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EU proposal could punish Israel for settlements

EU proposal could result in 'actions' against Israel over settlement construction
Josef Federman, The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - An internal European Union document proposes unspecified "actions" against Israel for its settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, reflecting unhappiness with the lack of progress in Mideast peace efforts.

Tough stances from Putin, Merkel over Ukraine

Putin, Merkel talk tough about Ukraine: Moscow won't let pro-Russian rebels be defeated
Laura Mills, The Associated Press

MOSCOW - The leaders of Russia and Germany squared off over Ukraine from opposite sides of the globe, with Vladimir Putin warning that Moscow will not accept a defeat for the pro-Russian rebels and Angela Merkel accusing the Kremlin of undermining peace across Europe.

Poles, Russians expel diplomats over spying

Poles, Russians expel diplomats in tit-for-tat affair as spy catching gets more notice
Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland - Russian and Polish officials confirmed Monday that they have carried out tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions in an espionage affair that highlights intensified efforts by Moscow to penetrate NATO counties and a new determination by the West to fight back.

President pelted on Velvet Revolution anniversary

Czechs pelt president with eggs as they mark 25th anniversary of Velvet Revolution
Karel Janicek, The Associated Press

PRAGUE - Celebrations on Monday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution felt more like an uprising against the current Czech president.

To cries of "Resign! Resign!" Czechs pelted President Milos Zeman with objects including eggs, sandwiches and tomatoes as he stood side-by-side with the presidents of Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia at the university campus where a student rally launched the revolution in Czechoslovakia a quarter century ago.

TV anchor's fashion sense gets attention, finally

Australian TV anchor finally gets attention for his fashion choice, and that's his point
The Associated Press

SYDNEY - The male co-host of an Australian TV program is finally getting some attention for his fashion sense. And that's his point.

Karl Stefanovic wore the same blue suit every day for a year on Channel Nine's "Today" program. And no one noticed until he went public with his hidden-in-plain-sight experiment.

He told Australia's Fairfax Media that while no one asked about his suit, people regularly commented about and criticized the outfits worn by co-host Lisa Wilkinson.

Belgian judge charges HSBC branch with fraud

Belgian judge charges HSBC private bank branch with massive fiscal fraud
Raf Casert, The Associated Press

BRUSSELS - A Belgian investigating judge has charged a Swiss private banking branch of HSBC with massive organized fiscal fraud, money laundering and forming a criminal organization to the benefit of over 1,000 wealthy clients that cost the Belgian authorities "hundreds of millions of euros."

The prosecutor's office said Monday the accusations against HSBC Private Bank NV/SA are based on its involvement over the years with "wealthy clients, specifically from the Antwerp diamond industry." It said the justice ministry is also looking into possible money laundering.

Israel to step up demolition of Palestinian homes

Israel to step up punitive demolitions, gives notices to families of Palestinians attackers
The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Israel said Monday it has sent notices to the families of several Palestinians in the West Bank implicated in attacks against Israelis to vacate their homes ahead of their impending demolitions.

The development indicated that Israel is intensifying its much maligned policy of punitive destructions of homes of suspected attackers.

Thai elephant tramples man, runs off with tourists

Elephant tramples Thai handler to death, runs off with 2 foreign tourists on its back
The Associated Press

BANGKOK - An elephant trampled its handler to death and ran off with two Russian tourists — a mother and her 9-year-old daughter — who were riding it during a trek in southern Thailand, police said Monday.

Rescue teams tracked down the elephant about 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) away and tranquilized it to rescue the tourists clinging to its back, police Lt. Col. Narong Laksanawimol said.

"It took almost three hours for the elephant to calm down completely. We had to tie it to a tree," Narong said by telephone.

US: 172 people on cruise fell ill with norovirus

US officials say 172 people on California-bound cruise fell ill with norovirus
Associated Press, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A cruise ship docked in California on Sunday after 172 people on board fell ill with the highly contagious norovirus during a nearly monthlong trip, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Some of the more than 4,100 people aboard the Crown Princess began to show signs of the gastrointestinal sickness a few days into the voyage from Los Angeles to Hawaii to Tahiti.

The ill passengers and crew members were treated on the ship.

A CDC official was expected to board the ship to investigate the outbreak and the cruise line's response.

Halliburton buying Baker Hughes in $34.6B deal

Halliburton buying Baker Hughes in cash-and-stock deal valued $34.6 billion
The Associated Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Halliburton is buying rival oilfield services company Baker Hughes in a cash-and-stock deal worth $34.6 billion.

The deal comes just days after talks between the two had stalled and Halliburton prepared to go hostile with its takeover bid. The combined energy company would generate slightly larger revenue than Schlumberger Ltd., currently the world's biggest oil services company.

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