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US to send 'non-lethal' military aid to Ukraine

The United States will send helmets, medical supplies and other non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine amid fears of another Russian incursion there, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said he had informed Kiev that President Barack Obama "has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies."

Supreme Court to hear three people-smuggling cases, including Sun Sea appeals

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals in cases where people were denied refugee status because they were allegedly involved in people smuggling. Two of the cases involve an individual and a couple who were aboard the MV Sun Sea, which carried 492 Sri Lankan nationals to Canada in 2010. The arrival of two ships off the British Columbia coast led the Harper government to enact its so-called human smuggling law to discourage a repeat of the dramatic incidents.

Guinea-Bissau presidential favourite to pursue dialogue with army

The favourite in Guinea-Bissau's presidential election run-off said on Thursday he wants to pursue "ongoing dialogue" with the all-powerful army as the west African nation seeks to recover from a two-year-old coup. Jose Mario Vaz won Sunday's first-round election, which aims to turn the page on years of instability and military violence, but didn't get an outright majority and will face army-backed runner-up Nuno Gomes Nabiam in a second round on May 18.

And then there was one: Newfoundland Tory leadership candidate drops out

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A contender in the race to become leader of Newfoundland and Labrador's Progressive Conservative party dropped out Thursday, likely clearing the way for a coronation of the one remaining candidate. Bill Barry issued an early morning statement that outlined his reasons for abandoning the bid and returning to private business, saying he made the decision after what he described as serious personal reflection. Barry said he did not receive support from any caucus members, making him feel he was playing against a "stacked deck" with a preordained outcome.

U.S. justices decline case of photo company, gay couple

(This April 7 story was corrected to remove reference to "gay marriage" and replace with "gay couple" in the headline) By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether a New Mexico photography company had free speech grounds to refuse to shoot the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple.

Turkish ruling party wants Erdogan presidential bid: officials

By Orhan Coskun ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's ruling party would overwhelmingly back Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's candidacy in the nation's first direct presidential election, senior officials said on Thursday, a move his opponents fear would feed his autocratic instincts. The president has until now been chosen by parliament and played a largely ceremonial role, but Erdogan has said the popular vote will bestow the post with more authority and has vowed to exercise its full powers if elected.

Anti-gay demo in Ethiopia cancelled

Anti-gay activists in Ethiopia said Thursday they have been forced to abandon plans to demonstrate in the capital after apparently failing to win support from the government and the powerful Orthodox church. The anti-homosexuality rally had been planned for April 26, and comes amid a trend of increasing stigmatisation of homosexuals across the continent -- with Uganda and Nigeria recently adopting tough anti-gay legislation.

Algeria's Bouteflika votes in wheelchair for 4th term

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seeking a fourth presidential term, cast his ballot from a wheelchair Thursday as Algerians voted in an election he is widely expected to win despite chronic health problems. In his first public appearance in two years, a smiling Bouteflika arrived at a polling station in El Biar district of Algiers and waved but made no comment to reporters covering an election tainted by fraud warnings and boycott calls.

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress want laws to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Republicans, who hold the majority in the House of Representatives, have blocked all legislative efforts since 2011.

Death toll rises to 18 in ferry sinking

JINDO/SEOUL, South Korea, April 17 (Yonhap) -- Rescuers fought rising winds and waves on Thursday as they searched for hundreds of people believed to be still trapped inside a ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast a day earlier. Navy and Coast Guard divers tried to enter the capsized ship more than 10 times, hoping for a response from nearly 300 people, mostly high school students, but were hampered by poor underwater visibility and strong currents.
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