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Cuba will allow athletes to keep most of their winnings

Athletes in Cuba for the first time will be allowed to keep most of their overseas prize money, Havana said Friday, in a major policy shift intended to encourage would-be defectors to stay. The government announced in the daily Granma newspaper that Cuban athletes — who in the past were…

U.S.-Iran tension subsides not with a bang but with a tweet

The surprise first phone contact Friday between presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani was not only a dramatic moment in US-Iranian ties, but also in the field of digital diplomacy. Moments before the US leader announced from the White House podium that he had a chat with his opposite number,…

Salvation Army signs on for South African sex expo

It’s an adult-only fair that promises to cater for every fantasy, but South Africa’s annual “sexpo” drew an unusual exhibitor on Friday: the Salvation Army. Tucked between sex-toy stands and skimpily dressed hostesses, the Christian group famed for its charity work said it was there on a mission to raise…

Chinese activist goes missing ahead of U.N. human rights review

Ahead of UN human rights review, China activist goes missing (via The Christian Science Monitor) When the United Nations scrutinizes China’s human rights record next month, Cao Shunli’s voice will not be heard. Ms. Cao, who has spent years trying to persuade Beijing to allow ordinary citizens to help draft…

Separatists chant ‘Death to Belgium’ at country’s new royal couple

Belgium’s newly-crowned royals, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, faced a crowd of separatist hecklers on their first foray into the rebellious port city of Antwerp on Friday. Though several hundred people lined up to greet Philippe, who ascended to the throne in July after his father’s abdication, an equally big…

Microsoft reports 37,000 government data requests in first half of 2013

Microsoft said Friday it received more than 37,000 government requests for information in the first half of 2013 — excluding any national security requests. In only its second report on the matter, the US tech giant’s figures appeared to be on pace with 2012, when it got 75,378 requests. “The…

New Jersey ban on marriage equality struck down by state court

A New Jersey Superior Court judge struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage on Friday, ruling that LGBT couples must be granted marriage licenses starting on Oct. 21. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that Judge Mary Jacobson argued the state’s law allowing civil unions denied married same-sex couples federal…

Michigan soccer match cancelled after man allegedly enters stands with a deadly ‘weapon’

The Muskegon Chronicle reported today that a soccer game between two private schools, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian and Hudsonville Freedomville Christian, had to be halted when an assistant coach noticed a man sporting what appeared to be an openly holstered gun. The assistant, Dave Hulings, told Muskegon Western’s head coach,…

Florida may prohibit sex offenders from having any porn

Some sex offenders would be barred from accessing pornography under a pair of bills filed by Florida lawmakers. The measures would modify an existing law barring sex offenders from viewing the type of pornography relating to their offense. The new laws would prohibit sex offenders on probation from possessing any…

Barilla begs for forgiveness after CEO’s anti-gay remarks

Italian pasta maker Barilla fought boycott calls on Friday after its CEO said he would never use gay couples in commercials, prompting calls for Italy’s 1950s-style television ads to get with the times. The leading pasta company in Italy and a major exporter worldwide with a turnover last year of…

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