CAIRO

- The head of the Arab League urged its members yesterday to confront Islamic State extremists "militarily and politically," issuing an apparent call to arms as President Obama prepares to go to lawmakers and the American public with his own plan to stop the militants.

Backing from the 22-country Arab League could provide crucial support across the Middle East for Obama's effort to assemble an international coalition against the Islamic State, the marauding group that has conquered a swath of Iraq and Syria and committed beheadings and mass killings to sow terror.

Already, NATO forces have agreed to take on the extremists.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said that what is needed from Arab countries is a "clear and firm decision for a comprehensive confrontation" with "cancerous and terrorist" groups. The Arab League includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Obama plans speech Wednesday on ISIS

WASHINGTON

- President Obama will begin laying out a strategy this week to defeat Islamic State militants in the Middle East, meeting with congressional leaders tomorrow and giving a speech Wednesday, the eve of the 13th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Obama disclosed his plans during an interview broadcast yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I just want the American people to understand the nature of the threat and how we're going to deal with it and to have confidence that we'll be able to deal with it," he said in the interview conducted Saturday at the White House shortly after his return from a NATO summit in Wales where the Islamic State threat was a key topic of discussion.

Obama restated his opposition to sending U.S. ground troops to engage in direct combat with the militants.

At Obama's direction, the U.S. military has conducted more than 130 airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq in the past month. In retaliation, the group recently beheaded two American journalists it had been holding hostage in Syria, where the organization also operates.

Cease-fire shaky in eastern Ukraine

SPARTAK, Ukraine

- Shelling and other clashes between government forces and Russian-backed separatists threw the cease-fire agreement in eastern Ukraine into deepening peril yesterday, two days after it took hold.

At least two houses hit by artillery fire blazed in the rural village of Spartak, just north of the main rebel-held city of Donetsk and adjacent to the airport.

A man whose house was struck by a shell said rebels had fired from a spot nearby, and that apparently provoked a retaliatory attack from Ukrainian government troops.

A group of rebel fighters in the village danced and drank yesterday morning in celebration after what they said was a successful assault on a Ukrainian military encampment in the area. One said the group had captured eight government troops, though no captives could be seen.

Relics from hunt for bin Laden on display

NEW YORK

- The shirt a Navy SEAL wore in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and a special coin given to a CIA officer who played a key role in finding him are being displayed at the Sept. 11 museum, adding potent symbols of the terrorist attacks' aftermath days before their anniversary.

The items went on display yesterday at the Ground Zero museum, where leaders see them as an important and moving addition to a collection that often uses personal artifacts to explore the events and impact of 9/11.

"The death of Osama bin Laden is a huge part of the history, and we have an absolute obligation to tell it," National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum President Joe Daniels said Saturday. The display, he said, "allows millions of visitors the chance to recognize the extraordinary bravery of the men and women who sacrifice so much for this country at home and abroad."

Congress aims to avoid another gov't shutdown

WASHINGTON

- Lawmakers are streaming back to Capitol Hill after their summer vacation for an abbreviated September session in which feuding Democratic and Republican leaders promise action to prevent a government shutdown while holding votes aimed at defining the parties for the fall campaign.

Republicans control the House and want to pad their 17-vote majority, so they intend to follow this simple rule: first, do no harm.

Last fall, they sparked a partial government shutdown over the implementation of President Obama's health law. Now, Republicans are pressing for drama-free passage of a temporary spending bill to prevent a shutdown at month's end and fund government agencies into mid-December.

The Senate is sure to go along if the measure is kept free of objectionable add-ons.

Study: Bras don't boost cancer risk

LOS ANGELES

- Uplifting news for the girls: Regularly wearing a brassiere does not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, a new study finds.

The new study, published this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, lifts the veil on a speculated link between bras and breast cancer, and separates myth from reality: "Lay media," the study authors write, have suggested that by impairing the free flow of lymphatic fluids, bras impede the removal of waste and toxin removal, that perennial bugaboo of health faddists and medical conspiracy theorists.

- Daily News wire services