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Friday, Apr 25th

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Japan Ends Half-Century Ban on Weapons Exports

Shinzo AbeTaking his nation another step away from its postwar pacifism, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discarded a half-century ban on the export of weapons and military hardware on Tuesday, a move aimed at helping Japan assume a larger regional security role to offset China’s growing military might.

The decision, which had been under consideration for years before Mr. Abe took office, replaced the self-imposed ban dating back to the late 1960s with new, still-restrictive guidelines that permit the export of weapons only to allies and partners that agree not to sell them to third nations without Japanese approval. The new guidelines will also make it easier for Japan to join multinational development projects for expensive new weapons systems, like the American-led effort to build the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

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Yemenis affected by U.S. drone strikes to launch victims' union

Yemeni dron victimsFriends and family members of victims of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen are launching a national drone victims’ organization Tuesday to support affected communities and lobby for a change in Yemeni government policy regarding the covert program.

The National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV), with the assistance of UK-based legal charity Reprieve, will conduct investigations of drone strikes and highlight the civilian impact of the U.S.’ controversial drone program in Yemen.

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Israeli court convicts ex-PM Olmert of bribery

EHUD OlmertAn Israeli court on Monday convicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a wide-ranging bribery case, a verdict that could send him to prison and that is likely to rule out any immediate hopes for a political comeback.

The development seals the most serious legal battle the 68-year-old Olmert has been waging since he was forced to step down as prime minister in 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations.

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Chile Derails "Monsanto Law" That Would Privatize Seeds

Chile's Monsanto lawThis month, rural women, indigenous communities, and farmers in Chile found themselves on the winning end of a long-fought battle against a bill that had come to be known by many in this country as simply, the “Monsanto Law.”

The bill, which would have given multinational agribusiness corporations the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify, was withdrawn by the Chilean government now controlled by newly elected members of the center-left coalition known as the New Majority, amid concerns that the law would bring harm to the country’s small and mid-sized farmers.

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Officials Find 370 Migrant Children Abandoned By Traffickers In Mexico

children abandoned by traffickersMexican officials said Saturday that in one week they found 370 migrant children who had apparently been abandoned by traffickers paid to take them to the United States.

The children were rescued in 14 Mexican states between March 17 and 24, and the youngest was 9 years old, the National Migration Institute said in a statement, adding that 163 of the children under 18 were found travelling alone.

Most migrants heading through Mexico to the United States come from Central America. They face the threat of accidents, robbery, rape or being forcibly recruited by criminal gangs along the way.

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GCHQ and NSA Targeted Private German Companies

MerkelDocuments show that Britain's GCHQ intelligence service infiltrated German Internet firms and America's NSA obtained a court order to spy on Germany and collected information about the chancellor in a special database. Is it time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation?

The headquarters of Stellar, a company based in the town of Hürth near Cologne, are visible from a distance. Seventy-five white antennas dominate the landscape. The biggest are 16 meters (52 feet) tall and kept in place by steel anchors. It is an impressive sight and serves as a popular backdrop for scenes in TV shows, including the German action series "Cobra 11."

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Same-sex marriage now legal in England and Wales

same sex marriage legal in England and walesFor the first time same-sex couples are now legally allowed to get married in England and Wales.

Politicians from the main parties have hailed the change in the law. David Cameron said the move sent a message that people were now equal "whether gay or straight", but some religious groups remain opposed.

Scotland passed a similar law in February; the first same-sex marriages are expected there in October. Northern Ireland has no plans to follow suit.

In an article for the Pink News website, the prime minister wrote: "This weekend is an important moment for our country.

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