• Bahrain criticizes report on ongoing rights violations

    Updated: Fri, Apr 17, 2015

    MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain is criticizing an Amnesty International report alleging that government reforms have failed to end serious violations of human rights in the Gulf country. The government said in a statement released late Thursday that the report had "significant shortcomings" and did not reflect important clarifications provided by authorities. Bahrain also says the report glosses over "highly significant strides" the government has taken to enact institutional and legal reforms over the past four years. The 79-page report documents what the London-based group calls a "chilling crackdown on dissent" that includes the continued jailing of activists, bans on protests in the capital and instances of torture and o

  • Jamaican teen suspected of being militant stays in custody

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A Jamaican judge ruled Thursday that a teenager suspected of hoping to join Islamic extremists in Syria must remain in police custody until next week. Defense lawyer Zara Lewis had filed an application seeking the 16-year-old boy's release from police detention. But the magistrate ordered Thursday that he remain in custody until a Tuesday hearing. Over the weekend, Suriname police said the Jamaican teen was denied entry after arriving at the South American nation's main airport and planning to get on a flight to the Netherlands. Suriname police said an intelligence agency they did not identify had provided information that the boy apparently intended to travel to Turkey and then cross into Syria to

  • UN: Graphic briefing on suspected Syria chlorine attacks

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Security Council members were moved to tears Thursday as the first eyewitness to the latest suspected chlorine attacks on civilians in Syria emerged from the country to give a graphic eyewitness account of dying children. A Syrian doctor who treated victims from a half-dozen attacks over the past month, Mohamed Tennari, was helped out of the country by the United States, which arranged for the closed-door briefing. He showed a video of a suspected chlorine attack March 16 in his town of Sarmin in Idlib province, with images of three children, ages 1 through 3, dying despite attempts to resuscitate them. The medical area was so cramped that one of the children was lying on top of their grandmother,

  • Amid chaos, Al-Qaida consolidates hold of Yemen province

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen consolidated control over much of the country's largest province on Thursday, capturing a major airport, an oil terminal and the area's main military base, and striking an alliance with local tribal leaders to administer the region. The gains highlight how al-Qaida has exploited the chaos in Yemen, where Shiite rebels are battling forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A 3-week-old Saudi-led air campaign in support of Hadi has so far failed to halt the rebels' advance. Military officials and residents said al-Qaida fighters clashed briefly with members of one of Yemen's largest brigades outside Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, which the militants o

  • UN chief set to nominate new special envoy to Yemen

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday is expected to nominate the head of the U.N. Ebola mission as the new special envoy to Yemen, the country's U.N. ambassador said Thursday. Ambassador Khaled Alyemany told The Associated Press that Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, of Mauritania, is the only candidate for the post after Jamal Benomar on Wednesday announced his intention to step down. "The secretary-general has already made his decision," Alyemany said. "Ould Cheikh is a very good U.N. diplomat and expert," with experience leading U.N. humanitarian efforts in Yemen in recent years, he said.

  • Police: Muslims threw Christians overboard during Med voyage

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    ROME (AP) — Italy's migration crisis took on a deadly new twist Thursday as police in Sicily reported that Muslim migrants had thrown 12 Christians overboard during a recent crossing from Libya, and an aid group said another 41 were feared drowned in a separate incident. Palermo police said they had detained 15 people suspected in the high seas assault, which they learned of while interviewing tearful survivors from Nigeria and Ghana who had arrived in Palermo Wednesday morning after being rescued at sea by the ship Ellensborg. The 15 were accused of multiple homicide aggravated by religious hatred, police said in a statement.

  • Putin confident on economy, offers to mend ties with West

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has weathered the worst of its economic troubles and is on the road to recovery, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday during a marathon call-in TV show, offering to normalize ties with the West if it treats Moscow as an equal partner and not a "vassal." He also defended the delivery of a long-range air defense missile system to Iran, casting it as a reward for Tehran's flexibility in nuclear talks and vowing to continue working with global partners to reach a definitive solution to the country's contested nuclear program.

  • Thousands flee as IS group advances on Iraq's Ramadi

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — More than 2,000 families have fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi with little more than the clothes on their backs, officials said Thursday, as the Islamic State group closed in on the capital of western Anbar province, clashing with Iraqi troops and turning it into a ghost town. The extremist group, which has controlled the nearby city of Fallujah for more than a year, captured three villages on Ramadi's eastern outskirts on Wednesday. The advance is widely seen as a counteroffensive after the Islamic State group lost the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, earlier this month. Hundreds of U.S. troops are training Iraqi forces at a military base west of Ramadi, but a U.S. military official said the fighting

  • Polls close in Sudan's presidential, legislative elections

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Polls have closed in Sudan's presidential and legislative elections, with President Omar al-Bashir expected to extend his 25-year rule following an opposition boycott of the vote. Polling centers closed at 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) Thursday and ballot counting will start on Friday. Results are expected on April 27. Nearly 13 million people were registered to vote at some 11,000 polling centers. Polling centers were largely deserted in the capital Khartoum during the vote, which began Monday and was extended for an extra day. Ibrahim Ghandour, a top presidential aide, says the government is "quite satisfied with the turnout of the people.

  • Saudi-Iran rivalry over Yemen deepens Mideast sectarianism

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom's powerful clerics, and its regional rival's theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam. The toxic rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran is playing out on the battlefields of Yemen and Syria, and in the dysfunctional politics of Iraq and Lebanon, with each side resorting to sectarian rhetoric. Iran and its allies refer to all of their opponents as terrorists and extremists, while Saudi Arabian clerics speak of a regional Persian menace.

  • Bible stories and thrillers make Morocco filming choice

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    OUARZAZATE, Morocco (AP) — "QUIET!" The cry rings out in English, French and Arabic across the cobblestoned streets of Jerusalem, as filming begins for a scene in the series "A.D. The Bible Continues." But while the arched doorways, balconies and furnishings all say Roman-era Israel, the real-life setting is southern Morocco. Viewers in America and elsewhere in the world may not know it but they have seen a lot of Morocco in the past year. It has served as the Baghdad of "American Sniper," the Tehran seen in TV series "Homeland," the Mali of "American Odyssey" and the Egypt that will appear in the miniseries "King Tut." Morocco has also been Somalia numerous times, including in the 2001 film "Blackhawk Down," and more recen

  • EU countries press for labelling of Israeli settlement goods

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — More than a dozen European governments have called for the labelling of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Diplomats from 16 countries, including some of Israel's closest allies, signed a letter calling on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to start the process. Signatories include the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Israel's Haaretz daily published the letter on Thursday. A European diplomat confirmed the authenticity of the letter. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal EU affairs. Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory as part of their future state. The international com

  • Thousands of teachers in Iran demand higher wages

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency says thousands of teachers have staged nationwide protests demanding higher wages. The report says peaceful protests were held Thursday in several cities, including the capital, Tehran. It says the teachers gathered in silence in front of provincial Education Ministry buildings. In Tehran, hundreds of teachers gathered in front of parliament. The protesters carried placards in which they asked for higher wages and demanded the release of teachers allegedly detained in similar protests last month. Iran's Education Ministry has promised to increase wages, without providing further details. The Islamic Republic is currently under heavy sanctions over i

  • Saudi Arabia to open stock market to foreigners in June

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's stock market regulator says foreign investors will be allowed to trade shares on the oil-rich kingdom's exchange beginning on June 15. The Capital Market Authority's announcement Thursday has been eagerly awaited by investors seeking to tap into the Arab world's largest economy. The Saudi government last year approved a measure to eventually open the Tadawul exchange to direct foreign investment. Foreign investors outside the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council can currently only buy Saudi stocks indirectly, such as through exchange-traded funds.

  • Iran nuclear talks to resume in Vienna April 22-23

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    BRUSSELS (AP) — Major world powers and Iran will resume talks next week on Tehran's nuclear program, aiming to come up with a comprehensive deal by the end of June. The European Union said in a statement Thursday that senior negotiator Helga Schmid will meet with Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, on April 22 in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Technical experts from the five world nuclear powers plus Germany and Iran will also meet during the two days of talks. The sides reached a framework agreement earlier this month on ensuring that Tehran's nuclear program has no military applications. A deal is supposed to be finalized by June 30 that would curb Iran's program in return for lifting crippling West

  • Lebanese broadcaster on trial at UN tribunal

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) — A Lebanese television network went on trial Thursday at a special U.N. tribunal, accused of obstructing justice by releasing identities of confidential witnesses in the long-running probe into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Al-Jadeed television and its deputy news director, Karma Khayat, pleaded not guilty to charges of contempt of court. Legislators and public figures in Lebanon have expressed solidarity with the network in recent days, and Lebanese journalists are showing support for Al-Jadeed against what they see as an attack on media freedom. Khayat could face up to seven years in prison and 100,000 euros in fines if convicted in the trial that began Thursday near Th

  • The Latest: Putin wants refund if French don't deliver ship

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    MOSCOW (AP) — 2:56 p.m. (1156 GMT; 7:56 EDT President Vladimir Putin says Russia expects France to return the advance payment if it fails to deliver a warship built for the Russian navy. France has suspended the delivery of the Mistral warship amid Russia-West tensions over the Ukrainian crisis. Putin said Thursday during a televised call-in show that Moscow would not demand fines or any other extras. He said France's failure to deliver the warship wouldn't damage the Russian navy capability, adding that Russia had placed the order in a bid to strengthen relations with France. 2:30 p.m. (1130 GMT; 7:30 a.m. EDT) President Vladimir Putin says the West must respect Russia's interests if it wants to normalize diplomatic

  • A look at EU's handling of the Mediterranean migrant influx

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    BRUSSELS (AP) — More than 400 migrants were reported missing and at least 10,000 more have been rescued in the Mediterranean this week, highlighting the scope of the challenge facing the European Union and further exposing weaknesses in its migration policy. Here's a look at the situation: ___ WHY PEOPLE ARE COMING: Some are fleeing conflict or persecution and others are looking for a way out of poverty. They come from countries including Eritrea, Niger, Syria, Iraq and Somalia. Many claim to be Syrian to improve their chances of staying. Right now, the weather is good, so smugglers are bringing over more people willing to spend thousands of euros apiece to risk their lives on poorly maintained, overcrowded boats.

  • Roadside bombing kills officer in Egypt's restive Sinai

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — An Egyptian army official says an armored military vehicle struck a roadside bomb during a raid on militant hideouts in northern Sinai Peninsula and the explosion killed one officer and wounded another. The official says Thursday's bombing took place in the town of Sheik Zweid. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Militant attacks, mainly targeting Egyptian security forces, have spiked since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against his rule. Recently, there has been a surge in attacks against troops and installations in Sinai and elsewhere. On Sunday, at least 14 people, most of them soldiers, were killed in a wave o

  • Church official in Israel says cemetery vandalized

    Updated: Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — A Catholic Church official in Israel says a Christian cemetery has been desecrated, with graves damaged and crosses smashed. Wadie Abunassar said some 20 gravestones at the cemetery in Kufr Birim in northern Israel were found vandalized early Wednesday. He said some were shattered, with pieces of stone strewn about. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that police have opened an investigation. But Abunassar said the church is concerned that no one will be held accountable. A number of Christian sites, including churches and monasteries, have been vandalized in recent years in attacks by suspected Jewish extremists. Critics charge that Israel often fails to apprehend and prosecute the assaila




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