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NEWS BRIEFS


Greece votes on high-stakes bailout referendum

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greeks started casting ballots early Sunday in the closely watched bailout referendum, with opinion polls showing people evenly split on whether to accept creditors' proposals for more austerity in exchange for rescue loans, or defiantly reject the deal. Polling stations are open until 7 p.m. (1600 GMT; noon EST).


The Latest on Greece: Polls open in bailout referendum

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest from the referendum in Greece (all times local): ___


On his native turf, Pope Frances touches on cherished issues

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday, bringing a message of solidarity with the region's poor, who are expected to turn out in droves to welcome their native son home. "The pope of the poor" chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay specifically because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that claims 40 percent of the world's Catholics. He's skipping his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid papal entanglement in this year's presidential election.


America celebrates Independence Day with fireworks, parades

Americans celebrated 239 years as an independent nation on Saturday with extravagant fireworks displays, rock and classical concerts and parades both big and small. Here were some highlights of Independence Day festivities around the nation: ___


Obama: Freedom is paid for by men and women of US military

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says U.S. service members make it possible to enjoy the "incredible blessings" in the greatest country on earth. He says "freedom is not free" but is paid for by all the men and women of the military, including those who blanketed the White House South Lawn for a concert in their honor by Bruno Mars.


US, wooing Vietnam, readies red carpet for communist chief

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong doesn't hold an official government post, but it's not surprising that he'll meet with President Barack Obama on his visit to the United States this week. He is the de-facto top leader of his country. More telling is one of Trong's other engagements — a dinner reception hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, bastion of American free enterprise. Economic imperatives drove the U.S. and Vietnam to normalize postwar relations 20 years ago, and they remain a major incentive to boost ties.


Malaysian leader faces risk of criminal charge over funds

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing the risk of a criminal charge over allegations that millions of dollars were funneled from an indebted state fund to his personal bank accounts, the first time the country's leader has faced criminal allegations. The attorney general confirmed late Saturday he has received documents from an official investigation that made the link between Najib and the investment fund 1MDB. The existence of the documents was first reported by the Asian Wall Street Journal on Friday, showing some $700 million were wired from entities linked to the fund into Najib's accounts.


At least 14 hurt after deck collapse at North Carolina beach

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (AP) — A deck collapsed at a North Carolina beach house as a family got set to take a group photo, leaving at least 14 people injured with two of those in critical condition, authorities said. A spokeswoman at a nearby hospital later said 20 people, including a young child, were rushed to that one hospital alone following the Saturday evening incident, indicating the injury total was higher.


Billy Joel weds girlfriend during Fourth of July party

NEW YORK (AP) — Billy Joel married girlfriend Alexis Roderick in a surprise ceremony at the couple's annual Fourth of July party. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presided over Saturday's nuptials at Joel's Long Island estate, the singer's spokeswoman Claire Mercuri said. The small group of family and friends at the party didn't know the couple planned to exchange vows. Among those in attendance were Alexa Ray Joel, his daughter with his second wife, model Christie Brinkley, and actor Kevin James.


Will history repeat itself? The US women hope not

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Abby Wambach remembers the date by heart: July 17, 2011. That was the day the United States lost to Japan in the Women's World Cup title match in Germany.










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