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Celebrities urge world-famous clown to end cruel circus animal treatment in Russia

Russian rock stars and actors on Thursday urged world-renowned clown Slava Polunin to end what they called cruel treatment of animals at the top circus where he recently took over as director. Animal acts are still commonplace at Russian circuses and remain a popular attraction even though Western circuses have…

Russian President Putin and wife say their marriage is over

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, said on television on Thursday that they have separated and their marriage is over. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Steve Gutterman) [New Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila walk after an inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin…

Most Americans see same sex marriage as inevitable: survey

By Edith Honan NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nearly three-quarters of Americans, including a majority of those who personally object to extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, say legal recognition of gay marriage is “inevitable,” according to a survey by the Pew Research Center released on Thursday. The survey found that…

New York Post faces libel lawsuit over Boston ‘Bag Men’ story

By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) – Two men whom the New York Post labeled as “Bag Men” in a front-page photo shortly after April’s fatal Boston Marathon bomb attack have sued the newspaper for libel. The Post reported three days after the bombing that federal investigators were seeking the pair,…

Tropical Storm Andrea bears down on Florida’s Gulf Coast

By Jane Sutton MIAMI (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Andrea pelted Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Thursday and was forecast to drench much of the U.S. Southeast as it cuts across Georgia and up the Atlantic coast, the National Hurricane Center said. The season’s first Atlantic tropical storm was churning in…

Obama administration defends phone record collection

By Mark Hosenball and Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Thursday acknowledged that it is collecting a massive amount of telephone records from at least one carrier, reopening the debate over privacy even as it defended the practice as necessary to protect Americans against attack. The admission…

IRS official in Star Trek spoof apologizes for lavish conference

By Kim Dixon and Patrick Temple-West WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top official at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Thursday acknowledged that it was “embarrassing” how much the tax agency spent on training videos, including a Star Trek spoof, and other lavish expenses during a 2010 conference in California. Faris…

Republican Mike Rogers to introduce bill to defund, deport hackers backed by foreign governments

WASHINGTON – A day before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the United States, three U.S. lawmakers plan to propose a new law that would punish hackers backed by China, Russia or other foreign governments for cyber spying and theft. The new bill, to be introduced on Thursday, would freeze U.S.…

German court rules same sex civil unions get same tax benefits as married couples

Germany’s top court ruled Thursday that same-sex partners in civil unions are entitled to the generous tax benefits granted to married couples, in another landmark step for gay rights in Europe. The Federal Constitutional Court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said denying gays and lesbians in so-called registered partnerships…

UN food agency warns global agricultural production is expected to slow in coming decade

Growth in global agricultural production is expected to slow in the coming decade, the UN food agency and the OECD said in a joint report Thursday, warning threats to food security remain. The world’s agricultural output is projected to grow at an average 1.5 percent annually from 2013 to 2022,…

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