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A defense lawyer for actor Danny Masterson says a jury should acquit him because testimony by his accusers was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. Attorney Phillip Cohen said Tuesday during closing arguments in Los Angeles Superior Court that prosecutors failed to prove the former star of the sitcom “That '70s Show” was guilty of three counts of rape. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller says that if the statements by the women were all consistent then it would have indicated they were scripted. Mueller says the victims put themselves through painful interrogations about their trauma and had no motive to lie.

AP
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Iranian shops in Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar and elsewhere across the country have closed their doors amid protests gripping the nation. Two prominent soccer stars also announced they would not be attending the upcoming World Cup over the demonstrations. The shop closures Tuesday came amid calls for a three-day national strike to mark earlier protests in 2019 against Iran’s theocracy that ended in a violent crackdown by authorities. However, this round of demonstrations after the September death of a 22-year-old woman earlier detained by the country’s morality police have continued despite activists recording at least 344 deaths and 15,820 arrests so far.

AP
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Hosting the World Cup marks a pinnacle in Qatar’s efforts to rise out of the shadow of its larger neighbors in the wider Middle East. Doha's politics and its upstart ambitions have brought both international attention and regional ire over its backing of Islamists. The road to the tournament — and Qatar’s increased prominence on the global stage — has been fueled by becoming one of the top exporters of natural gas. Qatar likely hopes the World Cup will serve to boost its standing as it balances relations abroad to hedge against any danger to the country in the future.

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The United Methodist Church moved toward becoming more progressive and LGBTQ-affirming during U.S. regional meetings this month. The meetings included the election of the church's second openly gay bishop, Cedrick Bridgeforth in the Western Jurisdiction. All five U.S. jurisdictions also approved statements aspiring to be a church where LGBTQ people will be protected and empowered. Conservatives say the developments will only accelerate their exit. Hundreds of congregations have already left, and more are in the process of doing so. Church law bans same-sex marriages and ordaining openly gay clergy, but many traditionalists are leaving because the bans aren't enforced.

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Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth addresses the delegates, guests and his new episcopal colleagues, shortly after his election on Nov. 4, 2022, at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. At left is his husband, Christopher Hucks-Ortiz. Bridgeforth is the first openly gay African-American man to be elected bishop. The vote comes six years after the Western Jurisdiction elected the denomination's first openly lesbian bishop, Karen Oliveto of the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area. (Patrick Scriven/United Methodist News via AP)

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Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth, a United Methodist elder in the California-Pacific Conference, embraces his husband, Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, after his election was announced on Nov. 4, 2022, at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. Bridgeforth, who will lead churches in the Greater Northwest Area, said he has always worked across ideological lines in his work in church administration and would continue to do so. (Patrick Scriven/United Methodist News via AP)

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FILE - A gay pride rainbow flag flies with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan., on Friday, April 19, 2019. The United Methodist Church moved toward becoming more progressive and LGBTQ-affirming during U.S. regional meetings in November 2022, that included the election of its second openly gay bishop. Conservatives say the developments will only accelerate their exit from one of the nation’s largest Protestant denominations. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

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Evangelical Christians across the U.S. reconfirmed their allegiance to conservative candidates and causes in the midterm elections. Catholic voters also continued to show how closely divided they are, even on abortion. AP VoteCast shows Catholic voters split about evenly on a high-profile ballot measure that enshrined abortion rights in Michigan’s constitution. VoteCast is an expansive survey of over 94,000 voters across the country. In Kentucky, 60% of Catholic voters cast No votes for a GOP-backed ballot measure aimed at denying any state constitutional protections for abortion. In contrast, about two-thirds of white evangelical voters in both Kentucky and Michigan voted against abortion access.