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2 members of band flee Russia to avoid arrest

RUSSIA

2 BAND MEMBERS FLEE TO AVOID ARREST

Two members of the punk collective Pussy Riot who had avoided being arrested for their anti-Kremlin demonstrations have fled Russia, the band announced in an online posting on Sunday.

The band's Twitter feed did not say where the two women had fled, or whether they had received political asylum after the conviction and jailing of three of their bandmates this month drew condemnation from many foreign governments and celebrities.

These other two members of the band have never been publicly identified by the police, and they have been referred to only by the nicknames Balaclava and Serafima.

The announcement was confirmed in a telephone interview by Pyotr Verzilov, an informal spokesman for the band who is the husband of one of its jailed band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

WASHINGTON

U.S. arms sales triple to a record $66.3B

Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran's regional ambitions, according to a study for Congress by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress.

Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion, or nearly 78 percent of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.

The American weapons sales total was an "extraordinary increase" over the $21.4 billion in 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year total in the history of U.S. arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, nearly $31 billion.

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Ex-governor engaged to Argentine mistress

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford confirmed Sunday he is engaged to the Argentine woman he secretly left the state to visit under the cover story he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford said a statement announcing his engagement provided to CNN is accurate.

"The only comment I'll stand by is that there was a statement sent to CNN and I stand by its accuracy. I don't know anything beyond that," Sanford told the Associated Press on Sunday.

Sanford was a rising Republican political star before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009. Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But when he returned to South Carolina, the father of four admitted that he was instead in Argentina with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he later called his soul mate.

The episode ended in divorce from his wife, Jenny.

Germany

German official rejects more time for Greece

Germany's economy minister has rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement economic reforms, saying in an interview Sunday that Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors.

Philipp Roesler's comments to ZDF public TV come after a visit by Greece's prime minister to Berlin on Friday, during which Antonis Samaras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his country needs "time to breathe" before it can make all the budget cuts and reforms demanded as part of its $300 billion bailout.

"What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that's not doable," said Roesler, who is also the vice chancellor in Angela Merkel's coalition government.

Elsewhere

SAN DIEGO: Dozens of small to moderate earthquakes rattled Southern California on Sunday, shaking an area from rural Imperial County to the San Diego coast and north into the Coachella Valley. No injuries were reported.

Atlanta: Facing more than $30 million in debt, Morris Brown College officials have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a last-ditch effort to prevent the 131-year-old school from being foreclosed on and sold at auction, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Jordan: Israeli authorities refused entry on Sunday to about 100 pro-Palestinian activists attempting to cross overland to the West Bank from Jordan. The group said it aimed to deliver one ton of school supplies to Palestinian children in refugee camps in Bethlehem.

Togo: Starting today, the female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.

Times wires

2 members of band flee Russia to avoid arrest 08/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 26, 2012 7:52pm]

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