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Shocking footage of the violent groups that target gay men and lesbian women in Russia will reveal the dangerous levels of homophobia in the country in the runup to the Sochi Winter Olympics this week.

 

A Channel 4 documentary, Hunted, to be broadcast in the Dispatchesstrand on Wednesday at 10pm, will include the first television reporting of the concerted intimidation and humiliation carried out by the anti-gay groups Parents of Russia and Occupy Paedophilia.

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The Iraqi army intensified its shelling of Falluja on Sunday in preparation for a ground assault to regain authority over the city, which has been under the control of militants for a month.

 

Mostly Sunni insurgents, among them fighters linked to al-Qaida, overran Falluja in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar on 1 January, against a backdrop of deteriorating security in Iraq.

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The election campaign for Afghanistan's next president officially kicked off on Sunday, two months before voting opens in a contest already plagued by violence and fraud but still the country's best hope of a somewhat stable future.

 

If it goes smoothly the April election will produce the first ever peaceful, democratic transition of power in Afghanistan. The incumbent, Hamid Karzai, is barred from standing again.

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Al-Qaida's general command has said it has no links with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in an apparent attempt to assert authority over the Islamist militant groups involved in Syria's civil war.

 

The small but powerful ISIL has been caught up in battles with other Islamist insurgents often triggered by disputes over authority and territory, and has also clashed with secular rebels.

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The US hit back at Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday after the Israeli prime minister warned that calls for boycotts of Israel to pressure it over settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are "immoral and unjustified" and would not achieve their goal.

 

In a public spat that reflected tensions over slow-moving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the state department rebuked Netanyahu for apparently misrepresenting the words of the US secretary of state, John Kerry. Another senior rightwing minister accused Kerry of serving as a "mouthpiece" for antisemitic views.

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An Alabama blogger who's been jailed indefinitely after writing salacious posts about local Republican politicians is the only person in the Western Hemisphere on a prominent list of imprisoned journalists, The New York Times reports.

Roger Shuler's blog, Legal Schnauzer, is polarizing, and his allegations are "fuzzily sourced," The Times reports. But civil rights experts are saying the judge who threw Shuler in jail is violating his First Amendment rights.

 

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand braced for a "shutdown" of its capital on Monday by protesters who want to topple Prime MinisterYingluck Shinawatra and install an unelected government, as fears grew that the southeast Asian country could be heading for civil war.

Protesters led by former opposition politician Suthep Thaugsuban started blocking major intersections late on Sunday, aiming to create traffic chaos in a city of an estimated 12 million people where roads are clogged at the best of times.

 

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Iran said on Sunday that an accord it struck with world powers on its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions will take effect from January 20.

The United States confirmed the news although President Barack Obama warned of a tough road ahead to real a comprehensive solution.

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Telephone companies are quietly balking at the idea of changing how they collect and store Americans' phone records to help the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. They're worried about their exposure to lawsuits and the price tag if the U.S. government asks them to hold information about customers for longer than they already do.

 

President Barack Obama is expected to announce Friday what changes he is willing to make to satisfy privacy, legal and civil liberties concerns over the NSA's surveillance practices. One of the most important questions is whether the government will continue to collect millions of Americans' phone records every day so that the government can identify anyone it believes might be communicating with known terrorists.

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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — At least 12 young men were gunned down in separate incidents within hours of one another on the gritty outskirts of a university town, and investigators said Monday they're looking into whether police officers carried out the killings as revenge for the shooting death of a colleague in the same area.

The wave of killings began Sunday night and continued into early Monday in Campinas, a city of 1 million people known as the hub of Brazil's tech industry.

 

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Right now Al Qaeda is under siege across the Muslim world not by Washington's drone army, but rather because its doctrine of governance is incompatible with modern society.

In the last few days, measurably less extreme Muslim militants in both Syria and Iraq's Anbar are fighting tooth and nail to push these Al Qaeda militants, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, out of Syria and Iraq.

 

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On Friday, the House passed the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act, a one-sentence bill that, in the event of any security breach of HealthCare.gov, would require the government to notify affected individuals within two days.

But the real purpose of the bill seems to be to keep negative attention on HealthCare.gov, not to keep users' information secure.

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Top congressional negotiators Monday night released a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year.

The massive measure fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest, but much-sought relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies after deep budget cuts last year.

The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.

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America is refusing to enter a bilateral no-spy agreement with Germany and has declined to rule out bugging the calls of German political leaders in the immediate future, according to reports in the German media.

 

Last October, revelations that the National Security Agency had been bugging Angela Merkel's mobile were met with outrage in Berlin and apologetic soundbites from Washington.

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A car bomb exploded at a military post in a commercial area in a north-eastern Nigerian city on Tuesday, causing pandemonium with blood-spattered bystanders running away and vehicles colliding as drivers rushed to flee.

 

A suicide bomber is suspected of causing the lunchtime blast in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist network that has been terrorising north-east Nigeria. There was no immediate casualty toll.

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Israeli police say they briefly pulled over the Palestinian prime minister's convoy for reckless driving in the West Bank, sparking a diplomatic spat.

 

While the Israelis say they quickly allowed the convoy to pass on Tuesday, the Palestinians say the incident was a violation of their rights.

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A retired Florida policeman has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting a man who texted during a film.

 

Authorities said Curtis Reeves, 71, and Chad Oulson, 43, got into an argument before the screening of the film Lone Survivor when Reeves asked Oulson to stop texting.

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Turkish anti-terrorist police have raided the offices of an aid agency on the border with Syria as part of what local media said was an operation in six cities against individuals suspected of links to al-Qaida.

Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said police had raided its offices in the southern city of Kilis, and detained one person.

The IHH came to prominence in May 2010 when Israeli marines stormed its Mavi Marmara ship to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists.

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More than 200 women and children drowned when their overloaded boat capsized on the Nile as they scrambled to escape fighting in South Sudan, officials said on Tuesday.

 

In a disaster shocking even by the standards of the month-long warfare wracking the world's youngest country, only two people, male crew members, are believed to have survived.

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A man has been killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi outside a polling station south of Cairo.

 

The polls opened for the first time in the post-Morsi era on Tuesday morning in a constitutional referendum that opposition activists claim they have not been free to campaign against.

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