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Study: Smokers Better Off Quitting, Even With Weight Gain

If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may seem like you're trading one set of health problems for another. But a new U.S. study finds you're still better off in the long run. Compared with smokers, even the quitters who gained the most weight had at least a 50 percent lower risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and other causes, the Harvard-led study found. The study is impressive in its size and scope and should put to rest any myth that there are prohibitive weight-related health… Read Full Article

Zimbabwe President Urges Court to Toss Opposition Challenge

Lawyers representing Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa have filed papers urging the country's Constitutional Court to throw out an opposition challenge to his election. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party won the July 30 election in this politically and economically troubled southern African country's first election without former longtime ruler Robert Mugabe on the ballot. The electoral commission said Mnangagwa received 50.8 percent of the… Read Full Article

Heat Waves Affecting Oceans, Too

Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves. Off the San Diego coast, scientists earlier this month recorded the highest seawater temperatures since daily measurements began in 1916. "Just like we have heat waves on land, we also have heat waves in the ocean,'' said Art Miller of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Between 1982 and 2016, the number of "marine heat waves'' roughly doubled, and most likely they will become more common and intense as… Read Full Article

Mattis Pledges Closer Defense Cooperation with Argentina

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday pledged closer defense cooperation with Argentina. Standing beside his Argentinian counterpart, Oscar Aguad, Mattis said the military partnership can be strengthened. He alluded to the help the U.S. Navy provided Argentina last November when one of its submarines went missing with 44 sailors aboard. Mattis’s visit is the first to Argentina by an American secretary of defense since Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2005. Mattis and Aguad announced no… Read Full Article

'Simpsons' Creator Brings Animated Fantasy Show to Netflix

The creator of the long-running animated TV series The Simpsons brings his first new show in 20 years to Netflix this week, a story that centers around a drunken princess, an elf and a demon. Set in a medieval world called Dreamland, Disenchantment is creator Matt Groening's take on shows like HBO's blockbuster fantasy series Game of Thrones. Speaking at the show's Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday, Groening said the program is "more emotional" than The Simpsons or his other animated hit,… Read Full Article

Rights Group Demands Freedom for Jailed Vietnamese Environmentalist

Amnesty International is demanding Vietnam immediately and unconditionally free environmental activist Le Dinh Luong, who is scheduled to go on trial Thursday. Le Dinh Luong has been accused of taking part in activities aimed at "overthrowing the state" — charges Amnesty says are political. "For peacefully campaigning on behalf of fishermen affected by an environmental disaster, Le Dinh Luong could face a life sentence or even the death penalty," Amnesty's Clare Algar said Wednesday. She… Read Full Article

US Broadens Visa Bans Over 'Flawed' Cambodia Election

The United States said Wednesday that it was expanding visa restrictions on individuals responsible for "anti-democratic" actions in the run-up to Cambodia's July 29 election. The State Department said the move followed on from its December 6 announcement that it would restrict entry to the United States by people involved in Cambodian government actions to undermine democracy, including the dissolution of the main opposition party and imprisonment of its leader, Kem Sokha. "The expanded… Read Full Article

Israel Lets Food, Commercial Goods Back into Gaza as Egypt Seeks Truce

Israel allowed commercial goods back into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in a sign of easing tensions as neighboring Egypt pursued a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian enclave’s dominant armed faction. But the prospect of an agreement between Israel and the Islamist group prompted concern within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government that Hamas would take advantage of any respite from fighting to build up its rocket arsenal. Israel’s security… Read Full Article

Paraguay's New President Takes Office, Promises to Cut Poverty

Former senator Mario Abdo Benitez took office as Paraguay's new president Wednesday, pledging to cut poverty and fight corruption after winning national elections in April, but major changes to economic policy were not expected. Abdo, 46, a conservative Colorado party politician, replaces businessman and Colorado party member Horacio Cartes, a former soft-drink and tobacco executive who oversaw one of Latin America's highest growth rates and raised Paraguay's presence in global bond markets… Read Full Article

Cuba Frees Leading Dissident Charged with Attempted Murder

A leading Cuban dissident said he was freed from jail on Wednesday, 12 days after his arrest for attempted murder following a car crash in which he hit and injured an official from the Communist-run island's interior ministry. Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), told Reuters he had been held incommunicado since his arrest over the traffic incident on Aug. 3. Ferrer is accused of deliberately trying to run over a government official. Amnesty International, the… Read Full Article