• Buffer zone agreed on in Ukrainian peace talks

    Updated: 3 min ago

    MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Negotiators in Ukrainian peace talks agreed early Saturday to create a buffer zone between government troops and pro-Russian militants by halting their advances, pulling back heavy weapons and withdrawing foreign fighters in order to ensure a stable truce in eastern Ukraine. The deal reached by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Moscow-backed rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe marks an effort to add substance to a cease-fire agreement that was signed on Sept. 5 but has been frequently broken by clashes. The memorandum signed after hours of talks that dragged late into the night says that the conflicting parties should stay strictly where they were Friday and make no

  • Afghan presidential vote result to come Sunday

    Updated: 25 min ago

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's drawn-out presidential election may finally be coming to an end. Nearly six months after Afghans cast ballots in a first-round vote, the country's election commission on Saturday said it would announce final, audited results on Sunday from a two-man runoff held in June. U.N. and Afghan election officials spent weeks auditing the runoff results after allegations of vote fraud, a common occurrence over Afghanistan's last two presidential elections. The announcement that vote results are coming would appear to override one of the negotiating stances of candidate Abdullah Abdullah: that vote results are not released because, he contends, undetectable fraud invalidates the results.

  • Scottish teens proud, passionate about voting

    Updated: 52 min ago

    EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — They arrived before polling stations even opened, dressed for the school day in striped ties and blazers, dress slacks and tartan skirts, book bags over their shoulders — and for the first time in British history, ballot cards in hand. Scotland's experiment of allowing more than 100,000 teens aged 16 to 17 to take part in this week's independence referendum has demonstrated how the youngest voters can be some of the most enthusiastic in a mature democracy. More than 90 percent of the previously disenfranchised teens registered to vote — and, to the surprise of many analysts, proved not so ready to rebel against their parents as might be expected.

  • Jailed Venezuelan police chief freed

    Updated: 56 min ago

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A former Caracas police chief whose decade-long imprisonment had rallied Venezuela's opposition has been released from jail to serve the remainder of his sentence at home. Ivan Simonovis had been jailed since 2004 in connection with the death of pro-government protesters who had rushed to the defense of then-President Hugo Chavez during a failed coup attempt two years earlier. In 2009, he was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Before dawn Saturday, his wife posted a message on Twitter saying that Simonovis was at home and will serve the rest of his sentence with police posted outside. The judge authorizing his release banned her husband from making statements to the

  • Turkey: 49 hostages have been freed

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Dozens of Turkish hostages seized by the Islamic State group in Iraq were freed Saturday, resolving a serious crisis which Turkish officials had long cited as a reason to avoid moving aggressively against the violent militant group. The 49 hostages were captured from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, Iraq on June 11, when the Islamic State group overran the city in its surge to seize large swaths of Iraq and Syria. But the circumstances of their release — which drew flag waving crowds to the Turkish capital's airport — were clouded in mystery. Turkish leaders gave only limited details of the release and the hostages declined to answer all but the most general questions from journalists when they arri

  • Kurds head to Syria from Turkey to fight militants

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — Hundreds of Kurdish fighters have crossed from Turkey into neighboring Syria to defend a Kurdish area under attack by Islamic State militants, activists said Saturday. Fighting there led another prominent Kurdish official to appeal for international assistance in their battle against the extremists. The movement of hundreds of Kurdish fighters into Syria reflected the ferocity of the fighting in the northern Kobani area, which borders Turkey. Militants of the extremist Islamic State group have been barreling through the area over the past three days, seizing villages and forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee.

  • Moose populations down as winter ticks cull herd

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Sportsmen hoping to bag a big moose are seeing increased competition from a tiny parasite that's cutting down moose populations in New England and across parts of the northern United States, prompting some states to offer hunters fewer permits or halt hunting altogether. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are all issuing fewer moose hunting permits this year, citing the impact of winter ticks on their moose populations. In Minnesota, where ticks are among several factors that have cut the population by more than half in less than a decade, there will be no moose hunting season at all. Thousands of ticks are sometimes found on a single moose, and the parasites can bleed the animals and cause anemia and d

  • Quakes destroy or damage 83 houses in Philippines

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A series of earthquakes destroyed 17 houses and damaged 66 others Saturday in a southern Philippine town, slightly injuring three people, officials said. A magnitude-5 quake, the strongest of the tremors that shook the area, caused most of the damage in one mountain village, said Eduardo Buenacosa, disaster officer of Makilala municipality in North Cotabato province. Local officials were preventing residents of houses that were destroyed from returning home because of the danger of a collapse, he said. He said three people were treated for bruises after they were hit by concrete fragments from collapsed walls.

  • Pope creates panel to 'safeguard' marriage bond

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has created a commission to study how to safeguard what the church calls the everlasting bonds of marriage while streamlining annulment procedures. Vatican teaching, while forbidding divorce, allows Catholics to have marriages annulled if church tribunals rule that the unions for specific reasons weren't valid in the first place and thus are void. Francis decided last month to establish a special commission to draft proposals on reforming church marriage law, but the Vatican only announced it on Saturday. The timing appears linked to a major Vatican gathering of bishops next month on family issues and appeals to allow divorced Catholics who remarry to receive Communion.

  • Pope Albania visit showcases Muslim-Christian ties

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    DERVEN, Albania (AP) — The one-room, stone church of St. Nicholas has sat on the top of a hill here since the 16th century, destroyed three times and rebuilt in a testament to the Catholic presence in this region that dates to St. Paul. Its latest incarnation, however, is particularly poignant: 15 Muslim families chipped in to help rebuild it in a sign of the remarkable coexistence that exists in Albania between Christians and Muslims. Pope Francis will highlight this interfaith harmony when he makes a one-day trip to the Balkan nation on Sunday, holding it up as a model for the Middle East and other parts of the world where Christians are being targeted by Islamic militants.

  • Dalai Lama praises China's leader as 'realistic'

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    NEW DELHI (AP) — The Dalai Lama praised Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday for being "more realistic" and principled than his predecessors, a day after Xi's three-day visit to India ended. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has lived in exile for decades in India's Himalayan foothill city of Dharamsala, after fleeing China following a failed 1959 uprising. The arrangement has irritated Beijing, which has long accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting unrest and encouraging Buddhist monks to self-immolate in demanding more autonomy for Tibet, a Himalayan region in western China. However, Beijing's attitude appears to be shifting, the Dalai Lama said, noting that China's Communist leaders, who officially are atheist, are n

  • Munich expects 6 million visitors at Oktoberfest

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    MUNICH (AP) — Four taps on the keg and the beer started to flow. Munich mayor Dieter Reiter opened the city's annual Oktoberfest with the traditional call of "Ozapft is" to the delight of thousands who had managed to get a place in the main beer tent Saturday. Some 6 million people are expected to visit what is billed as the world's biggest beer party that runs through Oct. 5.

  • 'Nearly empty' Picasso museum open in Paris

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Paris' Picasso museum is reopening for two days this weekend after five years of closure over a renovation fraught with setbacks, accusations and sackings. But if the public expects art they'll be disappointed: it's practically empty. "I will first of all calm your ardor and your enthusiasm ... but you're going to see nothing. It's a great disappointment. It's an empty museum," Laurent Le Bon, the museum's president, said during Friday's preview reception. He has been in the job for just three months. His predecessor was sacked. The 37 rooms of Musee Picasso, located inside the Marais district's grand 17th-century Hotel de Sale, are being temporarily opened in honor of France's annual heritage weekend.

  • Brown credited with turning Scot independence tide

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    KIRKCALDY, Scotland (AP) — Dour. Grim. Downright uninspiring. When Gordon Brown ended a disappointing three years as British prime minister in 2010, few would have credited him as the man most likely to swing a popular vote ever again. Yet, the former Labour Party leader and 63-year-old Scot has emerged as the oratorical star of Scotland's Better Together campaign, the man most responsible for persuading wavering voters to stick with Great Britain by emphasizing why they should be proud to be British. The issue at stake - the defense of his homeland within the United Kingdom - brought back the passion that his years of government struggle in London had seemed to sap.

  • Renewed Yemen clashes kill 4 civilians

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A third day of fighting in Yemen's capital between Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen killed at least four civilians on Saturday, security and health officials said. Mortar shells slammed into homes and a local hospital as the Shiite rebels, known as Hawthis, battled militias and army units allied with the Muslim Brotherhood's Islah party raising the total civilian death toll from the fighting to 22. The officials said three others were wounded in the shelling of the hospital. Witnesses said many families fled their homes while others were trapped by the fighting.

  • Alonso fastest in final Singapore GP practice

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    SINGAPORE (AP) — Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in Saturday's final practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo second. The pace of the Ferraris and Red Bulls suggested they could challenge the Mercedes drivers — who have taken all but one pole position this season — in qualifying at Marina Bay later in the evening. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was third fastest and his teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton was sixth, separated by Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who has won the past three races in Singapore. There was improvement from the Williams drivers, who were well off the pace on Friday. Felipe Massa was seventh, ahead

  • Kiribati leader visits Arctic on climate mission

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — The president of Kiribati who fears that his Pacific island nation could be swallowed by a rising ocean, says a visit to the melting Arctic has helped him appreciate the scale of the threat. President Anote Tong on Saturday ended a Greenpeace-organized tour of glaciers in Norway's Svalbard Archipelago, a trip he said left a deep impression that he would share with world leaders at a U.N. climate summit next week in New York. Scientists say the melt of Arctic glaciers is a key factor in the sea level rise that is threatening island nations such as Kiribati, an impoverished string of 33 coral atolls located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Many of its atolls rise just a few feet above sea level.

  • USC celebrates 200th birthday of preservationist

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The A. C. Moore Herbarium in Columbia is holding an all-day symposium to honor of the 200th birthday of South Carolina preservationist Henry William Ravenel. University of South Carolina spokesman Jeff Stensland says the event is being held Saturday in the Currell College auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ravenel is known around the world as a 19th century botanist who preserved thousands of plant specimens during his lifetime. Much of the collection was purchased by the university. Portions of his collection are on view at the university's McKissick Museum. South Carolina naturalist Rudy Mancke opens the event at 9 a.m. with remarks on the importance of preserving natural history.

  • Jihadi ideologue calls for freeing British hostage

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    CAIRO (AP) — A renowned jihadi ideologue has urged the Islamic State group to release British aid worker Alan Henning, saying Islam forbids harming non-Muslims who work with relief agencies. Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, who was released by Jordan in June after serving a five-year sentence on terror charges, said in a statement posted on his website and by a militant forum Saturday that non-Muslims who help weak and poor Muslims should be respected and protected. Al-Maqdisi, also known as Essam al-Barqawi, was the mentor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006. The Islamic State group, which has beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, has threa

  • Philippine storm moves north, leaves 5 dead

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A storm that brought torrential monsoon rains which flooded much of the Philippine capital gained strength and battered the country's northernmost provinces Saturday with heavy downpours and strong winds. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that more than 700,000 people were affected by Tropical Storm Fung-Wong in metropolitan Manila and in northern and central Philippine provinces, forcing more than 205,000 to evacuate. At least five people died. Gov. Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte on the northwest section of the main island of Luzon said fierce winds and heavy rains battered her province for more than 12 hours, blowing away roofs, toppling trees and flooding highway