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Putin vows equal conditions at Sochi Olympics

Putin vows equal conditions at Sochi Olympics

2014 OLYMPICS: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with officials involved in preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Putin met with organisers of the Sochi Winter Olympics with just over two months until the start of the winter games. Photo: Associated Press/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s top responsibility as host of the Winter Olympics is to ensure equal conditions for all the athletes.

The law signed this year banning the distribution of so-called propaganda to minors about non-traditional sexual relationships has raised wide concern about whether gay athletes and spectators would face discrimination at the Olympics, being held Feb. 7-23 in Sochi.

The Russian leader told his annual marathon news conference on Thursday that “the main thing for us is the good organization of these competitions, the creation of equal terms for all athletes.”

The comment came two days after President Barack Obama announced that two openly gay athletes would be part of the U.S. delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies in Sochi.

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Rice replaces ice in India bucket challenge

An Indian school boy eats a midday meal provided free at a government school in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. India has offered free midday school meals since the 1960s in an effort to persuade poor parents to send their children to school, a program that reaches some 120 million children. The country now plans to subsidize wheat, rice and cereals for some 800 million people under a $20 billion scheme to cut malnutrition and ease poverty.

The famous "ice bucket" challenge is inspiring thousands of Indians to follow suit, but with a twist - they are replacing ice with rice to help the country's hungry people.