• EU hits Russian intelligence chiefs with sanctions

    Updated: 39 min ago

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Friday extended its Ukraine-related sanctions to target top Russian intelligence officials and leaders of the pro-Russia revolt in eastern Ukraine, official documents showed. Among the 15 new people subjected to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban were Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Russian Federal Security Service, and Sergei Beseda, head of the FSB department that oversees international operations and intelligence activity. Four members of Russia's Security Council were also included on the EU list. The new measures, designed to put pressure on Moscow and its allies in Ukraine, were announced in the EU's Official Journal, and took effect immediately.

  • France to host meeting on Gaza cease-fire talks

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — More than a half-dozen foreign ministers including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a meeting in France to press for a cease-fire in Gaza. The French Foreign Ministry said Friday that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, along with his counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union, Turkey and Qatar, will attend the Saturday meeting. Besides supporting an Egyptian cease-fire plan — rejected by Gaza's militant Hamas rulers — the goal "is to bring together international efforts so that as quickly as possible conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza emerge," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Roman Nadal. Kerry has been in the Middle East seeking a seven-day humanitarian truce between Isra

  • US: Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis. Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said five salvos of heavy rockets were fired across the border near the town of Kolesnikov in the Luhansk region in the country's east.

  • Russia: McDonald's food has 'too many calories'

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Nearly a quarter-century after McDonald's startled and delighted Soviets with their first taste of American fast-food culture, the company's now facing a suit that could ban it from selling some of its signature products. The Russian consumer protection agency said Friday it is taking the company to court for selling foods that contain more fats and carbohydrates than are allowed by national regulations. The suit comes amid especially high tensions between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine crisis; the United States has slapped an array of sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine for allegedly supporting separatist rebels who are fighting in eastern Ukraine.

  • Teams converge on remote site to probe plane crash

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Aviation experts, criminal investigators and soldiers began converging Friday on an isolated patch of restive Mali to search for clues that might explain why an Air Algerie jetliner fell from the sky in a storm and apparently disintegrated on impact. French authorities said the catastrophe was probably the result of extreme bad weather, but they refused to exclude other possibilities, like terrorism, without a full investigation. All 118 people aboard the plane were killed. The loss of flight 5017 wiped out whole families. Nearly half of the dead were French. The passenger list also included other Europeans, Canadians and Africans. The six crew members were Spanish.

  • Ukrainian president: Confidence vote Thursday

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko says the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will face a vote of confidence in a special session of Parliament next week. Poroshenko made the announcement Friday after meeting with parliamentary leaders after Yatsensyuk said the day before that he was stepping down. Yatsenyuk said he was resigning after two parties left the coalition supporting the government, raising the possibility of early elections. But Poroshenko seemed to indicate Yatsenyuk could stay on at least for a while, saying the collapse of the coalition "is not a basis for the resignation of the government" though he "does not exclude" changes in the government team.

  • What happened? The day Flight 17 was downed

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    SNIZHNE, Ukraine (AP) — It was lunchtime when a tracked launcher with four SA-11 surface-to-air missiles rolled into town and parked on Karapetyan Street. Fifteen hundred miles (2,400 kilometers) to the west, passengers were checking in for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It had been a noisy day in this eastern Ukrainian town, residents recounted. Plenty of military equipment was moving through. But still it was hard to miss the bulky missile system, also known as a Buk M-1. It left deep tread marks in the asphalt as it rumbled by in a small convoy. The vehicles stopped in front of journalists from The Associated Press. A man wearing unfamiliar fatigues, speaking with a distinctive Russian accent, checked to make sure they wer

  • Bayreuth Wagner fest starts with stage malfunction

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Bayreuth's annual opera festival has gotten off to an unexpectedly dramatic start, with a technical malfunction forcing an interruption shortly after the opening performance of Richard Wagner's "Tannhaeuser" kicked off. German news agency dpa, citing its reporters at Friday's performance, said the audience was asked to leave the auditorium after about 20 minutes for safety reasons. It said spectators heard two bangs and saw parts break off a mobile cage on the stage. The performance resumed about 50 minutes later. German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said: "If the technology is the only thing that doesn't work, then we can live with it.

  • Russian execs fear lasting damage from plane crash

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Having for months dismissed Western sanctions on Russia as toothless, business leaders here are now afraid that the downing of the Malaysian jetliner will bring about an international isolation that will cause serious and lasting economic damage. Throughout the Ukrainian crisis, U.S. and European sanctions had mainly targeted a handful of individuals, sparing economic ties. Then last week the U.S. imposed penalties on some of Russia's largest corporations. And when the airliner was shot down just a day later in Ukraine, allegedly by separatists with Moscow's support, concern grew in Russia that the sanctions would only get worse as President Vladimir Putin shows little sign of cooperation.

  • BSkyB to create multinational European TV network

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — London-based pay TV network BSkyB has agreed to take control of its sister companies in Italy and Germany, creating a multinational European broadcaster. The deal could have a wider impact on the media industry, giving Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox a cash boost to potentially revive its attempt to buy Time Warner. BSkyB said Friday it will buy Sky Italia and 57 percent of Sky Deutschland for 5.35 billion pounds ($9.1 billion) from media giant 21st Century Fox. Besides being chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, Murdoch is also BSkyB's largest shareholder with a stake of just over 39 percent. BSkyB said the deal would create a pay TV provider with 20 million customers across three of Europe's four biggest m

  • Gaza officials accuse Israel of war crimes at ICC

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Top Palestinian officials have accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, filing a complaint Friday to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem Al-Saqqa and Ismail Jabr, the Gaza court public prosecutor, started legal proceedings via a Paris-based lawyer over the 18 days of fighting between Hamas fighters and Israeli ground forces that's left 800 Palestinians dead — including hundreds of civilians. Thirty seven Israelis have been killed, 35 of them soldiers. The officials accuse Israel of war crimes, which, they say, under the ICC statutes includes "crime of apartheid," ''attacks against civilians," ''excessive loss of human life" and "crime of colonization.

  • Turkish high-speed rail opens between main cities

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey inaugurated a high-speed rail service Friday linking Ankara to Istanbul which will cut travel time between the country's main two cities by half. The launch suffered a mishap however, with a technical fault causing the train to stop for 15 minutes until it was repaired. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other dignitaries opened the service, making the first high-speed journey with stops at two stations along the way where the Turkish leader delivered campaign speeches for presidential elections on Aug. 10. Private NTV television and other reports said a wire failure caused the train to stop about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Istanbul, but the problem was quickly repaired.

  • Top German court rejects bid for Eichmann files

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court has rejected a newspaper's bid to gain unrestricted access to all the foreign intelligence service's files on Adolf Eichmann, known as the architect of the Holocaust. The Federal Constitutional Court said Friday that the complaint was dismissed last month. No reasons were given for the decision. The Bild newspaper had sought to overturn a lower court's ruling last year that the BND intelligence agency was within its rights to black out passages from the files sought by a journalist attempting to shed light on whether West German authorities knew in the 1950s where Eichmann fled after World War II.

  • Cyprus passes international bailout review

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' international creditors said Friday that the country's bailout program is making good progress as fiscal targets have been comfortably met, welfare reform has moved forward and more steps have been taken to shore up the banking sector. But they urged authorities to tackle the high number of bad loans that are a drag on economic growth and job creation because they keep banks from lending. In a statement issued after the end of Cyprus' fifth bailout review, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund said that quickly passing foreclosure and insolvency laws is key to getting borrowers to pay off debt as bad loans account for more than half of all loans

  • Lufthansa, Air France to resume Tel Aviv flights

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Air France and Germany's two biggest airlines decided Friday to resume flights to Tel Aviv after canceling operations for several days over safety concerns. Germany's Lufthansa said it would resume flights in stages starting Saturday morning. The decision also applies to its subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines. Air France said its first flight to Tel Aviv would leave Paris on Friday night. Germany's second-biggest carrier, Air Berlin, said that it would start flying midday Saturday. Lufthansa said its decision was taken "on the basis of the most up-to-date information we have available and our own assessment of the local security situation.

  • Oil company worker from Malta is abducted in Libya

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Malta's foreign ministry says a Maltese man who works for an oil company in Libya has been kidnapped by rebels on the outskirts of Tripoli. The ministry on Friday said Martin Galea, 42, is a retired Maltese armed forces captain. It said he was abducted on July 17 as he was being driven to work and was taken to an undisclosed location. Maltese officials were informed of the abduction last week. They said efforts by Malta's embassy in Tripoli to make contact with the man, a health-and-safety professional, so far have been unsuccessful.

  • Lunch special: Pope lines up for self-serve meal

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Do you make the pope pay for lunch? Pope Francis popped in unannounced at the Vatican workers' cafeteria Friday and lined up, tray in hand, along with stunned diners. Cashier Claudia Di Giacomo told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that when Francis presented his tray with a plate of cod, a bowl of fusilli pasta without sauce, a side of grilled tomatoes and "just a few" french fries, she "didn't have the courage to hand him the bill." Francis chatted with his tablemates -- five Vatican pharmacy stock clerks. His tip? A papal blessing and photos snapped with diners, said the cafeteria chef, Franco Paini. The pope usually dines at the Vatican guest house where he lives.

  • Dutch Safety Board: 1st 'factual findings' soon

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch Safety Board leading the international investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 says it expects to publish "initial factual findings" soon. A spokeswoman said Friday that such findings could be published as early as the end of next week, and will likely provide a picture of how the investigation will proceed. Sara Vernooij says the board will likely say "what can we rule out? What are we going to focus on?" The board added in a statement that investigators will be visiting the wreckage site in eastern Ukraine in the coming days.

  • Russia bans dairy imports from Ukraine

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has announced a ban on all dairy imports from Ukraine starting next week, a move Kiev has dismissed as politically motivated. The Russian agency in charge of agricultural products said Friday it is banning imports of Ukrainian dairy starting Monday because of numerous quality flaws found in its products. Russia is a key market for Ukrainian dairy products. Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Ihor Shvaika described the ban to Interfax Ukraine as politically motivated. Russia lambasted Ukraine's decision to sign a treaty with the EU in June. Russian sanitary officials have stopped imports from other countries when relations went sour.

  • Russia raises key rate amid Ukraine concerns

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's central bank has unexpectedly raised its key interest rate in a bid to stem inflation and support the currency as the country faces increasing economic pressure over its policies in Ukraine. The bank said Friday it has lifted its one-week auction rate by 0.5 percentage points to 8 percent. The central bank cited "heightened geopolitical risks" that are likely to push down the Russian ruble, fueling consumer price inflation. Higher rates tend to support a currency but can hurt economic growth. The rate has risen from 5.5 at the beginning of the year. That has helped support the ruble after a period of weakness, but growth is sliding.