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Chinese dream trumps environment as cars sales boom

When accountant Ariel Wang bought a new car a few weeks ago, environmental protection was far from her mind even though smog has reached crisis levels in China's commercial hub Shanghai. She settled on a sturdy sport utility vehicle, the Audi Q5, as the ideal family car for her husband's daily commute to work and transport for her young daughter at the weekends. "We didn't really think about environmental protection, as long as the car's emissions aren't too high," she said. "Look at it this way -- whether we use a car or a taxi, it's the same effect."

Students add Easter twist to dwindling Venezuela protests

By Andrew Cawthorne and Deisy Buitrago CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan students are marching barefoot, building crucifixes and planning to burn effigies of President Nicolas Maduro to try and breathe new life into their protest movement over Easter. The religious-themed demonstrations are the latest tactics in anti-government protests since early February that have convulsed the South American OPEC nation and led to 41 deaths.

'X-men' filmmaker slams 'fabricated' sex attack claims

A lawyer for "X-Men" director Bryan Singer dismissed as "fabricated" and absurd claims Thursday that the filmmaker sexually assaulted a former child model and aspiring teenage actor. The lawyer also pledged to counter-sue the 31-year-old alleged victim, who gave details of his allegations dating from 15 years ago at a Beverly Hills press conference. Flanked by his own attorney, Michael Egan III said the blockbuster director forced him to have sex at parties in California and Hawaii in the late 1990s, when he was 17 years old.

Wal-Mart, seeking to drive customer traffic, enters the money transfer business with a bang

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Wal-Mart is delving deeper into financial services at its stores and shaking up the money transfer business. The world's largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 per cent compared with similar services elsewhere. The Walmart-2-Walmart service is being rolled out in partnership with Ria Money Transfer, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide Inc. Shares of money-transfer companies MoneyGram and Western Union slid Thursday.

Alberta updating law to recognize validity of same-sex marriages

EDMONTON - Alberta will bring in legislation this session to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages, Premier Dave Hancock said Thursday. Hancock said the legislation will change the preamble to the Marriage Act that currently defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman to make it gender neutral. He noted the change is symbolic. The federal government made same-sex marriages legal in 2005. "The Marriage Act is one that is outdated and there have been concerns raised about it," Hancock said.

New York's transit authority cuts deal to end 2-year pay dispute

By Edward Krudy NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) struck a deal on Thursday to end a 2-year pay dispute with a more generous offer to workers than the years of pay freezes it had originally proposed, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The MTA, a state-run agency, had previously insisted on 3 years of pay freezes, but the new deal struck with the help of the governor's office, which is eager to avoid a strike in an election year, offered an 8 percent pay rise over 5 years.

US-INDUSTRY Summary

Disney sees operating income growth at cable networks LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's cable networks are expected to record high single-digit growth in operating income and domestic affiliate revenue from fiscal 2014 through 2016, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told investors on Thursday. "We feel very good about the long-term growth of our cable business," Rasulo said at a meeting for investors at its the company's ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Barnes & Noble chairman cuts stake in company again

Calls for peace at memorial for Kansas shooting victims

By Kevin Murphy and Carey Gillam OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Reuters) - The scene of what authorities say was a hate crime just days ago became the setting for tears, prayers and calls for peace as religious leaders gathered at a Kansas Jewish community center for a service to honor the three people shot dead on Sunday.

Iraqi-American man convicted of killing wife in California

By Marty Graham SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - An Iraqi-American man was found guilty by a San Diego jury on Thursday of bludgeoning his wife to death in a killing that was first investigated as a hate crime because of a threatening note found at the scene. Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was convicted of first-degree murder by the seven-man, five-woman San Diego Superior Court jury after a two-week trial and single day of deliberations. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides: admiral

By Warren Strobel TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Suicides among U.S. special operations forces, including elite Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, are at record levels, a U.S. military official said on Thursday, citing the effects of more than a decade of "hard combat." The number of special operations forces committing suicide has held at record highs for the past two years, said Admiral William McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command.
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