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Activist climbs pole to pull down controversial flag

In the wake of the recent racially-motivated church shooting in Charleston which claimed the lives of nine black parishioners, there have been calls to ban the Confederate flag.

In South Carolina, an activist, named locally as Bree Newsome, climbed the flagpole outside its statehouse and removed the controversial flag.

The flag is widely considered to be a symbol of racial oppression as it was often used as a sign of protest of the abolition of slavery.

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Escaped US convict shot and killed

Richard Matt (left) has been killed, officials said Credit: Reuters

One of two convicted killers who escaped from a New York maximum security prison has been shot and killed.

Richard Matt has been killed and David Sweat is still on the run, officials said.

Matt and Sweat used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, made a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall and escaped early on 6 June from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border.

Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff's deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss.

A prison guard and a prison tailor shop instructor have been accused of helping the inmates escape.

Nine people killed in small plane crash in Alaska

Nine people including the pilot were killed when a sightseeing plane crashed into a cliff face in Alaska, it has been confirmed.

Promech Air, which operates the flight, said all those on board were killed when the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter single-engine prop plane came down during a tour of the Misty Fjords.

The USA's National Transportation Safety Board said the plane had been found 800ft above Ella Lake in Ketchikan, after apparently going missing just one hour earlier.

Obama tells Putin: Remove all Russian troops from Ukraine

US President Barack Obama has told his Russian counterpart that he needs to remove all "troops and equipment" from Ukrainian territory.

In a statement, the White House revealed Vladimir Putin phoned Obama for their first call since February, to discuss the Iran nuclear talks, the "increasingly dangerous situation in Syria", tackling Islamic State extremists and the situation in Ukraine.

Obama reportedly told Putin that Russia must live up to the terms of a ceasefire deal with the neighbouring country, "including the removal of all Russian troops and equipment from Ukrainian territory", the statement added.

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Second prison worker held over 'Shawshank' escape

Gene Palmer is said to have smuggled tools to the inmates hidden inside ground beef. Credit: New York State Police

A second prison worker has been arrested for allegedly helping two inmates pull off a "Shawshank Redemption" style escape.

Convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat used power tools to break out of New York's Clinton Correctional Facility.

Prison tailor Joyce Mitchell - who was arrested earlier this month - has admitted smuggling the escape tools to the prisoners hidden inside raw ground beef, officials said.

Now Gene Palmer, who worked in the cell block where the pair were housed, is accused of passing the meat onto them, which is said to have contained a screwdriver and a wench.

His lawyer Andrew Brockway told NBC News his client had "no idea" he was concealing contraband and had "made a mistake".

Matt and Sweat are still on the run after escaping more than three weeks ago.

Obama tells Hollande: The US is not spying on you

President Obama has told French President Francois Hollande that the US is not spying on his phone calls.

US and French presidents have discussed the Wikileaks spying claims Credit: Reuters

The two leaders spoke by phone earlier after the release of WikiLeaks documents which claimed the National Security Agency had spied on Hollande and his two predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.

The White House said Mr Obama had "reiterated that we have abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president".

Mr Hollande had earlier described the allegations as "unacceptable between allies".

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