imports until it knows more, the kingdom’s chief scientist told Reuters. (HEALTH-MERS/SAUDI-SOMALIA (PIX), 400 words, moved)

West African nations should prepare for Ebola - WHO

GENEVA - West African nations neighboring those hit by the Ebola epidemic - Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea Bissau - should prepare for the possible arrival of travelers carrying the deadly virus, the World Health Organization said on Friday. (HEALTH-E BOLA/WHO (UPDATE 2), 563 words, moved)


Blackout hits much of Venezuela, authorities scrambles to resolve

CARACAS - A blackout cut electricity to much of Venezuela on Friday, the government said, causing traffic chaos in the capital Caracas as authorities scrambled to identify and repair the failure in the network which twice interrupted the president’s televised speech. (VENEZUELA-BLACKOUT/ (UPDATE 2), 259 words, moved)

Nigeria police bust suspected kidnapping ring, arresting 37

ONITSHA, Nigeria, June 27 (Reuters) - Nigerian police have arrested 37 people in southern Nigeria’s Abia state on suspicion of being part of a major kidnapping ring, a spokesman said on Friday. Nigeria is one of the world’s highest rates of kidnapping, an enterprise that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to the sophisticated criminal gangs that carry it out. (NIGERIA-KIDNAPPERS/, 133 words, moved)

Thousands march across Kabul to protest election fraud

KABUL - Thousands of angry protesters marched on the Afghan president’s palace on Friday in support of candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s allegations that mass fraud had been committed during the presidential election by organizers and state officials. (AFGHANISTAN-ELECTION/PROTESTS (UPDATE 2, PIX), 500 words, moved)

Serbs unveil statue to ‘hero’ who set Europe marching to war

SARAJEVO - Serbs in Bosnia unveiled a statue on Friday of the man who shot dead the heir to the Habsburg throne a century ago, thumbing their nose at the country’s official commemoration of the act that triggered World War One. (WW1-ANNIVERSARY/BOSNIA, 530 words, moved)

Cuban boat people risk seas after being ordered to leave Cayman

Grand Cayman - A group of Cuban migrants who were anchored in an open wooden boat off the Cayman Islands for nearly two weeks continued their risky sea voyage on Friday after being told by the government to leave. (CAYMAN-CUBA/BOAT, 300 words, moving shortly)

North Korea on agenda as Chinese president visits South

SEOUL - Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit South Korea next week, the two countries announced on Friday, with North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons featuring prominently on the agenda in summit talks. (SOUTHKOREA-CHINA/, 400 words, moved) See also: North Korea’s economy creeps ahead in black thanks to China trade (NORTHKOREA-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 1), 400 words, moved)

Laos agrees to studies for second Mekong dam

BANGKOK - A Laotian official said on Friday his government would allow environmental assessments before proceeding with construction of a dam on the Mekong River that activists and neighbouring states say could hurt the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers. (LAOS-DAM/, 300 words, moved)


Miss Delaware loses crown for being a few months too old

A beauty contest winner, stripped of her crown as Miss Delaware due to age, said on Friday she had done nothing wrong and wants to be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant even tough she will turn 25 this year. Amanda Longacre said she learned on Tuesday that she was disqualified because the Miss Delaware pageant determined she violated the age requirement. On NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, a tearful Longacre said she was consulting a lawyer. (USA-PAGEANT/DELAWARE (UPDATE 1), 387 words, moved)

Demi Lovato Launches Pride-Themed ‘Really Don’t Care’ Video on First Anniversary of DOMA Strikedown

LOS ANGELES - Earlier this month Demi Lovato took to the streets of West Hollywood to film her new music video for “Really Don’t Care” among the revelers of L.A. Pride, for which she also acted as the grand marshal. It’s probably not a coincidence it has been released on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court striking down anti-gay marriage laws DOMA and California’s own Proposition 8. (DEMILOVATO/GAYPRIDE, 158 words, moved)

‘The Leftovers’ Review: Damon Lindelof Explores the Great Spiritual Unknown in Moody HBO Series

LOS ANGELES - When two percent of world’s population disappears in an instant, who, exactly, are the chosen ones? The departed, or those left behind? “The Leftovers,” HBO’s elegiac new series from “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof and novelist Tom Perrotta, grapples with that conundrum, and what it means to survive an inexplicable event, to inconclusive affect.(THELEFTOVERS/REVIEW, 518 words, moved)

Actor Shia LaBeouf charged with disorderly conduct, harassment

NEW YORK - Actor Shia LaBeouf, who starred in the “Transformer” movies and with Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was arraigned on Friday on charges of disorderly conduct and harassment at a Broadway theater. LaBeouf, 28, was arrested on Thursday evening after disturbing a performance in New York of the musical “Cabaret.” (PEOPLE-LABEOUF/ (UPDATE 1, PIX, TV), 380 words, moved)

Adidas and Nike battle for social media World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO/BERLIN - Adidas might be attracting bad online buzz for its sponsorship of biting Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez but in the tussle to win the most World Cup social media play, the German firm says it is winning plenty of positive attention too. (SOCCER-WORLD/BRANDS (PIX, GRAPHICS), 600 words, moved)

Greener days for Wimbledon groundsman after “Wimblegeddon”

LONDON - Wimbledon’s head grounds man Neil Stubley is relaxed and calm as he watches the cream of international tennis battle it out on his turf - a far cry from a year ago when a spate of injuries took a big toll on players. The mishaps, which led seven players to pull out injured, has gone down in tennis circles as ”Wimblegeddon. Maria Sharapova, who slipped three times in one day, complained that conditions on the court were dangerous. (TENNIS-WIMBLEDON/GROUNDSMAN (PIX), 500 words, moved)

In ‘Begin Again,’ Keira Knightley tunefully leaves comfort zone

NEW YORK - British actress Keira Knightley, known for playing tragic heroines in period dramas, strayed into new territory with her first major singing role in “Begin Again,” a feel-good film about the music industry and starting over. (FILM-BEGINAGAIN/, 482 words, moved)


Canada court rules against Wal-Mart in Quebec store closure

OTTAWA - Wal-Mart Stores Inc violated Quebec’s labor code when it closed a store in the largely French-speaking province that had become one of the first in the country to successfully unionize, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday. (WALMART-CANADA/COURT (UPDATE 3), 605 words, moved)

U.S. crude that goes through distillation can be exported - sources

All U.S. crude that is processed by a distillation tower, not only light oil known as condensate, is exempt from the 40-year crude export ban, U.S. government and industry sources said on Friday. The Department of Commerce determined this week that two companies that produce condensate, a light oil, can export the petroleum if it is processed by a distillation tower. (USA-CRUDE/EXPORTS (EXCLUSIVE, UPDATE 1), 393 words, moved)

German parliament cuts ties with Verizon in wake of spying row

BERLIN - Germany’s lower house of parliament has joined the government in cutting ties with U.S. telecoms firm Verizon Communications Inc, in reaction to a scandal last year over U.S. government spying and allegations firms were handing over data. According to information disclosed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Washington conducted mass surveillance in Germany and even eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. (GERMANY-SECURITY/VERIZON, 267 words, moved)

U.S. judge says bank should return Argentine bond payment

NEW YORK - A U.S. judge on Friday called Argentina’s decision to make a sovereign debt payment in defiance of a court order an “explosive action” and told Bank of New York Mellon to return the money to the government. (ARGENTINA-DEBT/GRIESA (UPDATE 1), 450 words, moved)

Caesars Entertainment to shut Showboat Atlantic City casino

Caesars Entertainment decision to close its Showboat casino makes it the second gambling house shuttered in what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had called a crucial year for the future of gambling in Atlantic City. Debt-strapped casino operator Caesars said it would shut the Showboat in August because of falling revenue and high property tax in Atlantic City. It will be the second to close this year, after the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closed its doors in January. (CAESARS-SHUTDOWN/ (UPDATE 2), 250 words, moved)

U.S. consumer sentiment rises in final June reading

NEW YORK - U.S. consumer sentiment rose in June as consumers remained optimistic the sluggish first quarter was due to difficult winter conditions, a survey released on Friday showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final June reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 82.5, up from 81.9 the month before. It was above the median forecast of 82.0 among economists polled by Reuters and above the preliminary reading of 81.2. (USA-ECONOMY/SENTIMENT, 180 words, moved)

Air bag accident, lawsuit led to GM Cruze recall

DETROIT/NEW YORK - An accident that left a Georgia woman blind in one eye and a subsequent lawsuit led to General Motors Co’s recall of about 33,000 Chevrolet Cruze sedans in North America for potentially defective air bags made by Takata Corp. (TAKATA-GM/LAWSUIT, 500 words, moved)


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