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Friday, Sep 19th

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Boko Haram suspected of abducting more than 50 Nigerian villagers

Boca HaramResidents of a Nigerian village on the shore of Lake Chad say at least 50 residents are missing after a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants.

A witness told the BBC that 26 people were also killed during the raid on the village of Doron Baga on Sunday.  The remote region has poor communication links, meaning news of the raid took days to emerge.

Nigeria has been plagued by attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist group in recent years, particularly in the north-east.

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ISIS Baffling U.S. Intelligence Agencies

ISIS baffling US IntelIt’s been two months since ISIS took over Iraq’s second-largest city. But U.S. analysts are still trying to figure out how big the group is and the real identities of its leaders.

The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to answer basic questions about the jihadists who tried to wipe out Iraq’s remaining Yazidis and who now threaten to overrun the capital of the country’s Kurdish provinces.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, U.S. intelligence officials said the government is re-evaluating an estimate from early this year that said the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had only 10,000 members. These officials also said intelligence analysts were still trying to determine the real names of many of the group’s leaders from records of Iraqis who went in and out of American custody during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

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France passes sweeping gender-equality law

France passes gender equality lawFrance passed a sweeping gender-equality law this week that eases current restrictions on abortion, encourages paternity leave and promotes gender parity at home and in the workplace.

Under the new law passed on Tuesday, women can obtain an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without any need to cite a reason. This amends France’s previous law, passed in 1975, that gave women the legal right to terminate a pregnancy only if they were in a situation of “distress.” The new law also bans any attempt to prevent women from obtaining information about abortion services.

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Russian military vehicles enter Ukraine as aid convoy stops short of border

Russian military vehicles enter UkraineThe white trucks of humanitarian aid rumbled through Russia in a convoy stretching for miles, moving slowly southwards on the M4 highway, amid a landscape of fertile fields and Ladas stopped at the roadside – their boots overflowing with watermelons for sale.

But, while the trucks came to a halt well short of Ukraine's border, a different Russian convoy did make the crossing into Ukrainian territory late on Thursday evening.

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Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agrees to step down

Al MalikiEmbattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive.

The Obama administration has blamed al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government for sparking much of the sectarian strife that has gripped his country, as minority Sunnis have felt alienated and have sympathized with armed Sunni extremists calling themselves the Islamic State.

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Gaza Crisis: Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy

Gaza crisisWhite House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

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Brazil presidential candidate Campos killed in plane crash

Eduardi Campos dead in plane crashBrazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday, throwing the October election and local financial markets into disarray.

A private jet carrying Campos and his entourage crashed in a residential area in bad weather as it prepared to land in the coastal city of Santos. The accident killed all seven people on board, the Sao Paulo state fire department said.

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