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Friday, Jul 03rd

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Ireland set to accept gay marriage in landmark referendum

Ireland to vote on gay marriageThe Irish voted on Friday on whether to allow gay marriage, just two decades after decriminalizing homosexuality, with a strong early turnout likely to favor the 'Yes' side.

With the once mighty Catholic Church's influence ravaged by child abuse scandals, opinion polls indicated the proposal would pass by as much as two-to-one, making Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote.

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Suicide bomber strikes Saudi Shi'ite mosque, many dead or wounded

Saudi mosque bombedA suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers, residents said, killing around 20 people and wounding more than 50, local residents and a hospital officials said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, the first to target Shi'ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia since November when gunmen killed at least eight people in an attack on a Shi'ite religious anniversary celebration, also in the east where most of the country's minority Shi'ites live.

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ISIS captures ancient ruins, controls half of Syria

ISIS controls half of SyriaIslamic State fighters tightened their grip on the historic city of Palmyra in Syria, days after capturing a provincial capital in neighboring Iraq, suggesting the growing momentum of the group which a monitor says now holds half of Syrian territory.

The twin successes pile pressure not just on Damascus and Baghdad, but also throw doubt on U.S. strategy to rely almost exclusively on air strikes to defeat Islamic State.

Extending its reach in the region, fighters loyal to the Sunni Muslim group have also consolidated their grip on the Libyan city of Sirte, hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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Syrian city of Palmyra falls under control of Isis

Palmyra fallsThe historic city of Palmyra appears to have fallen almost entirely under the control of Islamic State, after forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad collapsed under a seven-day siege that has now left the magnificent ruins there exposed to near-certain destruction by the terror group.

Activists from the city and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said most of Palmyra fell on Wednesday shortly after the Assad regime evacuated most of the civilians in it and began withdrawing towards regime strongholds in the west.

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British child sex-abuse probe yields over 1,400 suspects

Simon BaileyMore than 1,400 suspects, including 76 politicians and dozens of celebrities, are being investigated over allegations of child sex abuse involving VIPs and institutions such as schools, a British police group said Wednesday.

The allegations, many of which relate to cases from years ago, were revealed in a briefing to reporters by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), a group that operates across Britain's disparate forces on what it calls "the most serious and strategic threats."

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Five global banks to pay $5.7 billion in fines over rate rigging

rate rigginhg banks finedFive of the world's largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc, were fined roughly $5.7 billion, and four of them pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges over manipulation of foreign exchange rates, authorities said on Wednesday.

A fifth bank, UBS AG, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates, the U.S. Justice Department said.

U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will pay $550 million and $925 million in criminal fines, respectively, as part of their guilty pleas.

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Israeli prime minister calls off West Bank bus segregation

palestinian workersIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called off a proposed plan to segregate Palestinians from Israelis on West Bank buses, overruling his own defense minister following a flurry of criticism in an attempt to avert the first crisis of his new government.

An official in the prime minister's office said Netanyahu called Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to tell him he found his proposal "unacceptable" and the two then decided to freeze the plan.

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