• UK sex abuse report prompts outrage, reflection

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    ROTHERHAM, England (AP) — Rotherham is a working-class town that is remarkable in its ordinariness — a collection of charmless discount stores, betting shops and kebab counters, surrounded by sleepy residential streets lined with brick houses that have seen better days. But below the drab surface, shock was evident Wednesday as the people of this northern English town learned that for 16 years, girls as young as 11 in their community had been subjected to sexual exploitation on a vast scale. The number of victims — 1,400 — was terrifying enough for a community of just 250,000.

  • Battle for Ukraine's southeast coast heats up

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pushing west in a new offensive along Ukraine's strategic coastline, heavily armed Russian-backed separatist forces captured new territory Wednesday far from their previous battles with government troops. The bold offensive along a new southeastern front raised the prospect that the separatists are seeking to create a land link between Russia and Crimea, which also would give them control over the entire Azov Sea. After a third day of heavy shelling that sent many residents fleeing, rebel fighters with dozens of tanks and armored vehicles entered Novoazovsk, a resort town of 40,000 on the Azov Sea, the mayor told The Associated Press.

  • Banksy artwork sale gives youth club lifeline

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — A cash-strapped youth group in Bristol has sold a Banksy artwork to a private collector for 403,000 British pounds ($668,000) — securing the future of the club. The work, "Mobile Lovers," shows a couple embracing while checking their mobile phones, their faces illuminated by the glow of the display. It first appeared on a doorway near the club, Broad Plain Working With Young People. Club owner Dennis Stinchcombe had moved the work inside and invited the public to view it — with an optional donation. The work was later put on display at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery while its ownership was established. Stinchcombe thanked Banksy at a news conference at the museum announcing the sale.

  • EU to beef up border agency to deal with migrants

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    ROME (AP) — The European Commission agreed Wednesday to Italian demands to replace Rome's politically unpopular emergency operation for rescuing would-be refugees crossing the Mediterranean with an EU-wide project. The European commissioner for home affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, announced plans to beef up the European border patrol agency at a news conference in Brussels alongside Italy's interior minister. She urged all EU member states to contribute planes, ships and personnel to the "Frontex Plus" operation she hopes to launch by November. Italy began its 9.5 million euro ($13 million) a month "Mare Nostrum" operation last October after 360 migrants drowned off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

  • IMF chief Lagarde under investigation in France

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Christine Lagarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, was put under official investigation for negligence in a French corruption probe that dates back to her days as France's finance minister. After a fourth round of questioning before magistrates on Wednesday, Lagarde said she was returning to her work in Washington, and called the investigation "without basis." She is the third IMF managing director in a decade to face legal troubles. Lagarde and her former chief of staff have faced questions about their role in an arbitration ruling that handed 400 million euros ($531 million) to a French businessman with a checkered past.

  • Cypriots protest proposed bank loan legislation

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Hundreds of Cypriots have staged a protest outside the presidential palace against proposed legislation aimed at helping the bailed-out country's beleaguered banks collect on bad loans. Wednesday's protest by mostly left-wing groups comes ahead of a parliamentary vote on the legislation, which would allow banks to go after debtor's properties faster if they don't pay their mortgage costs. Cyprus currently has a very lengthy foreclosures process and many bad loans. Its international creditors say the legislation, which is meeting stiff resistance from several parties, is necessary for the country to collect its next batch of bailout money.

  • VENICE WATCH: Fest supports imprisoned filmmakers

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red-carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: FESTIVAL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR IMPRISONED FILMMAKERS There were two empty chairs at Wednesday's news conference to introduce the jurors who will be handing out the festival's coveted Golden Lion and other prizes. Festival director Alberto Barbera said the seats were left vacant to draw attention to the incarceration of filmmakers Mahnaz Mohammadi and Oleg Sentsov.

  • Citing Ebola, Air France suspends flights

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — France on Wednesday recommended that its citizens leave the African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia because of the outbreak of Ebola there, and Air France temporarily suspended its three flights a week to Sierra Leone. The disease has now killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa. Air France announced that it temporarily halted its flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone because of the Ebola outbreak there and at the request of the French government. The French national carrier said it is maintaining its flights to Conakry, Guinea, and to Lagos, Nigeria, cities it flies to once a day. Referring to Ebola, the airline said, "Measures in place at airports there "guarantee ... that no passengers presentin

  • Low-budget Ryanair launches business-class

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    DUBLIN (AP) — European budget carrier Ryanair is offering business-class tickets in an attempt to woo companies and governments during penny-pinching times. Marketed under the slogan "Your boss will approve," the new ticket reverses some of the airline's more reviled policies for fee-dazzled travelers. The Dublin-based company, long Europe's fastest-growing airline with a sell-it-cheap, stack-'em-high philosophy, says it hopes to capture three-fourths of all business travel between Britain and Ireland, its two biggest markets. The move reflects not just the airline's desire to leverage its huge presence in Europe, but also a growing interest for low-cost executive travel.

  • Keaton hailed in Venice Film Fest opener 'Birdman'

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    VENICE, Italy (AP) — Well before the turn of the millennium, Michael Keaton was the first 21st-century superhero. Keaton's role as Batman in two Tim Burton-directed blockbusters a quarter of a century ago made him a global star, and helped spawn a Hollywood obsession with comic-book franchises that has put a generation of leading men into spandex. Whether that was good for the movies, or the stars, is at the heart of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," which opened the 71st Venice Film Festival on Wednesday. The soul-searching supernatural comedy-drama stars Keaton as Riggan Thomson, an over-the-hill actor, once famous as avian superhero Birdman, struggling to regain his se

  • Spanish chain pulls kids' shirt after outcry

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    MADRID (AP) — Spanish fashion retailer Inditex said Wednesday it has withdrawn a children's shirt that triggered an outcry from people who said it was reminiscent of the clothes Jews were made to wear at Nazi concentration camps. The long-sleeved shirt with horizontal dark stripes and a six-pointed yellow star on the left side of the chest prompted a storm on social media, with many people finding the shirt distasteful because it conjured up memories of the Holocaust. "It was only on sale for a few hours, only online, it didn't hit the stores" said a spokeswoman with Inditex, which owns the chain Zara where the shirt was sold. "It was withdrawn this morning.

  • Erdogan rules out obedient role for successor

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday rejected claims that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is set to replace him as prime minister, would merely do his bidding as he continues to rule Turkey from behind the scenes. His comments during a farewell speech to delegates of his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, come amid widespread expectations that Davutoglu would take more of a backseat role and that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade, would maintain his grip on government. Although the office of president is mainly ceremonial, Erdogan has indicated he wants to transform the position to an executive one.

  • Finland, Sweden increase ties to NATO

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    HELSINKI (AP) — Finland and Sweden plan to work more closely with NATO by signing a pact that allows assistance from alliance troops in the Nordic countries in emergency situations, officials said Wednesday. The move comes as NATO prepares for a summit next week in Wales amid heightened tensions with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia. The Finnish government said the Host Nation Support agreement applies to situations which include "disasters, disruptions and threats to security." It also enables joint training exercises and military cooperation. Finnish Defense Ministry senior adviser Mika Varvikko said Finland intends to sign the agreement at next week's

  • UN scientist with Ebola in Germany for treatment

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — A scientist who was infected with Ebola while working for the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone began receiving treatment Wednesday in a Hamburg hospital after being flown overnight to Germany. The man, whose name and condition are being withheld for patient privacy reasons, is being treated at the U.N. agency's request in city's University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, home to the well-known Bernhard-Nocht Clinic for Tropical Medicine. "Hamburg has a special expertise in caring for tropical diseases," said Internal Medicine director Ansgar Lohse. "That's the reason the request was addressed to us." WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib identified the patient as a man from Senegal infected while worki

  • Earthquakes rock Iceland volcano

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — Earthquakes are rocking Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano, adding to concerns that magma movements may trigger an eruption that could hinder air traffic. Iceland's Met Office says two earthquakes measuring over magnitude 5 shook the volcano under the vast Vatnajokull glacier on Wednesday. Some 500 quakes have hit the area since midnight. Iceland's aviation alert level remains at orange, the second highest. On Sunday, the Met Office lowered the alert level, saying there was no sign of an imminent eruption at Bardarbunga. In 2010, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano erupted and sparked off a week of international aviation chaos.

  • Germany plans to tighten EU migration rules

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — The German government proposed measures Wednesday to tighten migration regulations for citizens from elsewhere in the European Union amid accusations of welfare abuse by poor immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet was proposing a six-month limit on EU citizens staying in the country, which is Europe's biggest economy, without a job. In addition, he said EU citizens suspected of having abused Germany's welfare system can be banned from re-entering the country. "Freedom of movement is an essential part of the European integration, which we fully stand behind," de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin. "However, that does not mean we should c

  • Bulgarian poet Valeri Petrov dies

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Valeri Petrov, Bulgaria's most prominent contemporary poet, who translated the complete works of Shakespeare, has died at age 94. Petrov's family said he died Wednesday in a Sofia hospital following a stroke. Valeri Nissim Mevorah, better known by his pen-name, Valeri Petrov, was born on April 22, 1920, in Sofia to a Jewish father and Bulgarian mother. Besides poems, novels and translations from Russian, Italian and English, Petrov authored numerous film scripts and plays — both for adults and children. During World War II he took part in the resistance against the pro-Nazi regime in Bulgaria and remained close to left-wing political thought through his life.

  • Experts find 283 DNA samples from MH17 site

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Experts working to identify the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 have gathered DNA samples from 283 people and have positively identified 173. Wim Heijnen of the Netherlands Forensic Institute said Wednesday the DNA samples do not all correspond to a victim's identification. Some of the samples could be from workers who gathered the bodies where the jet was shot down in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board died when the plane heading to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was shot out of the sky on July 17 over an area controlled by pro-Russia separatists. Scores of forensic experts have been working for weeks to identify bodies and incomplete sets of remains gathered from the scene and

  • Scottish businesses: no case for independence

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — A group of 130 business leaders in Scotland have signed an open letter arguing that the case for independence from Britain has not been made. The leaders say much is at stake but uncertainties surround a number of key issues should Scotland vote to break away from Britain on Sept. 18. The leaders say vital issues such as what currency the country would use remain unresolved. Questions also remain on taxes, pensions and the country's membership in the European Union. Signatories include top executives in HSBC Holdings, the Co-operative Bank and Cairn Energy as well as the heads of the largest producers of whisky, including brands Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and Glenfiddich.

  • Annual tomato battle leaves Spanish town red

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    BUNOL, Spain (AP) — The streets of an eastern Spanish town are awash with red pulp as thousands of people pelt each other with tomatoes in the annual "Tomatina" battle that has become a major tourist attraction. At the annual fiesta in Bunol on Wednesday, trucks dumped 125 tons of ripe tomatoes for some 22,000 participants —many from abroad — to throw during the hour-long morning festivities. This was the second year non-resident participants were charged — 10 euros ($13) — to take part. The town of about 20,000 people began charging to help pay off debts of some 5.5 million euros. The event was sold out weeks ahead. The event was inspired by a food fight between local children in 1945 in the tomato-producing