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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Crimea parliament asks to join Russia

Teirgaliev: Crimea is now RussiaMPs in Crimea have asked Moscow to allow the southern Ukrainian region to become part of the Russian Federation.  The parliament said if its request was granted, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on 16 March.

Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the move had no legal grounds.  Crimea, a region whose population is mostly ethnic Russian, has been at the centre of tensions following the fall of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president.

Pro-Russian and Russian forces have been in de facto control of the peninsula for several days.

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Putin: military force would be 'last resort' in Ukraine

Putin softens stancePresident Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defense of Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and reserved the right to use force in Ukraine as a last resort, but he sought to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic.

Russia could use all options to protect compatriots who were living in "terror" in Ukraine, Putin told his first news conference since the crisis began, but force was not needed for now. His comments lifted Russian bond markets after a panic sell-off on Monday.

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Karzai says Afghan war not fought in his country's interest: report

KarzaiExpressing "extreme anger" toward the U.S. government, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview with the Washington Post that the war in Afghanistan was not fought with his country's interests in mind.

"Afghans died in a war that's not ours,' Karzai said in the interview published on Sunday, just a month before an election to pick his successor.

He was quoted as saying he was certain the 12-year-old war, America's longest and launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was "for the U.S. security and for the Western interest."

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Mass ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem against military service

Ultra orthodox protests in IsraelA massive ultra-Orthodox demonstration in Jerusalem today underscored deep opposition to the Israel’s efforts to integrate its fastest-growing community, which has for decades prized religious study over joining the military or the workforce.

“Our service is in Torah – that’s our way,” says Moshe, a 16-year-old yeshiva student with dark side curls, as loudspeakers project deafening prayers by various rabbis. He is one of hundreds of thousands of religious Jews who converged on Jerusalem this afternoon for the event, blocking the city’s main entrance and causing authorities to shut down the main highway to Tel Aviv, the central bus station, and the light rail line.

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Russian troops take over Ukraine's Crimea region

Russian troops in CrimeaRussian troops took over Crimea as the parliament in Moscow gave President Vladimir Putin a green light Saturday to use the military to protect Russian interests in Ukraine. The newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react to the action by Russian troops based in the strategic region and more flown in, aided by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups.

Putin sought and quickly got his parliament's approval to use its military to protect Russia's interests across Ukraine. But while sometimes-violent pro-Russian protests broke out Saturday in a number of Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, Moscow's immediate focus appeared to be Crimea.

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Scotland ready to offer gay Ugandans asylum

Scotland offers gays asylumScotland has proposed a plan to offer asylum to “any Ugandan” persecuted by the country’s new anti-gay laws, Scottish daily The Herald reported on Friday.

Humza Yusuf, Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs, submitted a letter to U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague outlining the proposal and urging him "to offer asylum to any Ugandans who feel threatened or persecuted by the legislation.”

“Scotland will play her part in providing asylum for those seeking refuge from this draconian legislation,” Yusuf wrote.

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Polio vaccination teams attacked by Pakistani militants

Polio workers killedMilitants have attacked a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan, detonating a roadside bomb before opening fire on their convoy.

The attackers killed 12 members of the security escort for the team during the hour-long assault, and when rescuers approached the scene the gunmen also attacked them, according to Khan Faraz, a local official.

Around a dozen wounded were taken to hospital, but others died on the road waiting for help to arrive, he said.

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