World news briefs: 7/5/14

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Editor to prison in hacking case

LONDON -- A judge on Friday sentenced Andy Coulson, a former senior editor in Rupert Murdoch's news empire and a onetime adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, to 18 months in prison for his part in the phone-hacking scandal that convulsed Britain's press, police and political elite and inspired calls for tighter regulation of journalists.

After a trial that spanned almost eight months, Coulson was found guilty last week on a charge of conspiring to intercept phone messages.

Standing alongside him in the courtroom were four other people involved in the hacking scandal who had admitted their part in the scandal earlier in the trial and who were sentenced to up to six months.

Ukraine fighting persists

KIEV, Ukraine -- Fighting in eastern Ukraine left at least nine Ukrainian soldiers dead Friday, as government troops pressed their offensive against pro-Russian insurgents using heavy artillery and combat jets , while prospects of a truce appeared dim.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine was ready to conduct another round of talks between representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the rebels Saturday, but didn't name their venue. Two previous rounds of such negotiations held during a 10-day cease-fire have yielded no visible progress, but they brought the warring parties together for the first time.

The continuing fighting is putting more pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been facing increasingly angry nationalist demands to send troops to help the insurgency -- a move that would inevitably trigger crippling Western sanctions.

Stabbing rattles France

PARIS -- The mother of a pupil at a French preschool stabbed a teacher to death in front of her class Friday, the last day of the school year, authorities said.

The education minister said the mother apparently had "serious psychiatric problems," and pledged support for teachers in the face of angry or violent parents. Police said the mother was taken into custody.

Deadly attacks in a school are extremely rare in France, and the stabbing in front of a class of 5- and 6-year-olds raised concern at the highest levels. French President Francois Hollande expressed outrage at the attack at the Edouard Herriot school in Albi in southern France.

Chinese leader stirs tension

SEOUL, South Korea -- China's visiting president, Xi Jinping, reminded South Koreans on Friday that their two countries had fought "shoulder to shoulder" against Japan more than four centuries ago, highlighting what analysts have called the main goal of his visit: unsettling America's alliances in northeast Asia.

Japan and South Korea are the United States' closest allies in Asia, and the Obama administration has been struggling for months to thaw a chill in relations between them as it seeks to counterbalance China's rise. Mr. Xi's remarks were viewed by analysts as trying to take advantage of the rift.

Also in the world ...

A London judge sentenced Rolf Harris, the Australian-born ex-host of British Broadcasting Corp. television shows, to five years and nine months in prison for indecently assaulting young girls and a woman. ... A car bomb in a marketplace in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of Boko Haram extremism, killed at least 56 people Tuesday, the leader of a civilian group that recovered the bodies said.


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