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Tuesday, Jun 30th

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Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma lethal injection process

Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a drug used by Oklahoma as part of its lethal injection procedure does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, dealing a setback to opponents of the death penalty.

The court, in a 5-4 decision with its conservative justices in the majority, handed a loss to three inmates who objected to the use of a sedative called midazolam, saying it cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery, making it unsuitable for executions.

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Activists deploy against Shell's arctic plans

Kayak protestsActivists said Monday they took to the water off the Washington state coast in kayaks to try to slow progress of a Shell drilling rig bound for arctic waters.

"We know we can't stop them," Carlo Voli, a campaigner from advocacy group 350 Seattle, said in an emailed statement. "But we can't just watch them go; we have to do all we can to slow them down, and get people to focus on what a disaster Arctic drilling would be."

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Israeli navy peacefully intercepts Gaza-bound vessel

Israel inteercepts boat headed for GazaIsrael's navy intercepted a Swedish vessel attempting to breach a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip early Monday and was redirecting it to an Israeli port, the military and the activists said.

The military said that after exhausting all diplomatic efforts, the government ordered it to block the vessel. Israeli naval forces boarded the Marianne ship and searched it in international waters without needing to use any force, the military said.

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Texas AG: State workers can deny marriage licenses to gay couples

Gov. AbbottTexas’ Attorney General on Sunday stated that county clerks, judges and justices of peace could deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons, arguing that the Supreme Court did not abolish religious liberty.

Ken Paxton, in his non-binding legal opinion, went on to add that “numerous lawyers” would be made available to defend public officials refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press.

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Solar plane takes off in 'moment of truth' for longest solo flight in history

Solar planeA solar plane took off for what could be the longest solo flight in history on Monday, with its Swiss pilot confronting the “moment of truth” of a journey around the Pacific Ocean and around the world.

The Solar Impulse 2 set off about 3am from Nagoya, Japan, en route to Hawaii, a trip expected to take five days and nights of continuous flight.

The Pacific crossing represents the most difficult leg of Andre Borschberg’s attempt to circumnavigate the world in a multi-stage flight.

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As euro exit looms, Greece shutters banks and announces capital controls

Greece to close banksGreece's five-year financial crisis took its most dramatic turn to date Sunday, with the cabinet deciding, after an 8-hour session, that Greek banks would remain shut for six working days and restrictions would be imposed on cash withdrawals.

The Athens Stock Exchange would also not open on Monday, financial sector officials confirmed.

A decree published in the official Government Gazette stipulates banks will not open Monday morning and will remain closed through Monday, July 6. The finance minister could decide to short or extend that period.

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Medical marijuana arrives next week in Minnesota – but smoking it is banned

Medical marijuanaThere will be no baggies of pot awaiting patients next week, when Minnesota joins 21 other states in offering medical marijuana. No glass pipes, no plants to tend at home. Instead, the nation’s latest medical marijuana programme is a world of pill bottles and vials of marijuana-infused oil.

For the qualifying patients seeking relief from pain, medical marijuana advocates and some lawmakers, Wednesday isn’t the finish line, but the first step. The state’s restrictive approach, unseen in the industry, is likely to mean high costs, long drives and reluctant doctors.

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California oil spill cleanup continues as state may allow expanded production

Oil spill californiaJust over a month after California experienced its worst oil spill in decades, the state is considering allowing a company to triple its oil production off the coast of Santa Barbara and run the oil through the same pipeline that leaked on 19 May.

Both oil producers Venoco and ExxonMobil had to halt operations in the region this week as crews continued repairing the ruptured pipeline and cleaning the beaches surrounding it. But that didn’t stop regulators at the State Lands Commission from holding a hearing for Venoco in Goleta, California.

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San Francisco, Chicago and New York are among US cities hosting gay pride events

Gpay Pride PradeHundreds of thousands of people on Sunday packed gay pride events from Chicago to New York City, Seattle to San Francisco, with overall attendance expected in the millions for what amounted to a celebration of a freshly endorsed right to marry.

In San Francisco, a parade that at times resembled a rainbow-colored dance party snaked through downtown. Cheerleaders, dancers and proud families of lesbians and gays swooped up Market Street as spectators flocked 10 to 15 people deep along both sides.

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