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Support is growing for a campaign to draft Condoleezza Rice as Commissioner for the troubled National Football League (NFL).

American football, the country’s most popular sport and a bastion of macho male culture, has suffered one of the worst weeks in its history with three high-profile stars facing accusations of domestic violence.

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments.

The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor's.

 

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The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal — destroying a marauding organization of extremists — is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has received backing for the principle of reversing the territorial gains of the Islamic State group in Iraq. But getting concrete assistance is another matter, and there is a whiff of lip service about the proceedings.

 

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Militant group Hamas would sweep Palestinian elections if they were held today after its support soared during seven weeks of war with Israel in Gaza, an opinion poll published on Tuesday found.

 

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said the poll showed Islamists clearly leading presidential and parliamentary polls for the first time since Palestinians last voted eight years ago, when Hamas won power in Gaza.

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U.S. Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Sunday urged Washington to arm the Ukrainian government, saying it needed help to repel what they called Russia's invasion of the country.

Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN the United States,European Union and NATO should work together to arm Kiev, which has been fighting Russian-backed rebels ineastern Ukraine for months.

 

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The United Kingdom will push the European Union this weekend to consider the most punitive sanctions yet against Russia for its involvement in escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, the U.K. plans to propose blocking Russia from the SWIFT banking transaction system, a move analysts say would effectively cut off Russian businesses from the rest of the world's financial system. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will put forward the proposal during a meeting with E.U. leaders in Brussels on Saturday.

 

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Washington is facing growing international pressure to ease its long standing ban on crude oil exports, with South Korea and Mexico joining the European Union in pressing the case for U.S. oil shipments overseas.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye told a visiting U.S. delegation of lawmakers on the House of Representatives energy committee on Aug. 11 that tapping into the gusher of ultra-light, sweet crude emerging from places like Texas and North Dakota was a priority, the lawmakers said.

 

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BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels holding 45 Fijian peacekeepers hostage have issued a set of demands for their release, including the extremist group's removal from a U.N. terrorist list and compensation for the killing of three of its fighters in a shootout with international troops, an official said Tuesday.

 

The Nusra Front seized the Fijians on Thursday in the Golan Heights, where a 1,200-strong U.N. force monitors the buffer zone between Syria and Israel. The rebels also surrounded two Filipino units, but those U.N. troops escaped over the weekend.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al Shabaab militants in Somalia, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said.

"We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

 

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BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO leaders this week will be asked to approve creation of a high-readiness force and the stockpiling of military equipment and supplies in Eastern Europe to help protect member nations there against potential Russian aggression, the alliance's secretary general said Monday.

"The Readiness Action Plan will ensure that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place, at the right time," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "Not because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies."

 

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The senior official in Crimea says sexual minorities "have no chance" on the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.

Speaking about gays during a Crimean government session on September 2, Sergei Aksyonov said "we in Crimea do not need such people."

 

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VOSTOCHNY Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered construction sped up on a multi-billion-dollar spaceport in Russia's Far East that he said would break reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and launch future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Putin flew in a helicopter over the sprawling building site in Vostochny at a time when conflict with Ukraine, maker of Zenit and Dnepr rockets, is highlighting the fragility of Russia's dependence on former Soviet republics in defense and space.

 

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Dear Friends,

 

In recent weeks we have witnessed a surge in anti-Semitism around the world in response to Israel's efforts to defend itself against an aggressor who is sworn to its destruction.  This anti-Semitism, hiding behind a facade of anti-Zionism, is unparalleled since Nazi Germany.

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Fugitive US intelligence agent Edward Snowden marked on Thursday one year of political asylum in Russia, where he continues to live a life shrouded in mystery amid a dearth of public appearances.

Little has been heard on the movements of the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor since he first obtained provisional leave to remain in Russia after spending -- according to the official version -- a month in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

 

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Libya's government is looking for international help as it fights a massive fire at a fuel depot near the Tripoli airport while Islamist militants have overrun a major base in Benghazi.

 

Basically, Libya is at its lowest and most violent point since the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Qaddafi in a 2011 civil war.

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The Assad regime is suffering some of its worst defeats of Syria's three-year civil war.

On July 19, the regime was at the losing end of the deadliest 48-hour span of the conflict, when ISIS militants seized the Sha'ar gas fields in the Homs countryside. Days later, ISIS defeated the Syrian army's 17th Division in a battle outside of Raqqa.

 

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Al-Qaeda is increasingly funding terror operations thanks to at least $125 million in ransom paid since 2008, largely by European governments to free western hostages, The New York Times reported.

The payments totaled $66 million in 2013 alone, according to an investigation by the newspaper published Tuesday.

While Al-Qaeda's network was first funded by wealthy donors, "kidnapping for ransom has become today’s most significant source of terrorist financing," said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a 2012 speech.

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A Hezbollah commander has died during a mission in Iraq, sources familiar with the incident said on Wednesday, indicating the Lebanese group that is already fighting in Syria's civil war may be involved in a second conflict in the region.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi'ite Islamist group, has not previously announced any role in the conflict in Iraq, which escalated last month when radical Sunni militants seized large areas of territory from the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

Four sources in Lebanon named the Hezbollah commander as Ibrahim al-Haj, a technical specialist involved in training. They said he was "martyred" in a battle near Mosul, a city in northern Iraq seized from government control last month by an al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State. 

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Russia on Wednesday dismissed Washington's accusations that it has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty as "unfounded", and said it had its own complaints against the United States over the treaty.

"We have amassed many complaints to the U.S. in the context of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty. This includes... production of armed drones by the Americans, which...fall into the category of ground-based cruise missiles as defined by the Treaty," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 

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Ukraine's parliament has overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation.

In a vote on July 31, only 16 lawmakers voted to accept Yatsenyuk's resignation, while 109 rejected it. The rest of the 450-member parliament were either absent or not voting.

 

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