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Some secularists as well as 
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In France, the lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils, with proponents of the law saying such attire is incompatible with the French ideal of women's equality or its secular tradition.

In September, the bill goes to the Senate, where it also is likely to pass, though it could be thrown out by France's constitutional watchdog.

"It is illogical and unreasonable for the French government to do this," al-Garni said, according to Al-Hayat. "Objective non-Muslims have also criticized it because the secular state respects freedom of religion. It should respect religious rituals and rites, including those of Muslims."

Not all Islamic clerics agree that the face veil is an obligation, with some calling it a tradition. But most clerics agree a head scarf is a religious requirement.

Beyond Saudi Arabia, the face veil is quietly spreading in other Arab countries. Some governments, like Egypt and Syria, have taken measures to limit its spread, such as barring it in universities and academic institutions.

Al-Garni's religious guidance, or fatwa, is an advisory opinion and not a law. It is significant because it comes from a Saudi cleric whose writings are widely read. But other clerics in the kingdom did not see eye-to-eye with al-Garni.

Mohammed al-Nujemi, a Saudi professor at the Institute of Judicial and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, said it is best to avoid countries were the ban is enforced.

"The Saudi woman should not go on tourism to non-Muslim countries," he told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television network. "Going to a non-Muslim country without a necessity is not permissible according to the sharia," he said, referring to Islamic law.

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bisexual or transgender


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in 
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The group is among the first gay, bisexual or transgender Lutheran pastors to be reinstated or added to the rolls of the ELCA since the organization voted last year to lift the policy requiring celibacy.

Churches can now hire noncelibate gay clergy who are in committed relationships.

"It's going to be an extremely glorious and festive ceremony because it's the culmination of decades of work to welcome LGBT people into the ELCA," said Amalia Vagts, executive director of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a nonprofit that credentials openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people for ministry.

Megan Rohrer, one of the pastors who will participate in Sunday's rite of reception service, grew up in South Dakota and attended a Lutheran college where she said students tried to exorcise her "gay demons" by throwing holy water on her. Some of those people are now Lutheran pastors in South Dakota, she said.

Rohrer, who is transgender and a lesbian, was ordained by four congregations in San Francisco in 2006, but could not join the ELCA roster until the denomination's national assembly approved the new policy in August.

"I didn't really believe the policy was going to change as quickly as it did," she said.

Rohrer said she is hopeful Sunday's service will be a "symbol" to young people that the Lutheran church is working toward becoming more welcoming of people of all different backgrounds.

Jeff Johnson, another one of the pastors who will be added to the roster, said the ELCA's position for years of not accepting the choice of some congregations to ordain gay clergy was painful and disappointing.

"The actions the church is taking on Sunday affirms the decisions of those congregations," Johnson, pastor of the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, said. "The church is respecting our family, our partners, the choices we're making."

A small number of congregations have voted to leave the ELCA in response to the August vote. Johnson and Rohrer want Sunday's service to heal some of the rifts.

Johnson said the goal, in part, is to show people the church has space for many different opinions.
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Palestinian officials

The force identified the infiltrators, one of  
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The spokesman added that Palestinian officials had agreed to carry out a "joint investigation" into the incident.

Later on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority named the man as Bilal Abu Libdeh from the West Bank city of Qalqilya.

There was no evidence that he had been carrying a weapon at the time he was shot, said PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

"Regardless of the reason for them going there, they shouldn't be killed," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

He also called on the Israeli soldiers to be held responsible for the "illegal and unjustified killings".

Meanwhile, the human rights group Amnesty International has called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and other buildings in the West Bank.

It says the Israeli army has destroyed 74 Palestinian-owned buildings in the Jordan Valley area this week, displacing more than a hundred people, half of whom are children.

Israeli officials said the buildings were in a closed military zone. But Palestinians say Israel has no right to close off parts of the West Bank in this way.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

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part of its territory

The EU is not united on the issue - Spain and Greece are among five of its 27 members to be opposed.

Serbia still regards Kosovo as
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At the start of the deliberations last December, Serbia's representatives argued that the move both challenged its sovereignty and undermined international law.

Kosovo's representatives meanwhile warned that any attempt to reverse its independence might spark further conflict.
'Moment of truth'

Although non-binding, the court's ruling will provide a framework for diplomats to try to establish a working relationship between Serbia and Kosovo.

The dispute remains an obstacle to Serbia's hopes of joining the EU, and has hindered Kosovo's ability to attract foreign investment. Parts of northern Kosovo also remain tensely divided between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, and clashes occasionally erupt.
map

The ruling will also be closely watched by several other countries facing secessionist challenges themselves, such as China and Spain.

"The first and foremost consideration for any democratic government in the world is the preservation of its own sovereignty and territorial integrity," Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told the BBC.

"We do expect that the court is not going to endorse the legality of the unilateral act of secession, because if they do so then no border anywhere in the world where a secessionist ambition is harboured will ever be safe."

During a meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Washington on Wednesday, US Vice-President Joe Biden "reaffirmed the United States' full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo whose future lies firmly within European and Euro-Atlantic institutions", the White House said in a statement.

Mr Biden also "reiterated the United States' firm support for Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity," it added.

A senior US official told reporters that it was confident the ICJ would rule in favour of Kosovo's declaration of independence.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Belgrade says Serbia has called this "the moment of truth", and whatever the outcome it will be historic - the first time the ICJ has ruled on a case of territorial secession.

Since his retirement as archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, as well as his work with the Elders, the cleric has launched his own peace foundation, advised world leaders and played an active role as a public speaker.

Archbishop Tutu spoke at several events during the recent football World Cup in South Africa, which he described as one of the most important events in South Africa since the end of apartheid.

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These near-misses were finally 
Christian Louboutin Slingback, Replica Handbags  converted to victory this May when John Peacock's U17 team beat Spain 2-1 to end a 17-year wait for English success at any level. It was a triumph that probably didn't get the credit it deserved - the country can only deal with one golden generation at a time - as Peacock's players won all 11 of their games going back to qualification, scoring 32 and conceding only six.

Unfortunately, we are probably going to hear 
Christian Louboutin Slingback, Replica Handbags  more about the likes of Ipswich striker Conor Wickham and Chelsea defender Nathanial Chalobah than their clubs and the FA would like over the next year or two, but expectation is part and parcel of being an England player. What's different about this lot is their all-round ability.

"We've had some good groups before," Brooking told me. "But this is the first team we have had when all 10 outfield players could play proper possession football.

"Too often in the past the good teams have been able to identify the weak links in our team, the players who will play the long ball or just give it away under pressure. But this group has quality and depth."

Listening to the former West Ham maestro talk like this about young players is one of the most frustrating aspects of the current debate about England's malaise. We do have decent players and we have got administrators who recognise what is needed to help them flourish: getting them together is the problem.

Brooking, who has been the FA's development chief for seven years, published his most recent plan, the Future Game document, just before the World Cup. His challenge will be to make sure this does more than gather dust in academies and centres of excellence up and down the land.

In it he outlines his belief that English football must close the coaching gap with its main rivals, invest far more in youth development and develop a coherent style of play throughout the academy system. He also raises the pertinent question of where the U17 stars will get their first-team experience.

These issues, and many more, have to be part of the post-World Cup debate.

In the meantime, I intend to enjoy England's attempt to claim a first European U19 title since 1993. It would be a small step towards our stated goal of World Cup glory but a step forward nonetheless. And Germany didn't qualify.

 

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The BBC's Rajesh 
Christian Louboutin Pumps Mirchandani visited the Arctic town of Barrow during a traditional spring whale-hunting festival.

The town of Barrow on Alaska's northernmost 
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Indigenous Eskimos living on the edge of the Arctic Ocean fear new oil drilling could destroy their unique way of life, but many Alaskans believe the Arctic's energy reserves could be economically and politically important. The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani visited the Arctic town of Barrow during a traditional spring whale-hunting festival.

The town of Barrow on Alaska's northernmost tip is one of the most remote places on earth. No roads cross the Arctic tundra to get here, and the nearest city - Fairbanks - is 90 minutes away by air.

It's a place of extremes: in winter it stays dark for more than two months, but now, midnight looks like midday as townsfolk hurl children one by one into the air on a mat made of seal skin.

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Cyrus Ott, who has hopes of 
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While each story is presented as its own entity we see that the individuals are more closely linked then we presume. One common thread throughout this novel is the realization that each of these characters is escaping something, running away from their fears and ambitions. In between each story we are presented with a continuous threaded description about the start of the newspaper and the lives of its founders. This is not to say that the novel is confusing to understand or even comprehend… actually it is the exact opposite. Rachman appropriately presents each character and how they affect the paper yet at the same time he intertwines information about others around them.

One of the most interesting stories is of an up and coming journalist, Winston Cheung, well at least he thinks that he is until he’s confronted with the world around him. Winston is incapable of realizing the ferocity and ambition of the other reporters until he meets the fast talking reporter, Rich Snyder, with hopes of entering Iraq. Suddenly Winston realizes his mistakes and retreats back to his primates where he not only finds solace but protection.

Remember your annoying English teacher, who was obsessed with grammar and improper usage of words and would berate you for every spelling mistake? Well he pales in comparison to Herman Cohen the corrections editor.

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They cause many a sleepless night. In this quest for a post-retirement sinecure, bureaucrats are prepared to break every convention, trample every rule and circumvent all obstacles. Some ensured willy-nilly that the regulatory post in their ministry was vacant till the time they superannuated. But this man is unique. He will retire in December this year. The first thing he did was to approve special privileges for retired secretaries to government in that particular ministry so that they were were given automatic upgrades, facilitation at airports, etc. The precedent cited was that a similar one existed for the ministers. But two wrongs do not make a right. Now other secretaries are examining how they could extract similar advantages from their respective ministries before they hang up their boots. By this reckoning, all retired steel secretaries may be given steel at subsidised rates and all urban development secretaries sanctioned “sarkari” houses/land.Babus are known to throw in their hat at every lucrative slot, even if they don’t fit in.

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