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Activist convicted of 'gay propaganda'

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- A prominent Russian gay rights activist was convicted on Friday of spreading "gay propaganda" among minors in the first such ruling in Russia's modern history.

Nikolai Alexeyev told the Associated Press that a city court in St. Petersburg fined him 5,000 rubles ($170) for breaching the law, which was controversially introduced by lawmakers in Russia's second-largest city in February.

Alexeyev was briefly detained last month after he picketed the city hall in St. Petersburg with a poster which said that "homosexuality is not a perversion."

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong. Alexeyev and other activists have petitioned Moscow authorities for permission to stage a gay pride parade, but have been denied. Moscow's longtime mayor Yuri Luzhkov described gay parades as "satanic"; his successor Sergei Sobyanin has said he disapproves of gay gatherings because they could offend the religious beliefs of many Russians.

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Keystone XL builder submits new route

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- The Canadian company trying to build the disputed Keystone XL pipeline in the United States submitted a new application Friday after changing the route to avoid environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska.

TransCanada said it applied again to the U.S. State Department for permission to build the pipeline to carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to a company hub in Steele City, Neb. From there, the project would link up with other pipelines operated by the company to carry oil to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

President Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year, a decision that drew fire from Republicans and industry groups.

Obama is under pressure to support the pipeline from Republicans and business and labor leaders who argue it would create jobs. The pipeline's opponents, including many Democrats, worry about environmental impacts.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. officials would conduct a thorough review of the new application, with a final decision not expected until early next year -- well after the presidential election.

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Strauss-Kahn a suspect in new investigation

PARIS (AP) -- French investigators are studying accusations that Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have been involved in a rape during a sex party in a Washington hotel in 2010 while he was chief of the International Monetary Fund, a judicial official said Friday.

Strauss-Kahn, via his lawyers, denied any violence and said he's the subject of a public "lynching campaign." The prominent economist, once a top contender for France's presidency, has seen his career and reputation crumble since he was accused of sexual assault in a New York hotel a year ago.

Investigating judges in the northern French city of Lille have asked for prosecutors' permission to broaden a suspected prostitution probe to examine claims of rape in Washington in December 2010, said an official at the Lille prosecutor's office.

The prosecutor's office will decide next week whether to expand the investigation, the official said.

Strauss-Kahn is already a target in the Lille prostitution probe, which has mushroomed over the past year into a nationwide scandal. He is facing preliminary charges of alleged aggravated pimping.