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By Costas Pitas and Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - Two British Muslim converts were found guilty of murder on Thursday after hacking a soldier to death in broad daylight on a London street in a gruesome killing that horrified the nation. The murder, its impact magnified by video footage showing the culprits with blood soaked hands explaining their actions, provoked a rise in hate crimes against Muslims in Britain, anti-Islamist street protests and government promises of tougher action on radical Islamist preachers. British spy chiefs are facing questions over whether they could have prevented the attack on Drummer Lee Rigby, charges that echo previous criticisms of the security services. A jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court took just over 90 minutes to unanimously find Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, guilty of murdering Rigby, 25, an Afghan war veteran, near an army barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.
First-time claims for US unemployment benefits rose for the second consecutive week last week, hitting a nine-month high during the year-end holiday season, government data released Thursday showed. Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose to 379,000 in the week ending December 14 from a revised 369,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.