By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - A measure to grant California workers mandatory sick leave that passed the state legislature early on Saturday appeared poised to become law after Governor Jerry Brown lauded it as a historic achievement. The bill would require employers to provide at least three days of annual paid sick leave to workers, who would accrue the time off at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked. If Brown signs the measure into law, California will join Connecticut as the only states mandating paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Business groups have mostly opposed efforts to impose mandatory paid sick leave, saying that they could force businesses to pare back work forces and raise prices.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday dismissed a political crisis triggered by protests aimed at unseating his government as "a tiny storm" that would be ended soon. Thousands of supporters of opposition leader Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have been camped outside parliament since August 15 demanding Sharif quit, claiming the election which swept him to power last year was rigged. "We have already accepted all their demands, of electoral reforms and establishment of a commission," Sharif said, referring to a judicial commission to investigate rigging claims. Sharif added the findings of the judicial commission would be made public and would be acceptable to his government, but Khan again on Saturday rejected this and reiterated his demand that Sharif resign.
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed Saturday he fled in fear of his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Powerful neighbour South Africa and the Commonwealth backed Thabane's claims, with Johannesburg warning the Basotho army that such action "shall not be tolerated". "I came into South Africa this morning and I will return as soon as my life is not in danger," he said. "I will not go back to Lesotho to get killed."
Iraqi security forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters launched a major operation Saturday to break the more than two-month jihadist siege of a Shiite Turkmen-majority town, officials said. The operation has been in the works for days, with Iraqi aircraft carrying out strikes and forces massing for the drive toward Amerli, which has been besieged since militants led by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group launched a major offensive in June. Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi said the operation to free Amerli from the jihadists has been launched with support from Iraqi aircraft, vowing that "we will be victorious over them". Karim al-Nuri, spokesman for the Badr Organisation militia, said thousands of its fighters were taking part alongside civilian volunteers and security forces.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday he was feeling "emotional and nervous" about the September 18 Scottish independence referendum. Polls have consistently shown the "No" campaign ahead of the pro-independence push, but with three weeks to go until the ballot there remain hundreds of thousands of undecided voters. "I'm emotional and nervous because it matters so much," Cameron told the Scottish Daily Mail newspaper. First Minister Alex Salmond's pro-independence Scottish National Party forms the devolved government in Edinburgh.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The last time President Barack Obama celebrated workers' rights at a Wisconsin Labor Day event, there was barely a hint of the turmoil that would embroil the state later when public employees staged massive protests in an unsuccessful bid to keep their collective bargaining rights.
An Egyptian court on Saturday commuted a death sentence against the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader to life in prison, in one of many trials of Islamists since their removal from power. Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, still faces the gallows, however, after another court in southern Egypt passed a separate death sentence over deadly riots in August 2013, almost a month after the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
The Gulf Arab monarchies have resolved a six-month dispute with Qatar, which they had accused of destabilising the region by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an Omani minister told AFP Saturday. "The crisis in the Gulf has been resolved," Muscat's Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said after a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah. Relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain sank to a new low in March when the three governments withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, accusing it of meddling in their affairs and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The three monarchies accused Qatar of supporting Islamist movements close to the Muslim Brotherhood in other Gulf states and providing a refuge for Islamists from other Arab states.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California's lawmakers ended a two-year session on Saturday with a package of bills that reflected deep disagreement over pressing issues including undocumented migrants, the social safety net and measures to cope with a severe drought. More than a dozen gun control bills were introduced in the wake of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and numerous other measures addressed immigration issues as part of a concerted effort to make the lives of undocumented migrants in California easier, even as comprehensive reform stalled at the national level amid Republican opposition.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday said fresh US sanctions imposed on organisations linked to Tehran's nuclear programme have "further deepened" mistrust that exists between the long-time foes. "This is not compatible with the atmosphere of the negotiations," Rouhani told reporters in Tehran. "It goes against confidence building measures. The US Treasury on Friday announced dozens of measures targeting Iranian individuals and entities, including shipping and oil companies, banks and airlines.
French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that EU leaders meeting in Brussels were likely to boost sanctions on Russia over the escalating Ukraine conflict. "Sanctions will be no doubt increased and the (European) Commission will have to work on" implementing this, Hollande told reporters after a meeting of centre-left leaders in Paris. The Ukraine crisis is "the biggest crisis since the end of the Cold War," said Hollande. "It's close to Europe.
Israeli forces detained 597 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in August, raising the number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons to more than 7,000, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said. The majority of the arrests took place in East Jerusalem and Hebron, which is situated in the south of the West Bank, the NGO, based in Ramallah, said in a statement. Many were arrested during demonstrations in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which was the focus of a deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, the de facto ruler of Gaza.
EU Commission head Jose Manual Barroso warned on Saturday that the crisis in Ukraine was reaching the point of no return, after reports Russian troops were fighting in the east of the country. "We are in a very serious, I would say, dramatic situation... where we can reach the point of no return," Barroso said after talks in Brussels with Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko.