• Reports: Syria troops kill scores of jihadis

    Updated: 5 min ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops killed dozens of jihadi fighters, including a prominent media activist, in heavy clashes on Thursday around a sprawling northern air base that the Islamic State group is trying to seize, activists and state media said. Islamic State fighters began a long-anticipated offensive on Wednesday to seize Tabqa air base in the northern province of Raqqa, the last position held by the Syrian government in a province that is a stronghold of the al-Qaida breakaway group. The assault on the Tabqa air base had been expected for weeks. Islamic State fighters have tightened their siege of the military facility in recent days, capturing a string of nearby villages.

  • Thai army ruler named prime minister

    Updated: 13 min ago

    BANGKOK (AP) — Three months after overthrowing an elected government, Thailand's junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will prolong his rule and bolster the military's grip on power. Thailand's legislature voted overwhelmingly Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job. There was little doubt over the outcome since Prayuth was the only candidate and the assembly — hand-picked by the junta — is dominated by active and retired duty officers. The 60-year-old leader is due to retire from the army next month and until then will hold both positions.

  • Pakistan parliament rejects calls for PM to quit

    Updated: 21 min ago

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's parliament on Thursday rejected calls for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation as unconstitutional despite massive anti-government protests just outside the assembly in the capital Islamabad. The resolution, supported by nearly every opposition party, marked a defeat for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and popular cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who have led weeklong protests from the eastern city of Lahore to the gates of parliament calling for Sharif's ouster over alleged voting fraud. The assembly rejected the protesters' demands for Sharif's resignation and the dissolution of parliament, vowing to "uphold the supremacy of the constitution" and the "sovereignty of the parliament." The

  • Venezuela proposes fingerprinting shoppers

    Updated: 51 min ago

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans soon may need to have their fingerprints scanned before they can buy bread. President Nicolas Maduro has announced a mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages. He said late Wednesday the program will stop people from buying too much of a single item, but did not say when it would take effect. The move was met with skepticism. Critics say the new system is tantamount to rationing, and constitutes a breach of privacy. The socialist South American country has been grappling with shortages of basics like cooking oil and flour for more than a year. The administration blames the shortages on companies speculating and people smuggling subsidized staples out o

  • Study: Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

    Updated: 54 min ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world's most remote and strife-torn regions: Giving a single vaccine shot to children who've already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity. The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas and is being introduced for routine immunizations in developing countries, too. "It could play a major role in completing the job of polio eradication once and for all," said Dr. Hamid Jafari, WHO's director of polio operations, who led the study published Thursday in the journal Science.

  • Hamas admits kidnapping Israeli teens

    Updated: 58 min ago

    JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Hamas leader has said the group carried out the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June — the first time anyone from the Islamic militant group has said it was behind an attack that helped spark the current war in the Gaza Strip. Saleh Arouri told a conference in Turkey on Wednesday that Hamas's military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, carried out what he described as a "heroic operation" with the broader goal of sparking a new Palestinian uprising. "It was an operation by your brothers from the al-Qassam Brigades," he said, saying Hamas hoped to exchange the youths for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

  • Syria opposition: Deadly chemical attack forgotten

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — The year since a chemical attack that killed hundreds near Damascus has been a strikingly good one for President Bashar Assad. His deadly stockpile has been destroyed, but he has stayed in power, bought time and gotten world powers to engage him. Along the way, global disapproval has shifted away from Assad and toward the Islamic extremists who are fighting him and spreading destruction across Syria and Iraq. In Syria, frustrated opposition leaders plan modest rallies Friday to commemorate an attack that they believe the world has largely forgotten. For many Syrians, hopes for justice are fading and a deep sense of bitterness prevails. The U.S.

  • Kvitova moves into semifinals at Connecticut Open

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova moved into the semifinals of the Connecticut Open with a 6-4, 6-1 win Thursday over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. Zahlavova Strycova took an early lead by breaking Kvitova's serve in the third game of the match between two Czech players. But the second seed got stronger as the match progressed. She broke back to tie the set a 4-4 and broke serve again to win it. She cruised in the second set, taking the final five games of the match. Kvitova will face either Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium or Samantha Stosur of Australia in the semifinals. Alison Riske, the only American left in the draw, will face Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in the second afternoon q

  • Romania: Ex-PM imprisoned for corruption released

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A former Romanian prime minister who was imprisoned on corruption charges has been released early from prison. Adrian Nastase, the highest-ranking Romanian official to be sent to prison since 1989, shot himself in the neck in an apparent suicide bid when he was handed a two-year sentence in 2012 for illegally raising funds for a failed presidential bid. He sustained minor injuries only. Nastase was sentenced again in January for illegally receiving goods. A court ruled that the former leader could be released because he is 64 and because of his good conduct in prison.

  • Liberia gives food in slum sealed to stop Ebola

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Government officials handed out bags of rice and sachets of drinking water Thursday to residents of an impoverished slum in Liberia's capital where tens of thousands of people have been barricaded in an effort to stop the spread of Ebola. International aid workers warned that more help was needed as the country battles not only the virulent disease but also hunger as travel restrictions have blocked food from getting to parts of the seaside capital. In the tense township of West Point, hundreds of residents lined up to receive government provisions a day after authorities put up barbed wire barricades and enforced a blockade of the area that kept market traders from entering or leaving.

  • Russian aid convoy advances toward Ukraine

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Fierce fighting raged in eastern Ukraine on Thursday in what appeared to be a last-gasp attempt by government troops to snatch back territory from pro-Russian separatists before the arrival of a Russian aid convoy overseen by the Red Cross. Trucks loaded with water, generators and sleeping bags for desperate civilians in the besieged city of Luhansk began moving through Ukrainian customs after being held up at the border for a week, in part because of safety concerns and Ukrainian fears that the convoy's arrival could halt the military's advance.

  • A look at govt ransom polices in US, Europe

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    A look at how the United States and various European nations have dealt with hostage-taking and ransom demands for their citizens in recent years: UNITED STATES U.S. policy prohibits government negotiation with terrorists, including paying ransom demands. Technically, family members or employers of captives could be prosecuted for paying ransom on charges of providing support to terrorists, although the government is wrestling with whether that should be changed. BELGIUM Belgium is widely thought to negotiate and pay ransoms if needed to free its citizens, even though the government in Brussels routinely denies ransom payments.

  • Saudi court sentences 18 more on terror charges

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced 18 more people on terrorism charges, wrapping up a week of verdicts on nearly every person in an alleged 50-member cell charged with launching attacks aimed at toppling the monarchy around a decade ago. In recent months Saudi authorities have tightened laws to ban fighting in foreign conflicts, fearing a repeat of the 2003-2006 violence, when Saudis and others who had been radicalized in battlefields abroad turned their weapons on the kingdom in a series of deadly attacks. The 18 were found guilty of financing terrorism, collecting information about compounds where foreigners reside, providing hideouts for fugitives and possessing unlicensed weapons, the offi

  • Libya flights canceled amid militia fighting

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    CAIRO (AP) — Tunisia and Egypt on Thursday canceled flights to neighboring Libya citing security concerns, as militias battle in the capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, where a renegade general has launched airstrikes on Islamist militia barracks. Tunisia's Transportation Ministry on Thursday said flights coming from Libya were canceled, citing the need to ensure travelers' safety in accordance with international standards. Egyptian airport officials said flights from Cairo to Libya have been canceled, though service from second city Alexandria would continue. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Libya is witnessing its worst spasm of violence since Moam

  • Hunt for German neo-Nazis was 'complete disaster'

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Police and security services in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia bungled the hunt for three neo-Nazis, who years later turned out to be the main suspects in a far-right murder spree, according to an official report published Thursday. A panel of lawmakers in the state assembly examined thousands of case files and interviewed dozens of former investigators, concluding that efforts to find the fugitive trio between 1998 and 2003 were a "complete disaster." "In the best case the comprehensive failure of many of those involved resulted from simple lack of interest," the panel said in its 1,895-page report. But so many mistakes were made that one might even be justified in suspecting "deliberate sabotage.

  • Turkey's Davutoglu named new premier

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as his successor as prime minister on Thursday, with expectations high that the man who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade will stay in charge once he is president. Erdogan has indicated that he plans to maintain tight control of the government and wants to transform the largely ceremonial presidency. He has said he intends to employ its seldom-used powers, such as summoning and presiding over Cabinet meetings. As Turkey's first popularly-elected president, Erdogan takes office Aug. 28. Erdogan announced after a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party that party leaders had chosen Davutoglu, 55, to replace him as

  • Iraq museum inaugurates 2 halls of statues

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi National Museum inaugurated two renovated halls adorned with life-size stone statues on Thursday, highlighting the rich history of a country once again shattered by war. The newly renovated halls feature more than 500 artifacts that mainly date back to the Hellenistic period (312-139 B.C.), some of which were retrieved and renovated after the looting of the museum following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, said Qais Rashid, who head the state-run Museum Department. The museum chronicles some 7,000 years of Mesopotamian civilization, including the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians, but remains closed to the general public out of security fears.

  • Ohio diocese discourages ALS ice bucket challenge

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    CINCINNATI (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its 113 schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, saying the group's funding of embryonic stem cell research is "in direct conflict with Catholic teaching." Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told the schools in a letter Tuesday to "immediately cease" any plans to raise funds for the association or to instead direct donations to another organization that combats ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease that causes paralysis and almost certain death. The Catholic Church relates the use of embryonic stem cells in research to abortion

  • Irish peacemaker, ex-premier Reynolds dies at 81

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    DUBLIN (AP) — Albert Reynolds, the risk-taking Irish prime minister who played a key role in delivering peace to Northern Ireland but struggled to keep his own governments intact, died Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 81. His eldest son, Philip, said he died around 3 a.m. at his Dublin home, where in recent years he required 24-hour care. Reynolds, a savvy businessman from rural County Roscommon who made millions running rural dance halls and a pet food company, led two feud-prone coalition governments from 1992 to 1994. During his turbulent tenure, Reynolds made peace in neighboring Northern Ireland his top priority.

  • Russia checks more McDonald's after closing 3

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's food safety agency said Thursday that it was checking McDonald's restaurants around the country, a day after several branches of the chain were shuttered in Moscow. The pressure on the American chain, which has 435 restaurants in Russia, comes at a time of heightened tensions over the fighting in eastern Ukraine. After the United States and the European Union slapped sanctions on Russian state banks and major industries last month, Russia responded with a wide-ranging ban on food products imported from those countries. Inspections took place or were planned in dozens of regions, Russian news agencies reported, quoting regional representatives of the federal regulatory agency, Rospotrebnadzor.