By Tom Perry BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government and rebel forces battled for control of high ground on the Aleppo outskirts on Saturday as warplanes bombed the city's opposition-held east relentlessly in a Russian-backed offensive that has left Washington's Syria policy in tatters. In their first major ground advance of the offensive, the army and its militia allies seized control of the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp, a few kilometers north of Aleppo, only for rebels to counterattack a few hours later. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle was ongoing.
An unidentified type of explosion rocked central Budapest late on Saturday, causing injuries to two police officers nearby, police said in a statement on Sunday. Police cordoned off a wide area around the Oktogon square in central Budapest and told residents to leave the buildings nearest the blast, local media reported.
By Gordana Katana BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - The Bosnian Serbs vote on Sunday in a referendum over a disputed national holiday, defying Bosnia's highest court and Western pressure to call off a process that risks stoking ethnic tensions in the divided Balkan country. The referendum, on whether to mark Jan. 9 as "Statehood Day" in the Serb Republic part of Bosnia, will be the first since a 1992 plebiscite on secession from then-Yugoslavia that ignited three years of ethnic war in which 100,000 were killed. The Sarajevo-based Constitutional Court has ruled that the holiday would be illegal because it coincides with a Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday and so discriminates against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats living in the Serb Republic.
By Hugh Bronstein UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Ecuador hopes that the October questioning of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in the country's London Embassy since 2012, will mark the "beginning of the end" of the legal deadlock over case, Ecuador's foreign minister said. Wikileaks burst onto the world scene in 2010 when it collaborated with media organizations to release U.S. State Department diplomatic cables. A Swedish appeals court last week upheld an arrest warrant for Assange, clearing the way for him to be questioned in Ecuador's London embassy on Oct. 17.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently visiting the United States, will separately meet U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sunday, campaign sources and Israeli officials said. The meetings will take place a day before Clinton and Trump face off in a first presidential debate but no details of where or when the meetings will take place were immediately available. Netanyahu traveled to the United States this week to address the U.N. General Assembly and met U.S. President Barack Obama and a number of other world leaders. ...
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang met with Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday during a two-day trip to Havana, and the two leaders oversaw the signing of around 30 agreements on economic cooperation in various sectors, Cuban state media reported. Li is the first Chinese premier to visit Cuba since the two countries established diplomatic relations 56 years ago, although President Xi Jinping visited in 2014. China is Cuba's second largest trading partner after Venezuela.
By David Brunnstrom UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told the United Nations on Saturday his country's new president, Rodrigo Duterte, had an "unprecedented" mandate and the world should not interfere in his crackdown on crime. Addressing the annual U.N. General Assembly, Yasay said the Duterte government was "determined to free the Philippines from corrupt and other stagnating practices, including the manufacture, distribution and use of illicit drugs. "We urge everyone to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals without undue interference." Duterte won a landslide election victory on May 9 after vowing to wipe out drugs and crime.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After fleeing North Korea to avoid extreme poverty and oppression, the young woman allowed a stranger to arrange a marriage for her with a rural Chinese farmer because she had nowhere to go. An even more painful decision came later. She said severe abuse by her husband, including once being tied to a post, and the constant fear police would send her back to the North to face torture and prison convinced her that she needed to flee to South Korea. She decided she had to make the risky journey alone, leaving behind the young daughter she had with her Chinese husband.
Spain's Basque country and Galicia go to the polls Sunday in regional elections that may help unblock the long-lasting national political paralysis. The country is stuck in limbo, run by a government without full powers following two inconclusive elections which the conservative Popular Party (PP) won without an absolute majority, and which have seen parties unable to reach any coalition deal. As such, mainstream parties will be watching the regional elections closely to see if they lose ground to upstarts or nationalist groupings, and none more so than the Socialist party (PSOE) which polls say will fare badly.
LONDON (AP) — London police say they have arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of hacking the iCloud account of Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, and stealing 3,000 photographs.
When he booked his tour, Swiss lawyer Rafael Studer hadn't seriously considered the option of jumping out of a Russian-made helicopter at 2,000 meters strapped to a North Korean soldier. Coming just weeks after the North conducted its fifth nuclear test, triggering global condemnation and the threat of fresh sanctions, the show drew several hundred foreign aviation enthusiasts who paid for brief flights in Soviet-era aircraft.
GENEVA (AP) — Swiss voters were deciding Sunday whether to back a new law aimed at strengthening the ability of intelligence services to counter rapidly-evolving threats posed by spies, criminal hackers and violent extremists.
BAGHDAD (AP) — An unlikely array of forces is converging on the city of Mosul, lining up for a battle on the historic plains of northern Iraq that is likely to be decisive in the war against the Islamic State group.
Thousands marched in Mexico City Saturday against same-sex marriage, which President Enrique Pena Nieto supports, while hundreds of gay rights supporters rallied nearby. "I think the government... wants to keep us from raising our children the way we want," 38-year-old housewife Miriam Garrido, who is against gay marriage, told AFP. The Front strongly opposes same-sex couples adopting children, and also opposes teaching about homosexuality and transsexuality in school sex education classes.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it was time for a new direction in relations with Cuba, during a landmark visit to the Americas' lone communist-ruled state. During the first visit by a Chinese premier since the two countries established diplomatic relations 56 years ago Li pledged to "inject a new dynamic in (bilateral) relations," Cuban state media reported. Li met with President Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution, with the two communist countries signing about 30 cooperation agreements in a wide range of areas, including a protocol canceling Cuban debts and four loan deals for projects on the island, according to local television.
Columns of steam shoot from the ground at an Indonesian power plant sitting in the shadow of an active volcano, as energy is tapped from the red-hot underbelly of the archipelago. Pipes zig-zag up rugged mountainsides covered in tea plantations, carrying steam from the Earth's core to power enormous, electricity-generating turbines at the Wayang Windu facility on Java island. Indonesia, a seismically-active island chain studded with scores of volcanoes, holds an estimated 40 percent of the world's geothermal energy reserves, but has long lagged behind in its use of the renewable power source.
From real estate, to high-tech firms to entertainment giants, Chinese investments in the United States, notably California, are moving at a dizzying pace and are on course to smash records again this year. Chinese companies shelled out a record $15 billion last year in the US and that figure could more than double in 2016, according to research firm Rhodium Group and the National Committee on US-China Relations. California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, has been at the forefront of China's appetite to invest overseas, with billions of dollars going into the technology, renewable energy and entertainment sectors, and increasingly into real estate.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean defectors who became brides for rural Chinese men, they faced another excruciating choice when they suffered abuse: to flee to South Korea and leave their children. Women who've made that choice have lived with the guilt and shame for years, but some are breaking their silence and trying to get international help for their situation. What some of the women told The Associated Press about their experiences:
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Saturday he was "appalled by the chilling military escalation" in Syria's battleground city of Aleppo where residents cowered indoors as air strikes toppled buildings and killed at least 45 civilians. The Security Council was set to meet Sunday to discuss the upsurge in violence since the Syrian army announced an offensive to retake the rebel-held east of the devastated city. Nearly two million civilians were left without water in Aleppo after regime bombardment damaged a pumping station and rebels shut down another in retaliation, the UN said.
The pressure is intense for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton -- phenomenally different candidates -- who clash in their first debate on Monday. Polls show a close race, with Clinton, 68, enjoying an edge.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The fedora, the bomber jacket and the consuming quest invite comparisons to Indiana Jones. Blaine Gibson, though, hasn't matched the film hero's triumph in finding the legendary chest containing the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Not that he didn't try. "The Ark of the Covenant, I did not find it. However, I do believe that it's in Ethiopia somewhere," Gibson told AP recently. The amateur sleuth has had far greater success finding clues from a modern mystery: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. He is the first person searching for the plane who's actually found any trace of it and says he won't quit gathering clues until the mystery is solved.
By Yara Bayoumy NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yemen plans to complain to the U.N. Security Council over what it says are Iran's weapon transfers to Houthi allies fighting the internationally recognized Yemeni government, the foreign minister said on Saturday. In an interview with Reuters, Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi also said he hoped a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire would take effect "early next week." Yemen and Saudi Arabia - which intervened in the country in March 2015 to prevent the Houthis and forces loyal to the former president from taking over - blame Shi'ite Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis.
A social media firestorm that forced Disney to withdraw a movie costume amid accusations it represented "brown face" shows Pacific islanders will no longer accept their culture being cheapened for profit, experts say. Polynesian culture has proved popular in recent years, sparking fads for island-style tattoos, hipster "tiki" bars in the United States and numerous imitations of New Zealand's famous All Black rugby haka. The latest attempt to capitalise on the trend is Disney's animated feature "Moana", a retelling of ancient Pacific legends which is due for release later this year.
VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) — Little Princess Charlotte, Prince George and their parents, Prince William and Kate, arrived in Canada on Saturday for their first official trip overseas as a family of four.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops captured a rebel-held area on the edge of Aleppo on Saturday, tightening their siege on opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city after what residents described as the heaviest air bombardment of the 5 ½-year civil war.
1. Holders Europe have won three Ryder Cups in a row, six of the past seven, eight of the past 10 and 10 of the past 15 events. The United States owns a 25-13 with two drawn edge in the overall rivalry. 2. English businessman Samuel Ryder donated the gold trophy for the event that bears his name.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side's confidence is high ahead of their Champions League clash against Manchester City following their thrashing of Kilmarnock. The Hoops warmed up for Wednesday's Group C match with a comprehensive 6-1 defeat of Killie in Glasgow's East End to maintain their unbeaten start to the domestic season. Rodgers' side are top of the Scottish Premiership, five points clear of Hearts with a game in hand, and booked a League Cup semi-final clash with rivals Rangers next month following their defeat of third-tier Alloa Athletic in midweek.