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EU weighs Russia sanctions as Ukraine toll soars

Hesitant European leaders on Wednesday launch a fresh debate on adopting new sanctions against Russia for its perceived backing of Ukrainian insurgents that could boomerang against their own fragile economies. The Brussels discussions come as three months of fighting that has already claimed more than 600 lives threatens to spill into all-out civil war with potential repercussions for neighbouring European nations. Ukraine called the incident a "provocation" by the separatists aimed at making it look like the new pro-Western leaders in Kiev were bombing ethnic Russians who cherish their Soviet-era ties with Moscow. Kiev reported the death of 11 more servicemen overnight and warned that Russia had parked thousands of troops along its entire border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion.


Dutch court rules state liable over 300 Srebrenica victims

A court in the Netherlands ruled Wednesday that the Dutch state was liable for the deaths of over 300 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II. Families of the victims had brought a case the Dutch government over the 1995 killings, accusing Dutch UN peacekeepers of failing to protect the 8,000 slaughtered by ethnic Serb troops just a few months before the end of the Bosnian war.


Eurozone trade surplus higher in May

Countries in the eurozone posted a 15.4-billion-euro ($20.9-billion) trade surplus in May, official data showed on Wednesday, with export powerhouse Germany again leading the way. The data provided "slightly brighter news after a series of disappointing hard data releases for the month," said Christian Schulz of Berenberg Bank.


Iraqi Shiite cleric tells AFP: PM Maliki must go

The removal of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would be an "important part" of the solution to Iraq's political crisis, the spokesman for one of the country's top Shiite clerics said. The statement is the first from any of Iraq's revered Shiite religious leaders to explicitly endorse Maliki's departure, and is one of a string of recent announcements indicating a more active national role for the usually taciturn clergy. The speedy formation of a new more inclusive government is seen as a crucial step in countering last month's onslaught by Islamic State (IS) militants, who have exploited resentment stoked by Iraq's ineffectual and fractious political leaders. An important part," said Sheikh Ali al-Najafi, spokesman for his father Grand Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi, referring to Maliki's defenestration.


Lew: cyberattacks aim to disrupt U.S. financial system

The hundreds of cyberattacks against U.S. banks and other institutions in recent years represent a targeted attempt to more broadly disrupt the U.S. financial system, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday. In remarks on CNBC, Lew did not single out a suspected country or organization behind the attacks, but said they held the potential to cause massive economic damage if "core operational functions" of major financial institutions were compromised.


Democrat holding lead in New Hampshire Senate race: poll

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is holding off a challenge from Republican Scott Brown, according to a poll released on Wednesday, although the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts is gaining ground. Shaheen has the support of some 50 percent of registered voters, with 42 percent favoring Brown, who stunned Massachusetts Democrats in 2010 when he won a U.S. Senate seat that had been held by liberal Edward M. Kennedy for a half-century, according to the NBC News/Marist College poll. Brown lost his re-election bid in 2012 and late last year moved back to neighboring New Hampshire, where he grew up, in anticipation of this year's campaign. Majorities of independent and moderate voters support Shaheen, a former New Hampshire governor, and 52 percent of voters overall view her favorably, while just 40 percent of the 1,342 voters polled from July 7 through 13 viewed Brown favorably.

Georgia to investigate death of TV tycoon

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia's president on Wednesday called for a murder investigation into the shooting of an influential TV tycoon.

Russia 'agrees to reopen Cuba spy base'

Russia has provisionally agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on the United States, a Russian daily reported Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin visited the island last week. Kommersant reported that Russia and Cuba had agreed "in principle" to reopen the Lourdes base, mothballed since 2001, citing several sources within Russian authorities. "The agreements were finalised while President Vladimir Putin visited Havana last Friday," the respected daily wrote.


Fallon says eurosceptic UK cabinet reflects public views

British Prime Minister David Cameron's newly eurosceptic cabinet reflects the increasing prevalence of anti-EU feelings in the country, a newly promoted minister said Wednesday. Conservative Cameron has conducted a major shake-up of his ministers, notably replacing foreign secretary William Hague with Philip Hammond, who has said he would vote for Britain to leave the EU unless it takes back more powers from Brussels. "It's certainly a eurosceptic cabinet, but the country is eurosceptic now," said Michael Fallon, who replaces Hammond as defence secretary in the reshuffle.


Odinga tells AFP: Kenya govt 'not serious' on Islamist threat

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the government of failing to safeguard national security in the face of a wave of Islamist attacks and has warned of mounting internal ethnic tensions. He said the east African nation was now in a state of permanent anxiety because of attacks by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, and that Kenya should pull its troops out of Somalia.


Almost 7 million need aid in Sudan, says UN

Worsening conflict in Darfur and an influx of people fleeing war in South Sudan helped push to almost seven million the number needing aid in Sudan, the UN said Wednesday. Aid agencies urgently need funding "to assist 6.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance (roughly 20 percent of Sudan's population)," a UN statement said. "The Sudan humanitarian response plan has been revised to reflect the deteriorating situation in Darfur, the influx of new refugees from South Sudan, and Sudan's acute malnutrition crisis," Ali Al-Za'tari, the UN's Sudan humanitarian coordinator, said in the statement. Adding to the humanitarian burden, more than 85,000 people have sought refuge over the border in Sudan since December when a power struggle between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar spiralled into brutal ethnic conflict that killed thousands.


Patricia Arquette’s Wild Ride

‘Boyhood’ chronicles the growth of a young boy from first grade to college, with the actress playing the single mother who sacrifices her own happiness for her children.


British unemployment rate drops to 6.5%

Britain's unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in the quarter to the end of May, hitting the lowest level for more than five years, official data showed on Wednesday. The rate for the March-May period compares with 6.6 percent for the three months to the end of April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.


China's growth speeds up to 7.5%, beats expectations

Chinese growth accelerated to a forecast-beating 7.5 percent in the second quarter, official data showed Wednesday, as government stimulus provided a much-needed boost to the world's second-largest economy. The April-June figure from the National Bureau of Statistics compared with 7.4 percent in the previous three months and exceeded the median forecast of 7.4 percent in a survey of 17 economists by AFP. "Generally speaking, China's economy showed good momentum of stable and moderate growth in the first half-year," NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told reporters. "However we should keep in mind that the domestic and international economic environment is still complicated and the national economy still faces many challenges."


Liberals assessing 2016 race as Clinton weighs bid

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes her book, liberals in the Democratic Party are elbowing into the 2016 presidential conversation, pitching a populist message on the economy and immigration.


Opposing camps criticize gay candidate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Carl DeMaio figures he must be doing something right if both social conservatives and members of the gay rights community oppose him.


Senate derails Army bid to take Guard helicopters

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (AP) — The Army has lost an initial Senate skirmish over a hotly disputed plan to take Apache attack helicopters away from National Guard units in a budget-cutting move that has infuriated governors and state military leaders.


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