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David Bowie releases first album in decade

British rock icon David Bowie released his first album in a decade Thursday, streaming the comeback record exclusively on iTunes. The highly anticipated surprise release — coming more than a week before its commercial launch on March 12 — will be streamed on Apple’s media player until the album is…

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac swings to $11 billion profit

US mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac has posted an $11 billion annual profit for 2012, compared to a loss of $5.3 billion a year earlier. The government-controlled company, bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis, also reported $4.5 billion in net income for the fourth quarter of last year, up…

Israel ‘to delay settlement starts for Obama trip’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned settler housing tenders being issued for the West Bank and east Jerusalem when US President Barack Obama visits this month, a daily said Friday. Netanyahu had told officials the “suspension” did not amount to a freeze in settlement construction, and that it would…

United States braces for job-killing budget cuts

The United States was braced for $85 billion in budget cuts due to hit Friday in a self-inflicted wound brought on by deep ideological antipathy between President Barack Obama and Republicans. The cuts, which could cost a million jobs, will slice public services and threaten an economy that is already…

White House urges Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8

US President Barack Obama’s administration threw its weight behind gay marriage, urging the Supreme Court to strike down California’s ban on same-sex unions. The court is set to examine the issue on March 26, when it will study the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a measure approved by a 2008…

New York Catholics hold special Mass to pray for Benedict

As Pope Benedict XVI was officially stepping down on Thursday in Rome, several hundred faithful paid homage to him and prayed for his successor at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The special Mass, held under the gaze of a large, specially-installed portrait of the retiring pontiff, was led by…

NFL to investigate improper questions about sexual orientation

Questions by team representatives regarding sexual orientation to collegiate players hoping for a multi-million-dollar National Football League career have prompted an investigation by the league. An NFL statement on its website said the league would look into reports that prospects were asked improper questions at the NFL Scouting Combine, four…

Democratic and Republican bills to replace sequester cuts fail in the Senate

Two competing bills aimed at averting huge spending cuts failed Thursday in the US Senate, including a Republican effort that would have ceded authority to the White House to implement the reductions. Both bills fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance, virtually assuring that the $85 billion in…

SpaceX prepares for third trip to the International Space Station

As US firm SpaceX prepares for its third launch to the space station Friday, NASA said there was nothing “particularly challenging” about a mission that a few months ago was unprecedented. Liftoff is set for 10:10 am local time (1510 GMT) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to launch the unmanned Dragon…

First Lady Michelle Obama launches new campaign against childhood obesity

First Lady Michelle Obama took her campaign against childhood obesity to a new level Thursday with a $150 million program to encourage more physical activity in American schools. Let’s Move! Active Schools builds upon the Let’s Move! initiative that the mother-of-two and wife of Barack Obama unveiled three years ago…

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