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Summer livin' is easy, but doesn't come cheap anymore

By Lou Carlozo CHICAGO (Reuters) - As a Brooklyn-based architect, James Schaefer works on properties with some very high-end patios - think in the $100,000 range - which, of course, gets him thinking about his own. His own scale is a little lower, about "$25,000 to get a start at it," Schaefer says.

Starbucks adds digital tipping that lets customers give 50 cents, $1 or $2

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app, which raises the question — how often do people tip their baristas? The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option, which it announced more than a year ago, will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. The rollout comes as the company's app has surged in popularity, with roughly one out of every 10 purchases now made with a mobile device.

EU lawmakers 'forcefully' condemn crackdown on gay communities

The European Parliament on Thursday "forcefully condemned" laws in nearly 80 countries which criminalise or otherwise discriminate against homosexual men and women. Some "78 countries consider consensual same-sex relations as a crime," European lawmakers said in a resolution, highlighting the fact that in several nations, such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, it carries a possible death penalty. The resolution called on these countries to change the law and in particular urged Nigeria and Uganda to do so after they adopted repressive legislation recently.

U.N. chief Ban fears Nigeria anti-gay law will fuel violence

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern on Wednesday at a new Nigerian law that criminalizes same-sex relationships, which he fears could fuel prejudice and violence and risks obstructing an effective HIV/AIDS response. The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex "amorous relationships" and membership of gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May and signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday.

Holiday gifts help exercisers heat it up and cool it down

By Dorene Internicola NEW YORK (Reuters) - From sophisticated activity trackers and chest-mounted cameras to massage rollers and yoga toes, fitness experts say gifts for people trying to get in shape or stay that way include everything from high-tech toys to basic workout gear. Marathoners, yoga instructors and other health and fitness pros say there is something for everyone hoping to rev up a workout, or trying to cool it down.

Strong is the new sexy in workouts for women

By Dorene Internicola NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women's fitness has come a long way since skinny defined the ideal body and a muscled arm was cause for alarm. Fitness experts say as strong becomes the new sexy the gender divide has narrowed, if not closed. From resistance training to power workouts such as barbell squats, medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings, a rigorous regime has become more popular with women.

Popemobile, barbecue grill compete in Argentine "crazy cars" race

Buenos Aires, Nov 11 (EFE).- A popemobile, a grill barbecuing meat, a flying carpet, a Chinese dragon and a huge wine bottle made of corks were some of the "crazy cars" competing in a madcap race through downtown Buenos Aires. Before thousands of curiosity seekers, some 40 homemade, motorless vehicles took part in the first Red Bull Soapbox Race in Argentina in hopes of grabbing the sought-after prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Court hears details of man's mental state before 2007 murders in Halifax

HALIFAX - In the weeks before Glen Race murdered two Halifax men in 2007, he wasn't taking medication to treat his schizophrenia and he was showing signs of psychiatric distress by practising odd rituals aimed at keeping "demons and vampires" at bay, says an agreed statement of facts presented in court Monday.

EU lawmakers to vote on data protection laws, foreseeing fines and limits data transfers to US

BRUSSELS - European Union lawmakers on Monday were set to hold a first vote on sweeping new data protection rules to strengthen online privacy and outlaw most data transfers to other countries' authorities to prevent spying. The draft regulation was beefed up after Edward Snowden's leaks about allegedly widespread U.S. online snooping, including stringent privacy protection and stiff fines for violations. The legislation is poised to have significant implications for U.S. internet companies too.

'Come sleep with the sharks!' Ripley's Aquarium opens in Toronto

TORONTO - Visitors to Toronto may not be able to swim with the sharks on Bay Street but they'll have an up-close view of the ocean predators in a new indoor aquarium. After two years of construction, delays and $130 million in costs, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday. The aquarium, billed as the country's largest, is home to more than 13,000 aquatic animals and 450 different species held in nearly six million litres of water. More than 10,000 tickets to the downtown facility have already been sold online.
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