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Jihadists seize key Syria town on Iraq border: monitor

The jihadist Islamic State (IS) took control of the key Syrian border town of Albu Kamal on Tuesday after a fierce three-day battle with rival fighters, a monitor said. A spokesman for rebels fighting IS as well as President Bashar al-Assad's regime said the jihadists took over the town after pouring in reinforcements from neighbouring Iraq, where they have seized chunks of territory in a swift offensive. The takeover comes two days after IS declared a "caliphate" in territory they seized in both Syria and Iraq, and ordered the world's Muslims to obey its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


Justices act in other health law mandate cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

Justices to take up pregnancy discrimination case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will take up the pregnancy discrimination claims of a package delivery driver for UPS who was refused a light duty assignment so she could continue working while pregnant.

High court to hear natural gas price-fixing claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider whether a group of energy companies can be sued under state antitrust laws for illegally manipulating natural gas prices more than a decade ago during California's energy crisis.

Supreme Court to consider KBR whistleblower case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider whether a whistleblower can move forward with a lawsuit claiming defense contracting giant KBR Inc. falsely billed the government for work in Iraq.

Afghan election result delayed as fraud dispute deepens

Afghanistan's presidential election result has been delayed for several days, officials said Tuesday, as a dispute over alleged fraud threatens to derail the country's first democratic transfer of power. Abdullah Abdullah, previously seen as the poll front-runner, has said he would reject the result due to "blatant fraud", while his poll rival Ashraf Ghani said the election was clean and claimed victory by more than one million votes.


German Socialist Martin Schulz elected new EU parliament president

German Social-Democrat Martin Schulz was elected on Tuesday to head the European Parliament in the first session since elections in May. Schulz, outgoing president of the last European Parliament, won 409 votes for and 314 against or blank ballots, in a session that was marred by eurosceptic opposition. "Great honour and responsibility to be the voice of the Parliament of EU citizens," Schulz tweeted.


Bomb blast wounds six Tunisa security force members

Six members of the Tunisian security forces were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded Tuesday in the mountainous Kef region near the Algerian border, the interior ministry said. "A roadside bomb exploded as a military vehicle passed by, wounding four soldiers and two members of the National Guard," it said. At the time, the security forces were combing the mountains in the provinces of Kef and neighbouring Jendouba "where the remnants of a terrorist group is holed up," the ministry added. Since late 2012, security forces have been battling jihadists hiding out in the remote western region.


Mass strike threatens to cripple S. Africa engineering sector

Nearly a quarter of a million members of South Africa's largest union downed tools on Tuesday, beginning an indefinite strike that threatens to bring the engineering sector to a halt. Members of the National Union of Metalworkers marched in cities across the country, demanding a pay raise of up to 12 percent and better working conditions. In Johannesburg city centre, thousands of workers clad in red waved sticks and branches from tree branches as they marched to the offices of an industry federation to hand in their demands. The strike comes as yet another blow to South Africa's beleaguered economy, which contracted in the first quarter after a five-month platinum strike that was resolved only last week.


Pennsylvania governor won’t sign budget over lack of pension reform

By By David DeKok HARRISBURG Penn. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said on Monday that he would not for the moment sign a $29.1 billion budget enacted by the legislature because lawmakers had failed to include pension reform. Corbett, a Republican with sagging poll ratings who is up for re-election this year, wants to push new state employees onto a so-called "hybrid" pension plan.


Saudi pledges $500 mn in humanitarian aid for Iraq

Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq on Tuesday, to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported. King Abdullah "has ordered $500 million in humanitarian aid to the brotherly people of Iraq affected by the painful events, including the displaced, regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity," a foreign ministry spokesman told the official SPA news agency. The United Nations says 1.2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by violence this year, hundreds of thousands of them by a three-week-old Sunni militant offensive that has swept up a swathe of territory north of Baghdad. Sunni Saudi Arabia has deeply strained relations with Iraq's Shiite-led government.


Bomb hidden in truck kills at least 15 in embattled Nigerian city

A truck exploded in a huge fireball killing at least 15 people on Tuesday in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the latest attack in a city repeatedly hit by Boko Haram Islamists. The bomb rocked Maiduguri's largest roundabout near the crowded Monday Market where elderly women line the road selling peanuts and kola nuts as snacks to morning commuters. An AFP reporter said elderly women and poor children who beg at the roundabout were among the casualties. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, blame was likely to fall on Boko Haram, which was founded in Maiduguri more than a decade ago and has killed thousands during a five-year uprising.


Bomb blast wounds six Tunisan security force members

Six members of the Tunisian security forces were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded Tuesday in the mountainous Kef region near the Algerian border, the interior ministry said. "A roadside bomb exploded as a military vehicle passed by, wounding four soldiers and two members of the National Guard," it said. At the time, the security forces were combing the mountains in the provinces of Kef and neighbouring Jendouba "where the remnants of a terrorist group is holed up," the ministry added. Since late 2012, security forces have been battling jihadists hiding out in the remote western region.


Seven more members of Sudan opposition party 'detained'

Sudanese state security agents have arrested seven more members of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, following its leader's detention last month, a senior party official said on Tuesday. "One of our members was arrested early today in Khartoum," the party's secretary general Abdelqayum Awad told AFP. The top leader of Sudanese Congress, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, was arrested at his home in En Nahud on June 8. The RSF have denied accusations that they attacked villages in Sudan's Darfur region.


European rights court upholds French burqa ban

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday upheld France's controversial burqa ban, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breaches religious freedom. Two of the 17 judges who spent several months deliberating on the case dissented from the majority view that the ban did not breach the European Convention on Human Rights' provisions protecting the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The university graduate, who has family in Birmingham, England, had requested anonymity for fear of reprisals in France over her action.


Somali Shebab claim attacks, vow more Ramadan violence

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in the capital Mogadishu and warned that violence will intensify during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. "Mujahedeen fighters carried out operations inside Mogadishu killing several of the apostate government soldiers," Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP on Tuesday. Five blasts were reported on Monday, including a roadside bomb that killed at least two people when it ripped through a market busy with shoppers buying food to celebrate the breaking of the Ramadan fast with their families at sunset. A car bomb later killed a government official, while three other blasts at checkpoints killed at least one soldier.


Iraqi Kurds to vote on independence in months: leader

Iraq's Kurds will hold an independence referendum within months, their leader Massud Barzani said on Tuesday, as the region reels under a brutal offensive by Sunni jihadists who have declared an Islamic caliphate. Barzani said the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively partitioned following the lightning gains by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Asked whether the vote would take place soon, Barzani added: "I can't fix a date right now but definitely it's a question of months.


Obama says to reform immigration on his own, bypassing Congress

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he would take executive action to revamp the U.S. immigration system and move additional resources to protect the border after hopes of passing broad reform legislation in Congress officially died. Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law. The collapse of the legislative process delivers another in a series of blows to Obama's domestic policy agenda and comes as he struggles to deal with a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have entered the United States. Obama chided Republicans for refusing to bring immigration reform to a vote and said only legislation could provide a permanent fix to the problem.


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