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Insurgent advance slows in Iraq as images of mass killing spread online

Iraq civil warAn offensive by insurgents that threatens to dismember Iraq seemed to slow on Saturday after days of lightning advances as government forces regained some territory in counter-attacks, easing pressure on the Shia-led government in Baghdad.

As Iraqi officials spoke of wresting back the initiative against Sunni militants, the Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers.

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Petition with 150,000 signatures calls on France to grant Snowden asylum

Edward SnowdenA petition has gathered more than 150,000 signatures as of Friday urging President Francois Hollande to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in France after his asylum status in Russia expires in July.

“We intellectuals, philosophers, researchers, essayists, journalists, and above all engaged citizens ask Francois Hollande … to welcome [Snowden], without delay, as a political refugee in France, the country of human rights and freedom of the press,” said the petition, which was published in French news magazine L’Express on June 3.

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U.S. Relocates Carrier as Iraq Sectarian Battle Lines Harden

US relocates carrier to GulfThe U.S. ordered an aircraft carrier to head into the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama weighs options on how to aid Iraq’s Shiite-led government in its fight against Sunni militants threatening to re-ignite sectarian conflict in OPEC’s second-largest oil producer.

The Pentagon in dispatching today the USS George H.W. Bush, which has been in the North Arabian Sea, said its new location “will provide the commander-in-chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.”

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Israeli official says missing teens presumed alive

oalestians rounded up after tens missingIsrael's defense minister said Saturday that the military is determined to find the three missing teenagers, one of whom is an American, who he said are presumed alive and believed held by Palestinian militants.

Security forces searched the West Bank for a second day Saturday, looking for three missing teenagers who disappeared late Thursday in the West Bank, reportedly while hitchhiking.

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Military plane shot down by rebels in east Ukraine, killing 49

Military plane shot down in UkraineA Ukrainian military plane was shot down by rebels using an anti-aircraft missile Saturday, killing all 49 personnel on board and providing further evidence of an increasingly well-armed, pro-Russian rebellion.

Nine crew and 40 troops were aboard the plane when it went down on approach to an airport in the city of Luhansk, the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said in a statement. On Saturday, armed separatists were seen inspecting the scorched wreckage in a field 12 miles south of Luhansk.

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Jamaica to lessen marijuana restrictions

Jamaica legalizes marijuanaJamaica will soon reform its drug laws, making it legal to possess up to two ounces of marijuana.

Justice Minister Mark Golding emphasized "the proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes."

Instead, the justice minister said, "The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities."  Marijuana would also be legalized for religious, medical, and scientific purposes, Golding added.

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Tel Aviv shows off its pride with 16th-annual Gay Pride Parade

Gay Pride parade Tel AvivAt the peak of Tel Aviv’s 16th annual Pride Parade kickoff in Gan Meir, navigating the balloon-lined roads of the park felt like swimming upstream in a river of thousands of brightly colored fish.

People of all ages, races, nationalities and sexual identities, many scantily clad and adorned in rainbow flags, crammed into the vibrant park-space in central Tel Aviv to listen to local musical performances, visit stalls of organizers and activists, hear an introduction from Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, and show off the best of LGBTQ culture.

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