Senate approves plan to strengthen vigilance along southern border

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The U.S. Senate, by an overwhelming majority, approved an amendment to increase vigilance along the border with Mexico, a decisive step toward a final vote on immigration reform.

The vote was 69-29 in favor of the amendment proposed by Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee, which imposes a number of conditions before undocumented immigrants can be awarded permanent residence.

With this vote, the amendment will be incorporated into the bill for comprehensive immigration reform, which will be voted on before the weekend.

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Protesters burn auto dealership in Brazil

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A small group of protesters set fire to an auto dealership in this Brazilian city not far from where Brazil and Uruguay were facing off in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup soccer tourney.

The local press also reported looting and other fires in the area.

Previously a group of demonstrators threw rocks at the police and hurled Molotov cocktails near Mineirao stadium.

Some 50,000 people took part in the protest in Belo Horizonte, according to official figures.

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Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots tight end, charged with murder

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Former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd, 27, was found slain on June 17 in an industrial park in Attleboro, Massachusetts, roughly a mile from Hernandez's house.

Hernandez, 23, who was released by the Patriots two hours after he was arrested at his home early Wednesday, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to the murder charge and five other weapons counts.

The judge at the Attleboro District Court ordered him held without bail pending trial.

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Brazil beats Uruguay 2-1 for spot in Confederations Cup final

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Host nation Brazil triumphed 2-1 over Uruguay here in a tough, penalty-filled match to claim a berth in the Confederations Cup final.

The latest Brazilian phenom, Neymar, set up both of his team's goals in the a game that largely lived up to the high expectations generated by one of South America's classic soccer rivalries.

Uruguay outplayed Brazil for several stretches during the match.

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Federer stunned in Wimbledon 2nd round by Stakhovsky

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Roger Federer suffered a shocking upset at Wimbledon, falling in the second round to unheralded Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

Two days after arch-rival Rafael Nadal was bounced from the tournament in straight sets by 135th-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis, Federer, a seven-time champion at the All England Club, lost a nip-and-tuck battle against the world's 116th-ranked player.

Federer struggled all match to break through against Stakhovsky's serve, converting just one of his eight break points throughout the three-hour contest.

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Oprah Winfrey ousts J.Lo as most powerful celebrity

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Oprah Winfrey this year established herself as the world's most powerful celebrity, according to Forbes magazine's 2013 list of the 100 most powerful celebrities, with the previous leader, Jennifer Lopez, tumbling to the 12th spot.

"With OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network cable channel) rising from the dead, the unsinkable Winfrey tops our list for the fifth time," Forbes said.

In preparing the ranking, Forbes takes into account not only the money these personalities pocketed during the last 12 months but also their fame, their presence in the media, their number of followers on the social networks and their popularity among advertisers.

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Death toll in India chopper crash climbs to 20

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Twenty people died in the crash of a helicopter performing rescue work in the zone in northern India affected by heavy flooding, the IANS news agency said.

Initially, the Indian air force reported that eight people had died in the crash on Tuesday, but the assistant director for the National Disaster Management Authority, M. Shashidhar Reddy, subsequently raised the number of fatalities to 20.

A member of the air force acknowledged to IANS that when search operations for victims of the accident were suspended 11 bodies had been found.

Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the accident.

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Supremes back gay marriage in 2 historic rulings

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two cases concerning same-sex marriage, overturning a federal law defining marriage as "the union between a man and a woman" and effectively upholding California's legalization of gay marriage.

Five of the nine justices agreed that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

That law prevents homosexuals who were wed in the states where same-sex marriage is legal from receiving legal recognition and financial benefits on the federal level.

In the other case, the high court opened a path for gay marriage to become legal again in California in a procedural ruling on Proposition 8, a 2008 amendment to the state constitution that prohibited homosexual marriages.

Again by a 5-4 vote, the justices invalidated a decision by a federal appeals court that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue and giving instructions to that court to annul the case, a move that effectively would invalidate Prop 8.

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Disturbances in China's Xinjiang region leave 27 dead

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At least 27 people were killed in clashes between police and residents of a town in the northwestern autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang, which is home to Muslim Uighurs and other minorities, China's official Xinhua news agency said.

The disturbances began around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday in the remote city of Lukqun, where knife-wielding mobs attacked police stations and government buildings.

Seventeen people - nine police and security guards and eight civilians - were killed before police opened fire and killed 10 alleged attackers, Xinhua reported.

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Union members, miners join huge student protest in Chile

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Thousands of people turned out on another day of demonstrations called by students in several Chilean cities, with union members, port workers and miners joining the throng.

Several clashes between police and masked protesters were reported and the Carabineros - Chile's militarized police - said that 98 people were arrested and four officers were injured in various ways, although no mention was made of any civilian casualties.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to disrupt the protests.

Authorities said that the damage resulting from the rioting amounted to millions of dollars in both the public and private sectors, noting that "bus stops, traffic lights, commercial establishments, among others" had been damaged.

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EFE