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EU ministers back arming Iraqi Kurd fighters: Germany

EU ministers agreed Friday to back the arming of beleaguered Iraqi Kurd fighters by key member states, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after three hours of talks. "We have found a common position, the sprit of which says the EU commends the fact that certain countries have responded favourably to the request made by Kurdish Iraqi forces," Steinmeier said. France and Britain have already moved ahead with plans to provide weapons to beleaguered Iraqi forces, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius pushed for the talks to mobilise an EU-wide response to the crisis in Iraq. Defence matters are strictly the purview of member states, and the EU approval for member states to send arms to a conflict zone is rare.

Obama to go to Estonia next month: White House

US President Barack Obama will go to Estonia next month to reaffirm Washington's commitment to NATO allies at a time of rising tensions with Russia over Ukraine, the White House announced Friday. "In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of NATO," the White House said, referring to the allies' pledge to regard an attack on one member as an attack on all.

Iraqi Sunnis lay out conditional offer to join unity government

By Raheem Salman and Michael Georgy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Tribal leaders and clerics from Iraq's Sunni heartland said on Friday they would be willing under certain conditions to join a new government that hopes to contain sectarian bloodshed and an offensive by Islamic State militants that threatens Baghdad. Members of the Sunni Muslim minority made their offer after Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, threw his weight behind prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, a Shi'ite trying to form an inclusive government in a country beset by daily bombings, abductions and executions. Abadi faces the daunting task of pacifying the vast western province of Anbar, where Sunni frustrations with the sectarian policies of outgoing Shi'ite premier Nuri al-Maliki have pushed some to join an insurgency led by the Islamic State fighters.

Hamas negotiators in Qatar to discuss Israel truce

CAIRO (AP) — Hamas negotiators met with the Islamic militant group's leadership in Qatar on Friday to discuss a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel, with an official saying the group was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer.

Aid group: W. Africa Ebola outbreak like 'wartime'

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa could last another six months, Doctors Without Borders said Friday, and a medical worker acknowledged that the true death toll is unknown.

Wall St. gains, on track for strong week

By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting major indexes on track for a second week of gains, as a growing consensus that there would be no immediate escalation in the tense situations in Ukraine or Iraq offset weak data on manufacturing and consumer sentiment. The inspection comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a softer tone in comments regarding Ukraine. In Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for a new coalition that world and regional powers hope will be able to quash a Sunni Islamist insurgency that threatens Baghdad. "While no one is discounting the possibility that these issues could get worse next week, there hasn't been anything untoward yet with the inspections or in Iraq, and that's a positive," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group in New York.

'I'm paying for a mistake I made': Suarez

Luis Suarez trained with his Barcelona team-mates for the first time on Friday and then admitted he was still paying for his "mistake" in biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. After getting the green light from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Uruguayan striker was the centre of attention as he took part in his first training session with the Catalan club. "I am only thinking about the future, which is at FC Barcelona, the club who I dreamed of playing for." Suarez took an active part in the session with the main group under the watchful eye of coach Luis Enrique.

Pope has tough sell on materialism in South Korea

DAEJEON, South Korea (AP) — Pope Francis called Friday during a trip to South Korea for Catholics to combat the allure of materialism. In the newly rich and hyper-competitive country, that might be a hard sell.

Sophisticated traders draw criticism for profiting off power shortages

As summer heat spikes and air conditioning units flip on across New York's Long Island neighborhoods, the aging electrical grid is struggling to handle the demand. To compensate these local power plants reach across the state and the nation, borrowing juice from places with electricity to spare. Congestion contracts allow private companies to wager on the nation's recently deregulated electrical grid

Try commuting in this three-wheeler

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — Your next commuter car could have two seats, three wheels and get 84 miles to the gallon.

10 awesome paid iPhone apps that are free right now ($23 value!)

This has been a terrific week for paid iPhone and iPad apps that were made available for free for a limited time, and some apps in our last post can still be downloaded for free if you move quickly. We’re finishing the week even stronger though, with 10 paid iOS apps worth a combined $23 that can all be downloaded for free right now. As always, be sure to act fast if you see anything you like because these sales could end at any time. These are paid iPhone and iPad apps that have been made available for free for a limited time by their developers. There is no way to tell how long they will be free. These sales

NASCAR adds rule on exiting cars after crashes

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — NASCAR added a rule Friday ordering drivers to not approach the track or moving cars after accidents. The announcement comes less than a week after a driver was struck and killed during a dirt-track race in New York.

Modi says India is shamed by rape in Independence Day speech

By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India's recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out against rape in his first Independence Day speech on Friday, saying the country was shamed by increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls. "Today when we hear about these rapes, our heads hang in shame," said Modi, from the ramparts of the 17th century Red Fort in old Delhi on the 68th anniversary of the country's independence. Newspapers and television channels in India carry daily reports of the rapes of women and young girls, some murdered by the perpetrators to cover the crime. The high-profile gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi in December 2012 led to country-wide protests for better security for women and sparked national debate about gender inequalities in India.

Obama to visit Estonia, meet with Baltic leaders in September

U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Estonia in September and meet with leaders from three Baltic states on his way to a NATO summit in Wales, the White House said on Friday. While there, he will meet with the prime minister and president of Estonia as well as the presidents of Lithuania and Latvia to discuss regional security, economic growth, and collective defense, it said. "In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of NATO," the White House said in a statement. Obama's stop in Estonia before attending the NATO summit is meant to give a signal to the Baltic states as well as Russia that the United States remains active in the region even as Moscow intervenes in Ukraine.

Deere to lay off more than 600 at four U.S. plants

(Reuters) - Deere & Co, the world's largest maker of farm equipment, said it would indefinitely lay off more than 600 employees at plants in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas as falling grain prices hurt demand for tractors, harvesters and other agricultural machinery. Deere had about 67,000 full-time employees as of Oct. 31, 2013, of which about 33,900 were in the United States and Canada. The layoffs are at plants in Moline and East Moline, Illinois; Deere, whose shares were little changed at $84.90 in early trading on Friday, said it would also implement seasonal and inventory-adjustment shutdowns at the affected plants that would result in temporary layoffs.

Economists raise third-quarter U.S. growth forecasts: Philly Fed survey

Economists raised their forecasts for U.S. economic growth in the third quarter but trimmed their estimates for the balance of 2014, though the outlook for both job growth and lower unemployment was strengthened. Analysts see the economy growing at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the current quarter, up from a previous estimate of 2.9 percent, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's quarterly survey of 43 forecasters, released on Friday. Fourth-quarter growth was forecast at 3.1 percent, down from a previous estimate of 3.2 percent, and first-quarter 2015 growth was estimated at 3.1 percent, unchanged from an earlier estimate of 3.1 percent. Meanwhile, they see the economy growing at a rate of 2.1 percent for all of 2014, down from the previous estimate of 2.4 percent in the previous survey in May. Growth in 2015 is expected to come in at 3.1 percent, unchanged from the 3.1 percent estimate in the May survey.