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Ukraine's 'Iron lady' Tymoshenko: Bruised but Unbowed

Glamorous revolutionary or calculating and corrupt? From the podium to prison and back again, Ukraine's ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko is a polarizing political figure whose steely ambition has not been swayed by the scandals that have dogged her career.

Fresh from three years in prison, the highly-divisive Tymoshenko hopes to rise again following the ouster of the man who jailed her, Viktor Yanukovych, and finally secure the presidential office for herself.

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Turkey Frees 45 Pending Trial over Kurdish Rebel Ties

A Turkish court has freed 45 people, including eight journalists, accused of ties to outlawed Kurdish rebels after more than two years of pre-trial custody, local media said Thursday.

They were arrested in late 2011 in a crackdown on the banned Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), accused of being the political wing of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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U.N. Rejects Russian Annexation of Crimea

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday adopted a Western-backed resolution declaring Crimea's breakaway referendum illegitimate and refusing to recognize Russia's annexation of the peninsula.

The non-binding measure passed with a comfortable majority in the 193-member body, with 100 votes in favor and 11 votes against. But 58 abstained and more than 20 did not vote.

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Turkey Bans YouTube after Syria Security Talk Leaked

Turkey banned YouTube on Thursday after the video-sharing website was used to spread damaging leaked audio files from a state security meeting debating possible military action in Syria.

The recording purports to be of senior Turkish government, military and spy officials discussing plans to stage an armed clash in Syria or a missile attack that would serve as a pretext for a military response.

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Obama Meets 'Inspiration' Pope, Both Agree to Combat Human Trafficking

Pope Francis on Thursday defended the Catholic Church's anti-abortion stance and discussed immigration reform at a historic first meeting with President Barack Obama, whose health law has incensed Catholic leaders.

The Vatican said the two sides had discussed "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection", foiling White House hopes of public Vatican support for Obama's anti-poverty agenda.

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Bins Burned, Street Protests in Spain Student Strike

Protesters set up burning barricades at a top Spanish university and thousands demonstrated across the country on Thursday in a strike against education reforms that has seen scores of arrests.

A police spokeswoman told Agence France Presse that officers arrested one person on Thursday morning "for possession of flammable material" after bins were burned at Madrid's Complutense university campus.

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Obama Says Plan Will End NSA Bulk Data Sweep

President Barack Obama put forward a plan Thursday to end bulk collection of telephone records, aiming to defuse a controversy over the government's sweeping surveillance activities on millions of Americans.

In measures taken in response to a global outcry over the National Security Agency's eavesdropping programs, Obama said telephone companies would be required to hold data for the same length of time they currently do, while allowing government agencies to access it with court approval.

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Death Sentence for Christian in Pakistan Blasphemy Riot Case

A court in Pakistan sentenced a Christian man to death for blasphemy Thursday, his lawyer said, over an incident that triggered a riot in the country's second-largest city.

Sawan Masih was convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammed during the course of a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighborhood of Lahore in March last year.

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U.N. Rights Council Launches Sri Lanka War Crimes Probe, President Objects

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday launched an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, a move angrily rejected by Colombo as counter-productive.

In a 23-12 vote, the council backed a Western-sponsored resolution saying it was time for a "comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka".

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Catalans Keep Up Pressure for Vote to Split from Spain

Student Marc Cots believes Catalans want an independence referendum so badly, they would turn out to vote even if Spain sent tanks to the region to stop them.

"We have to vote. If they want, on the day of the referendum they can bring tanks to Catalonia but we are going to vote all the same," said the 20-year-old after signing a petition in central Barcelona in favor of the referendum.

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