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News Digest: Pregnant Kate to make final decision on solo Malta trip

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will announce today whether Kate is well enough to travel to Malta for her first official solo overseas tour, Kensington Palace has said.

William and his pregnant wife Kate, who has been suffering from a severe form of morning sickness, will consult her doctors before they make their final decision.

It is likely a member of the royal family is on standby to take the Duchess's place if the conclusion is she will not travel this weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Malta's independence.

The Duchess is suffering from another bout of the illness hyperemesis gravidarum.

Obama says no to troops in Iraq

President Barack Obama has told US troops that he will not send them into combat in Iraq to fight Islamic State extremists.

"The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission," Mr Obama told troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

It was a firm response to recent suggestions by his top military commander that under certain circumstances, US ground forces may be needed.

Mr Obama said US troops "will support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists".

But, he added: "As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq."

Earlier, the Islamic State group released a video warning the US that fighters await in Iraq if Mr Obama sent troops there.

The video was released after the US military stepped up its campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants with a series of airstrikes across Iraq and Syria.

The 52-second film, entitled 'Flames of War', shows militants blowing up tanks, wounded US soldiers and others about to be killed.

Briton takes part in Ebola trials

A healthy Briton has become the first volunteer to receive a potentially life-saving new vaccine to tackle the Ebola virus spreading through West Africa.

Ruth Atkins, a communications manager in the NHS from Marcham in Oxfordshire, was injected with the experimental drug yesterday as part of a safety trial carried out by experts at the University of Oxford.

She is one of 60 volunteers who are taking part in the UK trial over the coming weeks which has been fast-tracked because of the worsening outbreak. Two more volunteers will be given the jab on Friday.

Ms Atkins, who has also worked as a nurse in the NHS, said: "I feel absolutely fine – it felt no different to being vaccinated before going on holiday."

She added: "It's that one step and I'm part of that first step."

Ms Atkins (48), who was only accepted for the trial on Monday after completing screening tests last week, will keep a diary of her side-effects over the next eight weeks and undergo regular blood tests.

Hotel tycoon orders 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms

A tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms for his luxury Macau hotel-resort.

Stephen Hung's purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in 2006. Mr Hung and Rolls-Royce executives signed the deal yesterday at the company's Goodwood factory.

Rolls-Royce said two of the cars will be the most expensive Phantoms ever built. The regular list price is around $600,000 (£368,000).

Pope giving his backing to first Sri Lankan saint

Pope Francis has signed off on Sri Lanka's first saint, bending Vatican rules to bypass confirmation of a miracle.

Francis is expected to canonise the Rev Giuseppe Baz, a 17th-century missionary, during his January visit to Sri Lanka.

Vaz was born in India in 1651 but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, who were Calvinists. He is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country.

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