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Obama calls Putin on crisis

US President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States is deeply concerned that Russia is ramping up support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. It was the first conversation between the leaders since the US and Europe slapped a new round of economic sanctions on Moscow.

In a phone call, Obama also raised concerns that Russia violated a key Cold War era nuclear weapons treaty, the White House said. The Obama administration has said Russia violated a 1987 treaty that bars the possession, production or testing of certain intermediate-range cruise missiles.

The Kremlin said Putin had characterised the sanctions as counterproductive, adding that they seriously damage bilateral cooperation and general global stability.

Comic originals up for auction

Batman creator Bob Kane's own copies of the Caped Crusader's earliest appearances are going up for auction.

ComicConnect is selling Kane's file copies of Detective Comics Nos. 27 through 45 and Batman Nos. 1 through 3. The auction house declined to put an estimate on their value, saying says such items rarely come up for sale.

The five-session auction begins on Monday and runs through up to August 29.

Bodies found off Pakistan

Pakistan's navy has recovered the bodies of at least 30 people who drowned earlier this week when strong winds swept through the country's southern beaches near the city of Karachi.

An undetermined number of picnickers were swept away on Wednesday because of heavy winds on beaches near Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.

Space send-off for dead pets

A TEXAN company which already sends human remains out of this world is to offer the same memorial space flights for pets.

Celestis announced that rockets carrying the cremated remains of dogs and cats will start in the autumn. The cost will be about the same as for human remains sent into space and returned, starting at about €739.