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BC-AP--Europe-News Digest, AP

August 27, 2014

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1130 GMT

UKRAINE

NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine — Separatist rebels shell a town in southeastern Ukraine, raising fears they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region, one day after the leaders of Ukraine and Russia met to discuss the escalating crisis. In response to outgoing fire Wednesday, rebel forces lob at least 10 shells at the government-held town of Novoazovsk. Plumes of black smoke rise above the town, which was also hit repeatedly by shelling Tuesday, injuring four people in a hospital, mayor Oleg Sidorkin said. By Peter Leonard, AP Photos. SENT: 430 words, UPCOMING: 600 by 1330 GMT

SYRIA

GENEVA — The independent U.N. commission on Syrian war crimes says the Islamic State group has committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two provinces in the country. The commission says the widespread and systematic killings by Islamic State, which now controls a swath of north and eastern Syria, occurred both in the northern province of Aleppo and in the northeastern region of Raqqa, a stronghold of the group. By John Heilprin. AP Photos. SENT: 290 words, UPCOMING: 540 by 1200 GMT

FRANCE-LAGARDE-CORRUPTION

PARIS — Christine Lagarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, is placed under official investigation for negligence in a French corruption probe that dates back to her days as France’s finance minister. In a statement after a fourth round of questioning before magistrates, Lagarde says she will return to her work in Washington later in the day and says the decision is “without basis.” By Lori Hinnant. AP Photos. SENT: 230 words, UPCOMING: 350 by 1300 GMT

BRITAIN-SEX-ABUSE

LONDON — Members of Britain’s Pakistani community express outrage after an independent inquiry finds that police and government agencies failed to act on sex abuse cases because of concerns about racism in the northern English town of Rotherham. Muhbeen Hussain, founder of the Rotherham Muslim Youth Group, tells the Daily Mirror that Muslims are disgusted that justice was not done. A report Tuesday said some 1,400 children were sexually exploited over a 16-year period, mostly by ethnic Pakistani men. By Danica Kirka and Silvia Hui. AP Photos. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 500 words by 1400 GMT

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL-BIRDMAN

VENICE, Italy — A film in which art and fame battle it out in the streets and skies of Manhattan kicks off the 71st Venice Film Festival, where high-art aspirations mix with Hollywood hopes. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” stars former “Batman” Michael Keaton as an over-the-hill action star struggling to recover a sense of self-worth by mounting a heavyweight Broadway play. By Jill Lawless. AP Photos. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 300 words by 1400 GMT

NETHERLANDS-UKRAINE-PLANE

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Experts working to identify the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 say they have gathered DNA samples from 283 different people and have positively identified 173 of them. Wim Heijnen of the Netherlands Forensic Institute said Wednesday the DNA samples do not all equate to a positive identification of a victim. Some of the samples could be from workers who gathered the bodies where the jet was shot down in eastern Ukraine. By Mike Corder, AP photos. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 300 by 1330 GMT

IRELAND-RYANAIR-BUSINESS-TRAVEL

DUBLIN — Europe’s largest budget airline, Ryanair, has launched a flexible business-class ticket as it tries to make the most of a new sense of frugality among the region’s debt-laden governments and companies. The Dublin-based company, long Europe’s fastest-growing carrier with a sell-it-cheap, stack-’em-high philosophy, says more than a quarter of its passengers already are business travelers. It hopes to capture three-fourths of all work travel between Britain and Ireland, its two biggest markets. The move reflects not just the carrier’s desire to leverage its huge presence in Europe, but also says something about how Europe is becoming increasingly cost-conscious amid an economic recovery that has stalled. By Shawn Pogatchnik. AP photos. SENT: 470 word, UPCOMING: 550 by 1430 GMT

SPAIN-TOMATO-FIGHT

BUNOL, Spain — 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. By Alberto Saiz. AP Photos. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 300 by 1300 GMT

TURKEY-POLITICS

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s ruling party convenes to confirm Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as its new chairman and prime minister-designate, to replace Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he becomes president — a position he has pledged to transform from a ceremonial post to one of real power. Erdogan hand-picked his stalwart ally to succeed him and the 55-year old is standing unopposed for chairman of the Justice and Development Party at its extraordinary congress. Erdogan, Turkey’s first popularly elected president, is to be sworn in Thursday. By Suzan Fraser. AP photos. SENT: 310 words

GERMANY-EBOLA

BERLIN — A scientist who was infected with Ebola while working for the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone arrives in Germany for treatment in a Hamburg hospital, officials say. Hamburg health department spokesman Roland Ahrendt says the man would be treated in the city’s UKE hospital at the U.N. agency’s request. By David Rising. AP Photos. SENT: 370 words

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND

LONDON — A group of 130 business leaders in Scotland sign 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. AP Photos. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 300 words by 1500 GMT

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — A closely-watched survey shows economic expectations among German consumers have “completely collapsed” over concerns about the conflicts in Iraq, Israel and Ukraine. The GfK institute says its latest index of economic expectations slid 35.5 points in August to 10.4 — the largest one-month decline since the survey began in 1980. SENT: 130 words

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