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Kerry commemorates D-Day in French village he calls home

By Lesley Wroughton ST BRIAC-SUR-MER France (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day at his mother's family estate in the French resort of Saint Briac-sur-Mer on Saturday, paying tribute to the American soldiers who died during the liberation of the town in 1944. Later in a speech at the town hall, Kerry credited the courage and kindness of the people of Saint Briac, on the north coast of Brittany, for saving his family's heirlooms from the Nazis during the occupation. Standing on the balcony of the town hall, Kerry was flanked by American photographer Tony Vaccarro, 93, known for his photograph "Kiss of Liberation", which depicts an American soldier kneeling down to kiss a young French girl during the liberation of Saint Briac.


Kerry hopes for steps to ease tensions in Ukraine

SAINT-BRIAC-SUR-MER, France (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he's hoping for steps to ease tensions in Ukraine now that the new president has been sworn in.


Kerry celebrates D-Day at family estate in France

SAINT-BRIAC-SUR-MER, France (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day with a personal touch in the small French seaside town that's home to his family's ancestral estate.

Putin orders guards to reinforce Ukraine border: agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday ordered the border service to reinforce the state border with Ukraine, the Kremlin press service told Russian news agencies. Putin issued the order for border guards to take all necessary measures to prevent illegal crossings, Russian news agencies reported. Kiev said Thursday that it had abandoned three border posts neighbouring Russia in the volatile Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine after attacks by separatists. It has also said that fighters are entering Ukraine frequently from Russia, some having travelled from the North Caucasus region.


Campaigners call for end to 'illegal' corruption court in Senegal

Rights campaigners have called for a special anti-corruption court trying the son of former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade to be disbanded, claiming it violates international law. Karim Wade is due to go on trial on July 31, accused of corruptly acquiring a fortune of $242 million (178 million euros) when he was a "super minister" in his father's cabinet. A group of campaigning organisations including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Senegalese League of Human Rights (LSDH) released a statement late Friday claiming the court did not conform with international legal standards. "Fighting against corruption and illicit enrichment is legitimate but the (court) allows no possibility of appeal, and its rules and procedures reverse the burden of proof," Assane Dioma Ndiaye, president of the LSDH, said in the statement.


Poroshenko: from chocolate baron to Ukraine president

Petro Poroshenko, who was sworn in as president of Ukraine on Saturday, is a billionaire chocolate baron whose revolutionary zeal turned him into a political comet. The pro-Western tycoon won an outright victory in a presidential election late last month with 54.7 percent of the votes -- a powerful mandate no one would have predicted just a year ago. The emphatic victory was a much-needed boost for Poroshenko who takes the reins in the midst of the worst crisis between East and West since the end of the Cold War. "It is time for irreversible, positive change," he said after taking the oath of office in the Ukrainian parliament.


Americans split on prisoner swap of Taliban for U.S. soldier

By David Alexander and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are deeply divided over whether the Obama administration did the right thing by swapping five Taliban leaders to win the freedom of Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, according to Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday. Americans strongly agree the United States should make every effort to free prisoners of war like Bergdahl, an Army Sergeant who was captured in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 958 Americans interviewed online found that 44 percent disagreed with the statement that trading Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl was "the right thing to do," with 26 percent of them strongly disagreeing. Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan last Saturday after the Obama administration agreed to send five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison to Qatar, where they must remain for a year.


Jihadists seize hostages at university in Iraq's Ramadi

Ramadi (Iraq) (AFP) - Jihadists took staff and students hostage on Saturday at a university campus in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, where security forces have battled anti-government fighters for months, police said. The attack is the third major operation by militants in three days, following heavy fighting and suicide bombings in northern Iraq on Friday and a major assault on the city of Samarra on Thursday. The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group infiltrated the university from the nearby Al-Tasha area, killed its guards, and blew up the bridge leading to its main gate, police said. An AFP journalist said that security forces have cordoned off the campus.


Obama promotes college debt refinancing bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama used the college commencement season Saturday to get behind Senate Democratic legislation that would let college graduates with heavy debts refinance their loans.


Miss. Senate race: McDaniel's school plan targeted

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Establishment Republicans backing Sen. Thad Cochran launched a campaign to brand GOP challenger Chris McDaniel a candidate who would deeply cut federal education dollars on which Mississippi schools rely. The six-term senator, they said, would protect money for students and teachers.


The Bergdahl rescue: What's known and not known

WASHINGTON (AP) — That feel-good moment in the Rose Garden seems like a long time ago. Just a week after the president announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been freed in Afghanistan, details emerging about the soldier, the deal and how the rescue came together are only adding to the list of questions.


Everything’s Coming Up Rosés

Don’t dismiss the pink stuff because of its bad old days. How to find the best quality for your sunny-day pleasure.


Bergdahl swap a flashpoint of rival charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans and Democrats who initially praised the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after his five years in captivity quickly scrubbed their welcoming tweets amid questions about whether the Army soldier was a deserter and an outcry over the exchange of five Taliban officials for his freedom.


After 2014, no more NATO medevacs for wounded Afghans

Forward Operating Base Shank (Afghanistan) (AFP) - The American troops gingerly lifted the wounded Afghan out of the ambulance on the dark runway, carrying him in a stretcher up the ramp of the cargo plane. The evacuation -- ordered at a moment's notice -- is a routine event for US-led forces in Afghanistan. The vast majority of the 51,000 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are leaving Afghanistan by the end of the year, and they are taking most of their aviation medical squadrons with them. The emergency evacuations are in high demand amid a dramatic rise in casualties among Afghan security forces.


Ukraine readies for new president amid glimmers of hope

Ukraine will swear in its new president Saturday, amid glimmers of hope for a solution to a crisis that has pitted it against its giant Russian neighbour. Ukraine's new leader, Petro Poroshenko, will take the oath in Kiev's parliament the day after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, widely seen in Ukraine as the country's nemesis, during World War II commemorations in northern France. "The dialogue has begun, and that's a good thing," Poroshenko said on Ukrainian television after the brief encounter. He added that a Russian representative would travel to Ukraine for talks Sunday amid the first bilateral steps towards resolving their differences.


Wary US unlikely to restore full Egypt aid soon

As Egypt prepares to swear in its fourth leader since 2011, a huge slice of $1.5 billion in US aid remains in deep-freeze amid fears the nation is sliding back into authoritarianism. Former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be crowned as the next president on Sunday after three years of political turmoil since the ousting of long-time iron-fisted leader Hosni Mubarak. But far from welcoming Sisi as a step toward stability, some analysts are urging Washington to re-think its decades-old, military-based aid program amid concerns over human rights abuses and a crackdown on civil liberties. In a sign of Washington's unease, no senior US cabinet members will be attending the inauguration, with State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon asked to lead the delegation.


Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin ban on gay marriage

By Brendan O'Brien MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A federal judge deemed Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Friday to the delight of gay couples who immediately began rushing to county offices to wed as word of the ruling spread. The ruling marked the latest in a string of decisions by federal judges who have struck down gay marriage bans in a number of states, although the Wisconsin ruling sparked some confusion over whether such marriages could now legally go ahead. Clerks in two counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday night, and in response Wisconsin's attorney general filed an emergency motion asking the judge to stay her ruling. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which Wisconsin adopted in 2006, violates gay couples' fundamental right to marry and their equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Who Should Be the Next Indiana Jones?

Star Wars isn’t the only celebrated franchise getting the Disney reboot treatment. With rumors that the Twilight star is being eyed to don the hat and whip, it begs the question: who should play everyone’s favorite adventurer-archaeologist?


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