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Interpol urges world response to Iraq extremists

PARIS (AP) — Interpol says the killing of an American journalist kidnapped in Syria shows the need for a coordinated international effort against the stream of foreign fighters joining extremists in the Middle East.


Shakira hit song 'Loca' a copy: judge

Colombian pop star Shakira's 2010 hit song "Loca" is an illegal copy of a tune written by a Dominican musician in 1998, a US judge said Wednesday in a copyright trial. In a 40-page ruling Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the song was a replication of one written by singer and composer Ramon Arias Vasquez, known as Arias. The song became a hit in the Dominican Republic when it was later performed by another singer, Eduard Edwin Bellou Pou, also known as "El Cata", in 2007. Shakira's 2010 album "Sale el Sol" (The Sun Comes Out), which had both Spanish and English versions of the song based on that by "El Cata" who is also featured in the recording as well as several others on her album.


Pacquiao wins round in bruising Philippine tax fight

Philippine world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has won a Supreme Court reprieve in his battle to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in extra taxes, authorities said Thursday. Pacquiao will not have to post a cash bond of 3.3 billion pesos ($75.2 million) and the government is banned from seizing any of his assets while his income tax case is being heard, according to a Supreme Court ruling. Pacquiao expressed relief at the ruling, which came ahead of a China tour starting next week to promote the Macau defence of his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against unbeaten US challenger Chris Algieri in November. The dispute arose from an initial assessment from the government that Pacquiao, 35, owed 2.2 billion pesos in unpaid taxes for 2008 and 2009.


Former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds dies, aged 81

Former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, who played a key role in advancing talks towards brokering peace in Northern Ireland, died on Thursday. Reynolds served as prime minister from 1992 to 1994, a period in which he and then British premier John Major signed the Downing Street Declaration, a landmark agreement in the eventual ending of three decades of sectarian bloodshed. Months after the 1993 deal - which affirmed the right of the people of Ireland to self-determination - the Irish Republican Army (IRA) called a ceasefire. A peace agreement followed in 1998, mostly ending the violence between Irish Catholic nationalists and mostly Protestant pro-British loyalists.


London stocks flat at open

London (AFP) - London shares were flat at the start of trading on Thursday as US Federal Reserve minutes suggested interest rates could be hiked sooner than expected.


G20 edging towards deal on 'bail-in' bond cushion for banks

By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - Government leaders are expected to agree in November that the world's top banks must issue special bonds to increase the amount of capital which can be tapped in a crisis instead of calling on taxpayers to come to the rescue, industry and G20 officials said. The bonds, known as "gone concern loss absorption capacity" or GLAC, are seen by regulators as essential to stopping the world's 29 biggest lenders from being "too big to fail". The plans are being drafted by the Financial Stability Board, the regulatory task force of the Group of 20 economies which declined to comment ahead of a G20 summit in November, when G20 leaders will discuss the reform before it is put out to public consultation. There had been unease in Asia and parts of Europe over how big the bond issues need to be to provide this cushion but there is now a new optimism amongst bankers and regulators that the G20 will reach a deal in November.


Israeli strikes kill 15 on day 45 of Gaza war

Three senior Hamas commanders and four children were among at least 15 Palestinians killed in Gaza Thursday as Israel stepped up air strikes on day 45 of the bloody conflict. The leaders in the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades were among at least seven people killed when Israeli missiles totally destroyed a four-storey home in the southern city of Rafah before dawn, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. The Brigades, the military wing of Hamas which holds de facto power in Gaza, identified the three as Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Atar and Mohammed Barhum.


Former Ireland prime minister Reynolds dies aged 81

Former Irish prime minister Albert Reynolds, a central figure in the Northern Ireland peace process who helped broker the 1994 IRA ceasefire, has died aged 81, Irish broadcaster RTE reported Thursday. Reynolds served as taoiseach twice, once in 1992 and then again in 1993-94, but had recently been suffering from the last stages of Alzheimer's disease, his son Philip revealed earlier this week. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams paid tribute on Twitter, sending a message of support to Reynolds' family. Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, also a member of Sinn Fein, lauded Reynolds' role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.


Euro zone business growth slows in July, prices fall: PMI

By Jonathan Cable LONDON, (Reuters) - Euro zone private business growth slowed more than expected this month, despite widespread price cutting, as manufacturing and service industry activity both dwindled, a survey showed on Thursday. Euro zone economic growth ground to a halt in the second quarter, dragged down by a shrinking economy in Germany and a stagnant France, even before any impact from sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine. Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) will provide gloomy reading for the European Central Bank (ECB), suggesting its two biggest economies are struggling like smaller members. Markit said the data point to third-quarter economic growth of 0.3 percent, matching predictions from a Reuters poll last week.


Boxing - Pacquiao wins round in bruising Philippines tax fight

- Philippine world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has won a Supreme Court reprieve in his battle to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in extra taxes, authorities said Thursday. Pacquiao will not have to post a cash bond of 3.3 billion pesos ($75.2 million) and the government is banned from seizing any of his assets while his income tax case is being heard, according to a Supreme Court ruling. The ruling, handed down this week and sent to AFP by court spokesman Theodore Te on Thursday, also ordered the proceedings be carried out more quickly as they began last year and are still in the pre-trial stage. Pacquiao expressed relief at the ruling.


Guide to developments in Missouri police shooting

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Protesters have gathered daily, with some crowds turning violent, since a police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Here's a look at key elements of the shooting and the unrest that followed:


Reformist journalist freed on bail in Iran

An Iranian journalist who covered parliament for pro-reform media has been released on bail almost three months after being detained, her lawyer said on Thursday. Saba Azarpeyk was freed late Wednesday on bail of two billion rials ($65,000), set by prosecutors overseeing crimes related to media and culture, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaie told the official news agency IRNA. She reported on parliament for several pro-reform outlets, including the prominent Etemad newspaper. The BBC's Persian service, Voice of America and the Iranian branch of Radio Free Europe have all been accused by Tehran of participating in a Western "plot" to destabilise the regime.


Thai army chief named prime minister

Thailand's junta-picked national assembly on Thursday chose coup leader General Prayut Chan-O-Cha as prime minister in a one-horse race that entrenched the military's hold on power. "The generals clearly do not plan to restore democracy," said Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch. "Instead of paving the way for a return to democratic civilian rule, the NCPO has granted itself unchecked authority to do almost anything it wants, including committing rights abuses with impunity." Prayut, who is due to retire as army chief in September, is seen as a staunch opponent of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow in an earlier coup in 2006 triggered Thailand's long-running political crisis.


Noodles: Friend or foe? S. Koreans defend diet

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Kim Min-koo has an easy reply to new American research that hits South Korea where it hurts — in the noodles. Drunk and hungry just after dawn, he rips the lid off a bowl of his beloved fast food, wobbling on his feet but still defiant over a report that links instant noodles to health hazards.


Police: Room disagreement preceded Bali killing

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Police investigating an American couple suspected of killing the woman's mother at a resort hotel on Indonesia's Bali island say the three had a disagreement over who was paying for the rooms but that a motive for the crime has not been established.


Holder offers reassurance to people of Ferguson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — To reassure the people of Ferguson, Attorney General Eric Holder reached into his own past, recalling the times he had been stopped by police officers who seemed to target him because of his race.


Burglars target Interpol building in South Africa - again

Thieves have broken into the building that houses Interpol and an elite South African police unit in the capital Pretoria for the second time in three weeks, a spokesman said on Thursday. Two to three people stole laptops from the investigations unit known as the Hawks, presumably over the weekend, according to police spokesman Solomon Makgale. "This time around it's not Interpol, it's the Hawks," he told AFP. "We suspect that the people that have taken these laptops, they're more interested in the laptops than the information contained there," he added.


Pakistan holds talks with opposition protesters

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani officials have held first, "initial" talks with two opposition groups whose supporters have been besieging the parliament for a second day demanding the prime minister resign over alleged election fraud.


Australian, 70, celebrates English Channel swimming record

A 70-year-old Australian grandfather has become the oldest person to swim the English Channel, celebrating his feat by having a couple of beers "for medicinal purposes". Cyril Baldock, from Bondi in Sydney's eastern suburbs, said the beers tasted better than the sea water he swallowed during the record-breaking swim from England to France on Wednesday, which made him "pretty crook", or unwell. Baldock, aged 70 years and nine months, took 12 hours and 45 minutes to swim from Dover to Cap Gris-Nez -- a straight line distance of 34 kilometres (21 miles) -- beating the previous record set by British man Roger Allsopp, who was five months younger, in 2011. "I'm having a couple of beers for medicinal purposes only, to make myself sleep," Baldock told Australian Associated Press after he completed the swim in only a cap, goggles and trunks as Channel swimming rules dictate.


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