Australia: The humble sausage in bread with tomato sauce could be putting Aussies' health at risk as it contains almost half an adult's daily recommended salt intake in one hit, new research reveals. More than 100 processed meats from sausages, ham to bacon from Australia's major supermarkets were compared for their salt content in the research by the George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation. Australians eat about 1.1 billion sausages each year containing 1500 tonnes of salt. Report lead author and nutritionist Clare Farrand said some sausages contained 2g of salt per serving which was almost 80 per cent of a person's total daily salt intake. Heart Foundation Victoria dietitian Sian Armstrong said there had been a drop in the salt in bacon and sliced meat products — but not sausages. "The average Aussie eats 44 sausages a year totalling 16 teaspoons of salt. Excess salt is directly linked to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, kidney disease and stroke."

United States: President Donald Trump has toured the US border with Mexico and examined eight styles of walls, prototypes for the barrier he promised to build to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs. Standing beside the prototypes, as US border patrol agents rode nearby on horseback, Trump discussed the merits of various designs with border officials, his chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "The border wall is truly our first line of defence," Trump told reporters. Trump has asked the US Congress for US$18 billion to build the structure. On the other side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, residents laughed off the idea that the monolithic slabs will stop desperate immigrants. "The wall is just a waste of money. People will continue to cross, here, there, and everywhere," said Salome Pacheco.

Venezuela: Police arrested Hugo Chavez's powerful former spy chief, on accusations of sowing unrest as he leads a movement of disgruntled leftists seeking to replace President Nicolas Maduro. Miguel Rodriguez Torres was speaking at an event organised by female activists from his political movement in a Caracas hotel when he calmly stopped his speech and left the podium, saying he had "received a notification that requires me to urgently leave." Moments later, he was escorted into the back of a police vehicle and driven away by what witnesses said were heavily armed agents from the Sebin intelligence police — the same force he created in 2010 while serving as Chavez's trusted adviser.

United States: A lawyer for US President Donald Trump has ignored a deadline on an adult-film star's offer to return US$130,000 in hush money so she can speak freely about an alleged affair with Trump. In a letter to Michael Cohen, actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, offered to send US$130,000 to an account designated by Trump so she could be released from a non-disclosure agreement she signed in October 2016. Once a new agreement is signed, the letter said, Clifford would also be able to use and publish any text messages, photos and videos relating to Trump that she might possess. Cohen, a private lawyer for Trump, has said he paid Clifford $US130,000 of his own money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Clifford could face a US$1 million penalty if she breaks the non-disclosure agreement. She taped an interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes last week that has yet to be aired.


Syria:Turkey said its troops and allied Syrian fighters have encircled the Kurdish-held town of Afrin in northern Syria, putting hundreds of thousands of civilians under siege and marking a significant military advance in the seven-week operation. Turkey launched its assault on the border enclave on Jan. 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces that it views as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey. A passage out of Afrin remained partially open, and thousands of people have reportedly fled the town, heading toward nearby areas controlled by the Syrian government. Syria's Al-Ikhbariya TV showed cars, trucks and tractors loaded with civilians driving out of the town.

United States: Florida prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, the former student accused of murdering 17 people in a shooting spree last month at a Parkland high school. Michael Satz, the state attorney for Broward County, has filed a notice with Judge Elizabeth Scherer of his office's intent to seek the death sentence, ahead of a court hearing tomorrow.

Britain: Thousands of job hunters have applied for a UK position requiring them to play with Lego — and it is paying up to £27,000. More than 5000 applicants have submitted their CVs for the role of master model builder located at a custom-built studio next to the new Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham, bosses said. The post is one of just 22 in the world and has attracted interest from around the globe. The job description says the successful applicant will construct structure attractions, curate exhibitions and mentor children and families in the creation of their own model masterpieces.

Germany: Berlin police said they are investigating social media users who spread false information about the killing of a teenage girl in the German capital last week. The killing of 14-year-old Keira G. in her home sparked a flurry of posts by far-right groups and individuals alleging the crime had been committed by a migrant, and accusing the authorities of hiding the culprit's identity. A 15-year-old German suspect in the March 7 slaying was arrested on Monday.

- agencies