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EU set to slap new sanctions on Russia

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders are poised to slap additional sanctions on Russia because of what they condemn as a continued destabilization of Ukraine and a deepening military involvement by Moscow.

African troops in fresh offensive against Islamists in Somalia

Somali and African Union forces have launched a long-awaited fresh offensive against Shebab Islamist fighters aimed at capturing remaining ports from the extremists, army and government officials said Saturday. "Operation Indian Ocean started late last night.... the enemy is fleeing and the forces are making successful advances so far," said Abdukadir Mohamed Nur, the governor of southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region. Witnesses reported hearing the booms of heavy shelling, as well as seeing convoys of tanks and armoured vehicles heading towards the Shebab stronghold of Bulomarer, some 160 kilometres (100 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu. The Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab are still a powerful and dangerous force but have lost a string of towns to the 22,000-strong AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Somalia sentences Islamist killers of journalist to death

A military court in Somalia has sentenced two Islamist Shebab gunmen to death for killing a journalist, the information minister said Saturday. "Both men freely confessed to the killings, therefore, after the due process of the law, the military court sentenced them to death," Minister of Information Mustafa Duhulow told reporters. The extremists confessed to killing journalist Mohamed Mohamud Timacade, a reporter with London-based Somali-language Universal TV, in October 2013, the minister said, adding the sentence was handed out on Monday. Somalia is one of most dangerous countries for reporters.

Missing brain tumour boy could be in Spain: police

A five-year-old British boy with a brain tumour who was taken from hospital by his parents without doctors' consent could now be in Spain, British police said on Saturday. The police said they had "positive information" to suggest that Ashya King and his family could be in Spain where they have "strong links" to the Marbella area. King's parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, drove him away from Southampton hospital in southern England on Thursday and were seen boarding a ferry to Cherbourg in France. British and French police have been searching for the boy and a French prosecutor said the youngster had effectively been "kidnapped".

EU leaders to pick new foreign policy chief

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders are set to decide who will get the prestigious job as the 28-nation bloc's foreign policy chief for the next five years.

Syrian rebels attack peacekeepers in Golan Heights

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine defense chief says Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights have been attacked by Syrian rebels who are holding dozens of Fijian troops hostage.

Japan ex-wrestler wages 'sports diplomacy' in N. Korea

Flamboyant Japanese wrestler-turned-politicianKanji "Antonio" Inoki kicked off his brand of sports diplomacy in North Korea Saturday ahead of an unusual two-day event featuring martial artists from around the world. Inoki, 71, an opposition member of Japan's upper house with a penchant for red scarves, has travelled to the reclusive state with a host of international fighters in an attempt to use sport to thaw relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang. He met with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-Nam on Saturday, hours before the first night of the "International Pro Wrestling Festival" kicks off at Pyongyang's 20,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju-Yong Stadium, Japanese media reported from the North Korean capital. Kim presides over North Korea's parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, and often receives state guests or credentials from foreign ambassadors -- an indication of how seriously Pyongyang is taking Inoki's visit.

MP Galloway assaulted in west London street

George Galloway, the firebrand left-wing MP, has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw after he was assaulted on a west London street. The Respect Party MP for Bradford West also sustained a suspected broken rib and bruising to his face in the attack which occurred on Friday evening as he posed for pictures with people in the Notting Hill area. A man shouted a comment about the Holocaust and attacked the MP, the 60-year-old's spokesman said.

China warns foreign powers not to use Hong Kong as a 'bridgehead'

By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - China has warned against any foreign interference ahead of a crucial ruling on the city's political future on Sunday, saying Beijing will not tolerate the use of Hong Kong "as a bridgehead to subvert and infiltrate the mainland". China's largely rubber-stamp parliament is set to meet on Sunday, when it is expected to limit 2017 elections for Hong Kong's leader to a handful of pro-Beijing candidates, a move likely to escalate plans by pro-democracy activists to blockade the city's Central business district on Sunday. Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, administered by what is known as the Basic Law.

California passes plastic bag ban, would be first such law in U.S

By Aaron Mendelson SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America. The California Senate voted 22-15 for the bill, which must be signed into law by Sept. 30 by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has not signaled a position on the measure. "Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes," said state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill. The measure would ban grocery stores from handing out single-use grocery bags with customers' purchases, and provide money to local plastic bag companies to retool to make heavier, multiple-use bags that customers could buy.

Obama seeking allies for fight against extremists

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's acknowledgement the U.S. still lacks a strategy for defeating the growing extremist threat emanating from Syria reflects a still unformed international coalition.

Rugby Union - ARU top up code-hopper Hunt's deal with Reds

- The Australian Rugby Union said Saturday it provided financial assistance to secure the services of code-hopper Karmichael Hunt's switch to the Queensland Reds. The Reds on Friday announced wayward international James O'Connor and Hunt had signed to play for Queensland in a boost for the struggling side and putting both players in the frame for next year's World Cup. After months of giving every indication it would not top-up any offer for the former AFL and NRL player to join the Reds in Super 15, ARU boss Bill Pulver said Hunt was now on an ARU agreement.

Minister: Lesotho military seize police HQ, jam radio stations

Lesotho's military seized control of the tiny African kingdom's police headquarters and jammed radio stations and phones in the early hours on Saturday, a government minister and member of the ruling coalition told AFP. "The armed forces, the special forces of Lesotho, have taken the headquarters of the police," sports minister and leader of the Basotho National Party Thesele Maseribane said, describing a possible coup attempt in the small nation located in eastern South Africa. "The prime minister and myself, (we are) still the coalition government.

Ukraine says fighter jet shot down

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces say one of their fighter jets has been shot down by a Russian missile in combat against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Obama's delay on immigration creates uncertainty

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's possible delay in taking action on immigration has thrown advocates and lawmakers from both parties a curveball, barely two months before the midterm elections.

Taliban attack intel office in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber in a truck blew himself up at an intelligence headquarters in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least two people and setting off an intense firefight with security forces, officials said.