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URGENT: Video shows beheading of second American journalist

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday. A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, a man the group named as David Haines, and warned governments to back off "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State", the monitoring service said. (Reporting by William Maclean, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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RBS's Ulster Bank to close branches after review

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland's Irish unit Ulster Bank will shut nearly 10 percent of its branches, becoming the latest lender to scale back in the wake of Ireland's banking crash.

Local banks and foreign lenders servicing the Irish economy have shut branches and shed thousands of jobs since the crisis hit in 2008. Ulster has already made hundreds of redundancies and last year announced a second round of job cuts involving the departure of 950 staff. It had cut 1,000 jobs in 2009.

The latest redundancies were delayed by an IT failure at the bank last June, which cost Ireland's third-largest lender tens of millions of euros in compensation after salaries failed to appear in accounts and customers' household bills went unpaid.

Ulster said on Thursday it was reviewing its 226 branches, which are spilt between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and expected to be able to provide customers with further details of the closures in the next few weeks.

It said it would close around 20 branches and sub offices in Ireland this year as a result of the review.

Rival Allied Irish Banks , Ireland's second-largest bank, is closing a number of branches as it trims its workforce by almost 20 percent, while permanent tsb is shutting 17 percent of its 92 branches.

Denmark's Danske Bank closed its network of branches last year, although it continues to serve customers through telephone and mobile banking.

Bank of Ireland , the only domestic Irish lender to avoid falling under full state control, has not closed any branches since the crisis, despite also cutting its staff numbers substantially.

(This story corrects paragraph seven in story transmitted on January 3 to clarify that Danske Bank closed branch network and did not exit Irish market)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by David Holmes)

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