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NEWS|Current Affairs 
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President Barack Obama sent Russia a clear message about its treatment of gays and lesbians with who he is - and isn't - sending to represent the United States at the Sochi Olympics. Billie Jean King will be one of two openly gay athletes in the US delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies, Obama announced Tuesday. For the first time since 2000, however, the US will not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Games. Russia has come under fierce criticism for passing national laws banning "gay propaganda." Though the White House did not specifically address the Russian laws in making its announcement, spokesman Shin Inouye said the delegation "represents the diversity that is the United States" and that Obama "knows they will showcase to the world the best of America - diversity, determination and teamwork." The White House said Obama's schedule will not permit him to attend the Games. "It's a positive sign to see openly gay representatives in the delegation," said Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, which recently sent a letter urging Obama to include gays and lesbians in the delegation. "Hopefully it sends a message to the Russian people and the rest of the world that the United States values the civil and human rights of LGBT people." King said she was "deeply honored" to be named to the delegation. "I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people," said King, who will attend the opening ceremony. Hockey player Caitlin Cahow is the other openly gay representative to the delegation. She'll attend the closing ceremony. The US Olympic Committee made no comment about the sexual orientation of the delegation. In a nod to its disapproval of the law, however, the USOC recently revised its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation. France and Germany are among the other countries who will not send their presidents to Sochi for the Games. Earlier this year, Obama rejected the idea of a US boycott of the Olympics despite a number of differences with Russia, including the anti-gay law. This move, however, sends a strong signal: In 2010, Vice President Joe Biden led the delegation, and in 2012, first lady Michelle Obama held the honor. This year's group is led by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Others in the delegation include US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, figure skater Brian Boitano and presidential adviser Rob Nabors. King, the iconic tennis player, might be the most recognizable face in the group. She's a 39-time Grand Slam title winner (singles, doubles and mixed), a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and one of the most prominent advocates of equality for women in sports and society over the past several decades. She'll attend the Olympics in a country that is creating tension for several key players because of the laws, including the International Olympic Committee, which awarded the Games to Russia. Earlier this month, IOC President Thomas Bach said Russia would set up public protest zones in Sochi for "people who want to express their opinion or want to demonstrate for or against something." Meanwhile, the IOC approved a letter going out to athletes reminding them to refrain from protests or political gestures during the Sochi Games - reiterating Rule 50 of the Olympic charter, which forbids demonstrations on Olympic grounds. Bach had previously said he'd received assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin that gays will not be discriminated against in Sochi. But the Russian law has raised questions about what could happen to athletes who wear pins or badges or carry flags supporting gay rights. Earlier this fall, skier Bode Miller was one of the few American athletes to speak out against the Russian law, calling it "absolutely embarrassing."

Islamic State video purports to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff

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Islamic State video purports to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff

Beirut: Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as US airst...


Saudi Arabia says it arrests 88 for preparing "terrorist" raids

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Saudi Arabia says it arrests 88 for preparing "terrorist" raids

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has detained 88 people, more than half of them Saudis, on suspicion of plotting "terrorist" attacks at home and abroad, the interior ministry said on Tuesday....

Ukraine rebels say they are poised to recapture Donetsk airport

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Ukraine rebels say they are poised to recapture Donetsk airport

BRUSSELS/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - EU officials proposed sanctions on Tuesday to starve Russian firms of cash as punishment for Moscow's role in Ukraine, where rebels said they were storming Donetsk...

EU proposes tough sanctions on Moscow as Ukraine rebels advance

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EU proposes tough sanctions on Moscow as Ukraine rebels advance

BRUSSELS/KIEV (Reuters) - European officials proposed sweeping new sanctions on Tuesday to starve Russia's companies of capital and technology as punishment for Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, where...

Islamic State group may have beheaded another US journalist

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Islamic State group may have beheaded another US journalist

Beirut: An Internet video purports to show the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in...

Madras HC exempts Nithyananda personal appearance in court

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Madras HC exempts Nithyananda personal appearance in court

Chennai: The Madras High Court today exempted self-styled godman Nithyananda from a personal appearance before a court in Coimbatore.Justice KBK Vasuki, who passed the order on a petition filed by Nit...

Pakistan should improve internal situation, says Omar Abdullah

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Pakistan should improve internal situation, says Omar Abdullah

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today hit out at Pakistan saying it should try toimprove its internal situation rather than resort to firing and shelling villages here."Thei...