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US weighs refugee status for youth from Honduras

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, is seen with Guatemalan President Otto Molina, right, and Honduran President Juan Hernández on Thursday, July 24, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Obama administration is weighing giving refugee status to young people from Honduras as part of a plan to slow the influx of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, White House officials said Thursday. The plan would involve screening youths in Honduras, one of the world's most violent nations, to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke) WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is considering giving refugee status to young people from Honduras as part of a plan to slow the influx of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, White House officials said Thursday.

The un-Armstrong? Tour 'boss' Nibali wins Stage 18

Stage winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy climbs towards Hautacam after breaking away from his rivals during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 145.5 kilometers (90.4 miles) with start in Pau and finish in Hautacam, Pyrenees region, France, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) ARGELES-GAZOST, France (AP) — As his team hoped, Vincenzo Nibali demonstrated he's the "boss" of the Tour de France. Just don't compare him to the last rider to regularly bear that sobriquet at cycling's greatest race, Lance Armstrong.

Health, agriculture key to Africa's development: Bill Gates

Bill Gates, co-cfounder of the Microsoft company and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leaves the Hotel Matignon after a meeting with the French Prime Minister in Paris, on June 27, 2014 Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. "By getting things right in these two areas, the gains can be exceptional," Gates said, calling health and agriculture "enabling factors for all the other things that need to be done." "This Boko Haram disruption is the one real cloud on the horizon, where it means there are groups of children that we're not able to get to," he told reporters after receiving his award. Gates -- the world's richest man -- and his wife are the co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which tackles health and poverty in Africa.

Visa cuts revenue forecast as cross-border transactions slow

A Visa logo is seen during the International CTIA WIRELESS Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana Visa Inc, the world's largest credit and debit card company, cut its revenue forecast for the year, as growth in cross-border transactions slowed amid a strengthening of the U.S. dollar. Visa, which gets about 60 percent of its total transaction volume from outside the United States, cut its full-year revenue growth forecast to 9-10 percent from 10-11 percent. International transaction revenue rose less than 1 percent to $854 million in the latest quarter. Wedbush Securities Inc analyst Gil Luria said Visa's international transaction revenues was growing at the lowest rate since the financial crisis.

Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

A forensic team recovers human remains among the wreckage of crashed TransAsia Airways flight GE222 on the outlying island of Penghu, Taiwan, Thursday, July 24, 2014. Stormy weather on the trailing edge of Typhoon Matmo was the likely cause of the plane crash that killed more than 40 people, the airline said. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents. (AP Photo/Wally Santana) WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel's largest airport after rocket attacks. An airliner crashes during a storm, and yet another disappears. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

Reporter among 3 Americans believed held by Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three Americans, including a reporter for The Washington Post, appear to have been detained in Iran, the newspaper said Thursday.

Top Asian News at 10:30 p.m. GMT

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — Eighteen children were killed Thursday when a train crashed into their school bus at an unmanned railroad crossing in southern India, police said. The bus driver also died while another 20 children ages 7 to 14 were injured and hospitalized, 15 of them in critical condition, said Telangana state education minister G. Jagdishwar Reddy.

Argentina, holdouts meet in debt dispute with court appointee

Argentina's Finance Secretary Pablo Lopez arrives for debt negotiation talks with court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack in New York By Daniel Bases NEW YORK (Reuters) - Representatives for holdout investors and Argentina in the country's ongoing debt default met for about three hours with a court-appointed mediator in New York on Thursday, less than a week before Argentina could once again default. Several members of Argentina's delegation left the Manhattan office of special appointee Daniel Pollack around 3:30 p.m. EDT but declined to comment on the talks. Edward Friedman, a lawyer for Aurelius Capital Management, one of two leading holdouts, emerged shortly after, also without commenting. Argentina faces its second default in 12 years if it fails to cut a deal with the hedge funds demanding full payment, instead of a reduced amount, for defaulted bonds.

Burkina official: Plane wreckage found in Mali

An arrival information screen shows the delayed Air Algerie flight 5017 (top) at the Houari Boumediene airport near Algiers, Algeria, Thursday, July 24, 2014. An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali and "probably crashed" according to the plane's owner and government officials in France and Burkina Faso. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub) OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso (AP) — The wreckage of the Air Algeria plane that went missing Thursday has been found about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border of Burkina Faso near the village of Boulikessi in Mali, a presidential aide said.

Reuven Rivlin: the affable face of Israel's far right

Incoming Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gestures during a ceremony at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on July 24, 2014 Reuven Rivlin, who was sworn in on Thursday as Israel's 10th president, is a far-right hawk with a quirky sense of humour who is known as the guard-dog of democracy. Popular and affable, 74-year-old "Ruby" Rivlin was a veteran member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party and a former parliament speaker. He has made no secret of his vision of a Greater Israel encompassing all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. "Rivlin won't be the State of Israel's president, but Greater Israel's president," wrote commentator Ari Shavit in Haaretz newspaper about the largely ceremonial post.

Key senator urges Myanmar to reform constitution

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate has issued a strong call for Myanmar to amend its constitution to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president and for the military to submit to civilian rule.

6 to stand trial in group home case in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican judge has ordered six employees of a group home raided amid charges of abuse and filthy conditions to stand trial.

Rival Libyan militias clash in Tripoli, Benghazi

Smoke rises near oil tanks after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli By Patrick Markey and Aziz El Yaakoubi TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Heavy black smoke rose over southern Tripoli on Thursday after rival militias exchanged artillery and rocket fire in a battle over the Libyan capital's airport that has killed around 50 people in nearly a fortnight of fighting. Sporadic blasts echoed across the city since the morning in clashes that have deepened fears of post-war Libya becoming a failed state, with a fragile government unable to control heavily armed brigades battling for power. Fighting in the capital and the eastern city of Benghazi, its heaviest since the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, has led most international flights to Libya to be canceled and has prompted the United States to pull out embassy staff. Underscoring Libya's chaos, acting Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Thursday that he was prevented by militias from flying from an airport outside Tripoli.

Obama: Plane stiffens Europe's spine on sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine "may stiffen the spine of our European partners" as they consider additional sanctions against Russia.

At least 15 killed by shelling of Gaza school; toll exceeds 760

A Palestinian mother comforts her child in a hospital a few hundred meters from where medics said Israeli shelling hit a U.N-run school sheltering Palestinian refugees, in Beit Hanoun the northern Gaza Strip United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his horror at the attack on the school at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza strip. I strongly condemn this act." Ban later arrived to Cairo where he was expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been working the telephones to try to broker an elusive truce. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said there was a chance the school had been hit by stray Hamas rockets. "It could be errant fire from the IDF or rockets landing from Gaza terrorists but we still don't know, there's still a question mark," he told Reuters TV.

Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

People watch a convoy of hearses bearing the remains of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, as it makes its way along a highway near Boxtel, Netherlands, Thursday, July 24, 2014. The second flight of two military aircraft carrying remains of victims arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday. The bodies are to be taken to a military barracks in Hilversum, where a team of 25 forensic experts and dozens of support staff began working to identify remains Wednesday evening after coffins of the first flight arrived. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis) KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Obama: US agency acted prudently on Israel flights

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the Federal Aviation Administration took "prudent action" in temporarily banning U.S. flights in and out of Israel.

Wreckage of Air Algerie flight found south of Malian town of Gao: state tv

The wreckage of an Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crewmembers has been found south of the Malian town of Gao close to the border with Burkina Faso, Malian state television said on Thursday. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was due to visit the site of the crash on Friday, state television said. A foreign diplomat and a local official in the nearby town of Gossi confirmed that the wreckage of flight AH5017, which was flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers, had been found.

U.N. school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside, Palestinian officials said, as Israel pressed forward with its 17-day war against the territory's Hamas rulers.

Aussies bury London misery in record-breaking style

L-R: Gold medallists Australia's Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell and Melanie Schlanger pose during the Women's 4x100m Freestyle Relay medals ceremony during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on July 24, 2014 Australia's swimmers buried their 2012 Olympics flop by claiming two world records on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games which brought only misery for superstars Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah. Their women's 4x100m freestyle relay squad set a new world record of 3min 30:98sec as they retained their Commonwealth Games title. Having already broken the Commonwealth Games record in the heats, the addition of 100m freestyle world champion Cate Campbell to the team of Bronte Campbell, Melanie Schlanger and Emma McKeon proved the difference as they shaved more than seven tenths of a second off the previous record held by the Netherlands.

Canada takes aim at Russia arms, financial and energy sectors

A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014 Canada revealed on Thursday details of previously announced sanctions targeting Russia's arms, financial and energy sectors, over the downing of Flight MH17. "The measures we are announcing today include sanctions against a broad range of entities from Russia's arms industry, as well as from its financial and energy sectors," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. Armed Ukrainian separatist groups -- The Donetsk People's Republic and The Luhansk People's Republic -- as well as their leaders were also targeted by the latest round of sanctions. "These groups, with direct support from Russia, have engaged in egregious acts against the armed forces of Ukraine, international monitors deployed to the area, and the civilian population," Harper said.

Amazon's heavy investing eats into bottom line, shares drop

A box from is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden By Deepa Seetharaman SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inc posted a much larger-than-expected loss in the second quarter as it continues its rapid pace of investment in new businesses such as digital content and consumer electronics. Amazon's stock price has dropped 10 percent so far in 2014, with investors leery of betting on its long-term growth at the expense of little to no profit. Amazon is investing heavily in new businesses and hardware products, as it prepares to take on major tech rivals from Apple Inc and Google Inc to Netflix. Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said Amazon had a "tremendous amount of opportunities" and its investments were "certainly impacting short-term results." The company is spending more than $100 million on original video content in the third quarter, a substantial increase compared to last year and the second quarter, Szkutak said.

Iraq jihadists blow up 'Jonah's tomb' in Mosul: official

Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group hold a checkpoint on June 17, 2014 in Iraq's second city of Mosul The new jihadist rulers of Iraq's northern city of Mosul on Thursday completely levelled one its most well-known shrines, an official and witnesses told AFP. The Nabi Yunus shrine was built on the reputed burial site of a prophet known in the Koran as Yunus and in the Bible as Jonah. "Islamic State completely destroyed the shrine of Nabi Yunus after telling local families to stay away and closing the roads to a distance of 500 metres from the shrine," said the official at the Sunni endowment, which manages Sunni religious affairs in Iraq. The endowment official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and Mosul residents told AFP it took the Sunni extremists an hour to rig the shrine with explosives.

U.N. aviation body to hold safety meeting with IATA, others: sources

Pieces of the wreckage are seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Petropavlivka (Petropavlovka), Donetsk region The U.N. civil aviation body, ICAO, will meet in Montreal next week with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and other agencies to discuss airline safety following last week's downing of a Malaysian jet over Ukraine, two sources said on Thursday. Such a gathering would be unusual since the International Civil Aviation Organization has no operational role and cannot open or close air routes or warn carriers to avoid conflict zones. ...

Trinidad pair cleared of caging protected animals

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A judge in Trinidad & Tobago has angered environmentalists by dismissing charges against a couple who were found with 55 protected animals caged at their home amid a no-trapping, no-hunting moratorium in the Caribbean nation.

Top Asian News at 10:00 p.m. GMT

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — Eighteen children were killed Thursday when a train crashed into their school bus at an unmanned railroad crossing in southern India, police said. The bus driver also died while another 20 children ages 7 to 14 were injured and hospitalized, 15 of them in critical condition, said Telangana state education minister G. Jagdishwar Reddy.

UN seeks to shore up C. Africa ceasefire deal

Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso (R) and Central African Republic President Catherine Samba Panza (L) attend talks gathering key players in the Central African conflict, on July 23, 2014, in Brazzaville The UN Security Council on Thursday threw its support behind a ceasefire deal reached by warring factions in the Central African Republic and said the agreement should be fully implemented. In a statement, the Council said it welcomed the deal and "called on all parties to immediately and fully implement this agreement." "This agreement is a first step in a wider political process in the Central African Republic," said the Council, citing the need for political dialogue, disarmament of rebels including of child soldiers, and elections.

California seeks arrest of man with tuberculosis

STOCKTON, California (AP) — Prosecutors in California said Thursday they have obtained an arrest warrant for a tuberculosis patient who is contagious and has refused treatment, putting those around him at risk.

Wall Street ends flat on mixed earnings; S&P 500 at record

A trader watches his screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks finished a quiet session mostly flat on Thursday as earnings painted a mixed picture of the economy, though the S&P 500 set another record closing high. With 41 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 68 percent have posted earnings that topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the long-term average of 63 percent. Caterpillar Inc raised its full-year outlook but posted a decline in sales, pushing its stock down 3.1 percent to $105.04. The S&P 500 gained 0.97 of a point or 0.05 percent to end at 1,987.98, its second record closing high in a row.

In Gaza war, Egypt taking hard line over border

FILE - In this file photo taken Sunday, July 13, 2014, Egyptian journalists burn a representative of the Israel flag to protest against the Israeli operations in Gaza, while holding a demonstration in front of the Syndicate of Journalists building in Cairo, Egypt. In the Gaza war, the Palestinian Hamas is demanding the opening of Egypt's Sinai border crossing into blockaded Gaza, but Egypt is so far staunchly refusing _ a reflection of its sharp rivalry with Hamas, which it accuses of fueling militancy on its soil. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File) CAIRO (AP) — In the Gaza war now in its third bloody week, Hamas' battle isn't only with Israel, even though that's the country it is firing rockets at. The militant group that rules Gaza is demanding Egypt open its border with the tiny, blockaded strip of territory.

Nucor confident of favorable rulings vs steel import "tsunami"

Emboldened by a recent favorable ruling for U.S. steelmakers in a steel pipe trade case, Nucor Corp said on Thursday it was confident the industry was poised for more success in future cases as it works to stem "a tsunami of imported steel." Nucor Chairman and Chief Executive John Ferriola said that after spending time in Washington he is more optimistic that U.S. lawmakers are finally starting to understand how damaging low-priced steel imports are for the U.S. economy and jobs. In particular, he said he felt "good" about an upcoming final ruling in a case concerning imports of steel rebar from Mexico and Turkey. "We feel confident that we've got a good shot at a final ruling that's more favorable than the preliminary," Ferriola said on a conference call after Nucor reported better than expected quarterly earnings on higher shipments and prices. In April, the U.S. Commerce Department set preliminary duties on millions of dollars worth of rebar imports from the two countries after U.S. producers complained about price undercutting.

Israel kills three Palestinians, injures dozens in West Bank protest

Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian protesters and wounded about 100 on Thursday in confrontations with several thousand people demonstrating in the occupied West Bank against a 17-day-old Israeli offensive in Gaza, Palestinian medical officials said. The protest erupted after allies of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel's war against Hamas militants in Gaza where the Palestinian death toll has topped 760. Israeli troops have killed two other Palestinians this week in smaller confrontations in the West Bank, territory Israel captured along with Gaza in a 1967 war. Protests were also reported in Jerusalem, where police confronted Palestinian protesters in and near the old walled city, including outside a flashpoint holy site revered by Muslims and Jews.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in massive W.Bank clash: security

Israeli soldiers take cover during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank village of Betunia, on July 18, 2014 Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man Thursday night during a massive protest in the West Bank, just north of Jerusalem. Palestinian security and medical officials named the man as Mohammed Al-Aaraj, 25, and said he was among at least 10,000 people clashing with soldiers and border police in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. "They are rolling burning tyres and throwing molotov cocktails and fireworks at soldiers and border police," she said. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end.

Tseng gives Taiwan sweep of top seed US at Crown

Tseng Yani reacts after a birdie putt during the first round of the LGPA International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, July 24, 2014 Tseng Yani sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Thursday to give last-seed Taiwan a stunning sweep over top-seeded United States at the LPGA International Crown matches. Tseng's clutch putt gave her and Phoebe Yao a 1-up victory over world number one Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson after Teresa Lu and Candie Kung ripped Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr 4 and 3.

England, Aussies begin Glasgow gold rush early

Australia's track cyclist Anna Meares waves to the crowd as she celebrates after winning the women's 500 meter time trial in the Chris Hoy velodrome at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/ Scott Heppell) GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — No surprises so far at the Commonwealth Games: Traditional powers England and Australia dominated the first day of competition Thursday, and an Australian women's relay team set a world record in the pool.

UN: 9 aid trucks enter Syria without government OK

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Nine trucks carrying food and other supplies crossed into Syria through a Turkish checkpoint Thursday — the first to do so under a U.N. resolution authorizing cross-border aid deliveries without Syrian government approval.

Foreign intelligence behind attack on army border post: Egypt

The site of an attack in al-Wadi al-Gadid, close to the El-Farafrah oasis, in the western desert, some 630 kms west of Cairo, near the frontier with Libya Egypt said Thursday that foreign intelligence services were prime suspects in an attack last week that killed 22 soldiers near its border with restive Libya. Unidentified militants firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns attacked a checkpoint in Egypt's western desert last Saturday. "Foreign intelligence services are likely to be behind the terrorist elements which carried out" the attack, interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif said, quoted by state news agency MENA, without naming any countries. "The terrorist operations (in Egypt) are carried out by terrorist elements, mercenaries, trained in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, and recruited by foreign intelligence services," Abdel Latif said.

3 charged in Nicaragua bus attacks that killed 5

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Three men have been charged with murder and organized crime in the weekend attacks on two buses carrying supporters of Nicaragua's governing party that left five people dead and 28 wounded, the country's top prosecutor said Thursday.

Australia women break freestyle relay world record

Australia's Emma McKeon celebrates winning gold in the Women's 200m Freestyle at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre during the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Australia's women set a world record in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay on the first day of competition at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Thursday.

Facebook goes express to mega-cap status - now valued more than AT&T, Coke

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Dell laptop in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - In the days after its infamously mishandled initial public offering in May 2012, it looked as if Facebook would struggle to become a must-own for fund managers. The gains represent a reversal of fortune for the social media company.

Ban 'shocked and appalled' by shelling of Gaza school

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made an impassioned plea for Israel and Hamas to end their conflict and vehemently condemned the shelling of a U.N.-run school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. "I was shocked and appalled by what has happened in Beit Hanoun," Ban told reporters, referring to the northern Gaza town where the attack, in which at least 15 people died according to Gaza authorities, took place. "It is totally unacceptable," he said in Cairo, before sitting down for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the incident underscored the need to reach a ceasefire to end a conflict in which more than 760 Palestinians have died.

Frank Lampard joins New York City FC of MLS

Frank Lampard, of England, smiles during his introduction as a member of the MLS expansion club New York City FC, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) NEW YORK (AP) — The newest team in Major League Soccer is doing its part to fill Yankee Stadium with stars.

Obama wants limits on US company mergers abroad

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in Los Angeles, Thursday, July 24, 2014, on the final day of his three-day West Coast trip. Striking a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, Obama is demanding "economic patriotism" from American corporations that seek overseas mergers to avoid U.S. taxes. Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing to severely limit such deals, a move resisted by Republicans who argue the entire corporate tax code needs an overhaul. (AP Photo) LOS ANGELES (AP) — Staking out a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded "economic patriotism" from U.S. corporations that use legal means to avoid U.S. taxes through overseas mergers.

Starbucks sales in Americas region up slightly more than expected

A Starbucks store is seen in New York (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Thursday said quarterly sales at established stores in its dominant Americas region grew a somewhat stronger-than-expected 6 percent, including a 7 percent rise for the United States. The third fiscal quarter results from the world's biggest coffee chain followed disappointing quarterly results from McDonald's Corp and Dunkin' Donuts parent Dunkin' Brands. Shares in Starbucks were up just 0.4 percent in extended trading following its results. Analysts, on average, expected Starbucks quarterly same-store sales to rise 5.1 percent globally and for the Americas region, according to Consensus Metrix.

GM, Ford hopeful of European rebound despite Ukraine, Russia

The company logo is seen on the bonnet of a Ford car during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show in Geneva By Edward Taylor, Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman FRANKFURT/DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co said on Thursday the crisis in Ukraine has exacerbated a sales slowdown in Russia, but the carmakers said they were on track to turn around their European operations after years of economic instability on the Continent. Ford said again it expected to have a full-year profit in Europe next year and GM reiterated its previous forecast that it would return to profitability in Europe "by mid-decade." Both U.S. automakers reported second-quarter results on Thursday. Ford surprised analysts with a modest second-quarter profit in Europe, while GM matched last year's $114 million loss after writing down a plant closure in Germany.

U.S. judge won't void five ex-Madoff employees' convictions

Bongiorno, former portfolio manager for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, exits the Manhattan Federal Court house in New York By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - The federal judge who oversaw the trial of five associates of imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff on Thursday refused to overturn their convictions for helping their former boss run one of the world's biggest Ponzi schemes. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain found sufficient evidence for jurors on March 24 to have convicted back-office director Daniel Bonventre, portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez after the five-month trial. Swain also said the defendants were not entitled to a new trial, rejecting arguments that prosecutors had made prejudicial remarks during their opening and closing statements, including referring to their defenses as "ridiculous" and "absurd." "Although the court had expected the government to take a higher and less rhetorical road," Swain wrote, "the government's summation – when considered in the context of the meticulous presentation of all of the evidence, arguments in the trial as a whole and the curative instructions – did not so taint the trial so as to make it fundamentally unfair." Judges give jurors curative instructions to eliminate the risk of prejudice from tainted statements or evidence.

Lloyds expected to pay up to $509.5 million as LIBOR fine

A man walks past the entrance to the head office of Lloyds Banking Group in the City of London (Reuters) - Lloyds Banking Group is expected to announce early next week that the British bank would pay between 200 million pounds and 300 million pounds ($509.52 million)to settle benchmark interest rate (LIBOR) fixing allegations, the Financial Times reported late on Thursday. Lloyds is expected to announce the payment before declaring its first-half results, the media agency reported citing people familiar with the situation. One person familiar with the situation told the FT that Lloyds was likely to face less political criticism than Barclays did as it has changed its top management since the alleged misconduct took place and it is now clear that many banks were involved. Lloyds, FCA, CFTC and DoJ could not immediately be reached for comment.($1 = 0.5888 British Pounds) (Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore;

French warplanes search Mali desert for crashed Air Algerie plane

Map locates Algiers, Algeria and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; 1c x 3 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 88 mm; By Hamid Ould Ahmed ALGIERS (Reuters) - French warplanes and U.N. helicopters scoured the north of Mali on Thursday for the wreckage of an Air Algerie flight after it crashed carrying 110 passengers, nearly half of them French, from Burkina Faso to Algiers. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said authorities believed flight AH5017 may have encountered bad weather after the pilot requested to change direction shortly after takeoff due to a storm. Officials in Mali and Burkina Faso gave conflicting accounts of locating the crash. Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said wreckage of the flight had been spotted in his country's far north, toward the Algerian border between the towns of Aguelhoc and Kidal.

Inside Xi Jinping's purge of China's oil mandarins

File photo of then China's Public Security Minister Zhou reacting as he attends the Hebei delegation discussion sessions at the 17th National Congress of the CPC in Beijing By David Lague , Charlie Zhu and Benjamin Kang Lim BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Oil executive Jiang Jiemin rose to power in Communist China in time-honored fashion: by hitching his star to a mighty mentor. In Jiang's case, that patron was another oil man, Zhou Yongkang, who went on to become the chief of China's internal security apparatus and one of the country's most powerful men. Like Zhou before him, Jiang rose to the top of country’s biggest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corporation. ...

US airlines to resume flights to Israel

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. airlines serving Israel will resume flights there Thursday, following a two-day hiatus caused by combat in the Gaza Strip. $16.95 A Day Rental Cars from