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  • Iran slams U.S. justice verdict on Manhattan skyscraper

    Iran on Saturday criticized a U.S. government move to seize a Manhattan skyscraper owned largely by a foundation that promotes its language and Islamic culture, saying this violated the right to religious freedom in the United States. According to a court document filed in New York on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to distribute proceeds from the sale of the Fifth Avenue high-rise to families affected by alleged Iranian-aided attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The settlement marks the latest turn in a long-running battle over the 36-storey building owned chiefly by Alavi Foundation, a non-profit Persian and Islamic cultural center. Iran's foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the decision "lacks legal justification and negates America's commitment to protecting its citizens' religious freedom." "Confiscation of the properties of an independent charity organization raises doubt about the credibility of U.S. justice," she was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

  • Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church
    Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Leaders of a national atheist group say the best spot to find a nonbeliever is in a place of faith.

  • Historic mass in Turkish-held north Cyprus 'like a miracle'
    Historic mass in Turkish-held north Cyprus 'like a miracle'

    Famagusta (Cyprus) (AFP) - With a nighttime procession lit by the glimmer of devotional candles and the flash of smartphone cameras, a church in Turkish-held northern Cyprus hosted its first Easter mass in nearly 60 years. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots crossed the Green Line to attend the ceremony at Famagusta's church of St George Exorinos, in the part of the Mediterranean island occupied by Turkish forces since 1974. Bishop Vassilis, wearing robes embroidered with gold and white and accompanied by a top Muslim cleric from the Turkish Cypriot community, led a tearful ceremony around the gardens of the 14th century church in Famagusta's mediaeval walled city. He fled his hometown as an 18-year-old in 1974, when Turkey seized Cyprus’s northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

  • Baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
    Baby Prince George visits Australian zoo

    Baby Prince George stepped out in public with his parents on Sunday for the first time in Australia, for an encounter with wildlife at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. George, eight months old and third in line to the throne after grandfather Princes Charles and father William, stole the show as his parents toured the harbourfront zoo overlooking the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

  • Larrazabal jumps into water to escape hornets
    Larrazabal jumps into water to escape hornets

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Pablo Larrazabal couldn't believe what was coming his way. He was playing in the second round of the Malaysian Open on Friday when a swarm of hornets "three times the size of bees" began an assault.

  • Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week

    By Matt Siegel and Byron Kaye SYDNEY/PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - The current underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, focused on a tight 10 km (6.2 mile) circle of the sea floor, could be completed within a week, Australian search officials said on Saturday. Malaysia said the search was at a "very critical juncture" and asked for prayers for its success. A U.S. Navy deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is scouring a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean floor for signs of the plane, which disappeared from radars on March 8 with 239 people on board. "Provided the weather is favorable for launch and recovery of the AUV and we have a good run with the serviceability of the AUV, we should complete the search of the focused underwater area in five to seven days," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre told Reuters in an email.

  • Pot of Gold: Innovation Helps Cannabis Industry Flourish
    Pot of Gold: Innovation Helps Cannabis Industry Flourish

    DENVER — The legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado is turning an underground industry into a big business — and ushering in innovations in everything from genetics to growing methods. "Every single day, someone is reinventing the wheel, so to speak," said Scott Reach, a cannabis breeder and owner of the Colorado-based seed company Rare Dankness. This 4/20 weekend, businessmen like Reach will be setting up shop in downtown Denver for the Official 420 Rally, a celebration of all things weed that's expected to be the largest in the city's history. Medicinal use of marijuana has been legal under Colorado state law since 2000, when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution allowing cannabis possession and use with a doctor's order.

  • Special Report: How the U.S. made its Putin problem worse
    Special Report: How the U.S. made its Putin problem worse

    By David Rohde and Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON AND NEW YORK (Reuters) - In September 2001, as the U.S. reeled from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vladimir Putin supported Washington's imminent invasion of Afghanistan in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War. He agreed that U.S. planes carrying humanitarian aid could fly through Russian air space. He said the U.S. military could use airbases in former Soviet republics in Central Asia. And he ordered his generals to brief their U.S. counterparts on their own ill-fated 1980s occupation of Afghanistan.

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