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American Legislative Exchange Council plows forward with pro-gun agenda

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive alliance of big businesses and largely Republican state legislators who co-operate to push a right-wing political agenda in the American hinterland, is continuing to wield outsized influence over gun laws across the US despite its promise in the wake of the Trayvon Martin…

White House rejects calls to boycott Winter Olympics over LGBT persecution

The White House shot down calls for a US boycott of the Sochi winter Olympics on Thursday as it tried to draw a line under recent disputes with Russia ahead of ministerial talks scheduled in Washington. Amid concerns that this week’s decision to cancel a planned presidential summit had set…

Former special education teacher guns down four people in Texas

By Marice Richter DALLAS (Reuters) – A former Texas special education teacher, described by a colleague as a “gentle giant,” was suspected of fatally shooting four people and wounding four others in an apparent domestic incident late on Wednesday, police said. The shooting spree began in a home in Dallas…

Muslims celebrate Eid amid threat of violence

Muslims marked the Eid al-Fitr festival Thursday with feasts and prayers, even as bombings killed dozens of people in Asia and the threat of fresh violence loomed in the Middle East. A suicide bomber killed 38 people and wounded 50 others, most of them policemen attending the funeral of a…

Targeted booze strikes: Aerial drone drops beer at South Africa music festival

Revellers at a South African outdoor rock festival no longer need to queue to slake their thirst — a flying robot will drop them beer by parachute. After clients place an order using a smartphone app, a drone zooms 15 metres (50 feet) above the heads of the festival-goers to…

Richard Dawkins criticized for saying Muslims have few Nobel prizes but ‘did great things in the Middle Ages’

Controversial scientist accused of ‘dressing his bigotry up as atheism’ following comments on social networking site The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins was involved in an online Twitter row on Thursday after tweeting: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages,…

Two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs born at Washington zoo

(Reuters) – Two Sumatran tiger cubs have been born at the national zoo in Washington, D.C., and by Thursday they were crawling over their mother “as if her body is a jungle gym,” the zoo said on its website on Thursday. The cubs’ birth on Monday night was heralded as…

New science shows flu shots don’t increase pregnant women’s risks of complications

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Pregnant women who get flu shots are at no greater risk for complications like high blood pressure, urinary tract infection or gestational diabetes, according to a new U.S. study. The results are not surprising in light of previous research, said lead author Dr. Elyse Kharbanda…

Marine who urinated on dead Taliban fighters in 2011 receives reduced rank as punishment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Marine sergeant who was videotaped urinating on dead Taliban insurgents, an incident that stoked ire last year toward U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has been reduced to the rank of corporal after pleading guilty, the Marine Corps said on Thursday. Sergeant Robert Richards was the last of…

Officer from Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s jail shot dead in own driveway

PHOENIX (Reuters) – An Arizona detention officer who worked for the jail system run by America’s self-described “toughest sheriff” was shot and killed in the driveway of his Phoenix home as he prepared to go to work before dawn on Thursday, authorities said. Police officers using dogs quickly mounted a…

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