• World pledges $10B for Syrians, but peace prospects bleak

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    LONDON (AP) — World leaders pledged more than $10 billion Thursday to help fund schools, shelter and jobs for refugees from Syria's civil war, money that British Prime Minister David Cameron said "will save lives, will give hope, will give people the chance of a future." But participants at the aid conference in London acknowledged that prospects for ending the conflict have rarely been worse: Peace talks are suspended, fighting is intensifying, Russia and the West are at odds, and millions of Syrians are suffering from bombardment, homelessness and hunger. "The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this Earth," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. U.S. Secretary of State Joh

  • UN: At least 200 million females estimated to be circumcised

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — At least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries are estimated to have undergone female circumcision — half of them in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia, the U.N. children's agency said in a report released Thursday night. The UNICEF statistical report said the global figure includes nearly 70 million more girls and women than it estimated in 2014. It said this is due to population growth in some countries and new data from Indonesia. The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution in December 2012 calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility. One of the ta

  • Tortured Italian student died 'slow death': Egypt official

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    CAIRO (AP) — The body of an Italian graduate student who disappeared last month has been found with multiple stab wounds, cigarette burns and other signs of torture and a "slow death" on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo, an Egyptian prosecutor said Thursday. Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Cambridge University PhD candidate who had been researching labor rights in Egypt, went missing on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. His body was found Wednesday. News of the slaying and evidence of torture spurred diplomatic tensions. An Italian government delegation cut short a visit to Cairo and Italy summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Rome, calling for a full investi

  • Anger at Arab Israeli MPs who met relatives of attackers

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Steps should be taken against three Arab members of Israel's parliament who met this week with families of Palestinians who committed deadly attacks against civilians and security personnel, Israel's prime minister said Thursday. Israeli media reports said the families asked for their relatives' bodies to be released to them, and held a moment of silence to honor the "martyrs." "Members of Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what steps can be taken against them.

  • Spain: Jet evacuated in Madrid after hoax threat

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    MADRID (AP) — Passengers on a jet set to leave Madrid for Saudi Arabia were evacuated Thursday after the pilot reported an unspecified threat that authorities later determined was a hoax. The Saudi Arabian Airlines jet taxied to a remote part of Madrid's airport Thursday after the threat was reported and all passengers safely disembarked, a spokeswoman for Spain's airport authority AENA said. She had no further details about the nature of the threat, but said Madrid's airport was briefly placed on a high level safety alert by law enforcement officials. Spain's Civil Guard police force tweeted hours later that the threat was a false alarm.

  • The Latest: 'Like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin'

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    LONDON (AP) — The latest on fighting in Syria and Thursday's Syria aid conference (all times local): 8:30 p.m. The aid group Mercy Corps says intensified airstrikes and fighting around Aleppo have cut off the main humanitarian route into the Syrian city, and that tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing north toward the border with Turkey. David Evans, Mercy Corps' regional program director for the Middle East, said in a statement Thursday that "it feels like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin." The statement said that since Wednesday, the group's operations in northern Syria "have been effectively sliced in half." It cites information from team members on the ground in Syria.

  • Saudi official says kingdom ready to send troops to Syria

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    CAIRO (AP) — A Saudi military spokesman said Thursday the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State group provided coalition leaders agree during an upcoming meeting in Brussels. Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri told The Associated Press that Saudi Arabia has taken part in coalition airstrikes against IS since the U.S.-led campaign began in September 2014, but could now provide ground troops. The United States is scheduled to convene a meeting of defense ministers from countries fighting IS in Brussels this month. "We are determined to fight and defeat Daesh," Asiri said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. He didn't elaborate on how many troops the kingdom would send.

  • Airline CEO: Explosive residue found in Somalia incident

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of the airline whose jetliner was damaged in an explosion shortly after takeoff from Somalia said Thursday that investigators have found what appears to be residue from explosives, though he cautioned that the findings were inconclusive. Still, the preliminary discovery lends weight to the possibility that a bomb was to blame for the blast that tore through the Airbus 321 shortly after takeoff from the Somali capital Mogadishu. "There's a residue, they're saying, of explosives. ... There's a trace," Daallo Airlines CEO Mohammed Ibrahim Yassin said during an interview with The Associated Press at the carrier's corporate office in Dubai.

  • US embassy condemns Czechs for not extraditing suspects

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    PRAGUE (AP) — The U.S. embassy in Prague on Thursday blasted a decision by the Czech Republic's justice minister not to extradite a Lebanese national to the U.S. to face weapons charges. The move came on the same day that five Czech citizens who went missing in Lebanon in July returned home, leading to speculation that the Czech government did a deal for their release. Prague's Municipal Court allowed the extradition of Ali Taan Fayad, also known as Ali Amin, and two citizens of Ivory Coast last year but Justice Minister Robert Pelikan has the final say and on Thursday refused to extradite them. The three were arrested in Prague 2014 while allegedly trying to sell weapons to undercover U.S. law enforcement agents who

  • Analysis: Pause in Syrian talks shows peace remains elusive

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    BEIRUT (AP) — It was hardly unexpected that the Syrian peace talks in Geneva would break off in recrimination. But the speed in which it happened — only two days after the U.N. had declared them officially open — was a stark indication of just how unattainable peace in Syria remains. On Wednesday, few hours after the government said it had broken a siege of two government-held villages in northern Syria and cut off one of the last rebel supply lines to Turkey, the U.N. announced a "temporary pause" in the talks, saying they would resume in three weeks. The opposition blamed the "criminal regime" of President Bashar Assad and its ally Russia. Assad's government blamed the "amateur" opposition and its Saudi and Turk

  • Russia accuses Turkey of preparing to invade Syria

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military said Thursday that it has "reasonable grounds" to suspect that Turkey is making intensive preparations for a military invasion of neighboring Syria. Images of a checkpoint on the border between the Turkish town of Reyhanli and the town of Sarmada in Syrian taken in late October and late January show a buildup of transportation infrastructure that could be used for moving in troops, ammunition and weapons, spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in an English-language written statement. He said these were among growing signs of "hidden preparation of the Turkish armed forces for active actions on the territory of Syria.

  • 'Gay conversion' therapists find safe haven in Israel

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    JERUSALEM (AP) — A leading American Jewish group promoting therapy it said could turn gays to heterosexuals was ordered shut in December by a New Jersey court, amid growing efforts in the U.S. to curb the generally discredited practice. But therapists with ties to the shuttered group say they have found a haven for their work in Israel. Israel's Health Ministry advises against so-called "gay conversion" or "reparative" therapy, calling it scientifically dubious and potentially dangerous, but no law limits it. In Israel, practitioners say their services are in demand, mostly by Orthodox Jewish men trying to reduce their same-sex attractions so they can marry women and raise a traditional family according to their conservative reli

  • A glance at which countries are pledging what for Syrians

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    LONDON (AP) — An international donor conference in London has received pledges totaling of around $10 billion by 2020 to help the millions of Syrians displaced by civil war and neighboring countries struggling with the refugee crisis. Here is a look at what some countries have pledged for 2016 and beyond: ___ GERMANY Germany has pledged 2.3 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in humanitarian aid for Syria through 2018, including 1.2 billion euros this year. ___ BRITAIN The U.K. announced that it will commit 1.2 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) in new aid to be delivered over the next four years. The pledge takes the total British contribution since 2011 to 2.3 billion pounds.

  • Israeli court sentences 2 over Palestinian teenager's murder

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced two Israeli minors for the murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian in 2014, sending one to life in prison for a crime that provoked deep soul-searching in Israel and was one of a series of events that led to the Gaza war later that year. The court sentenced a second Israeli teenager, believed to have had a lesser role in the crime, to 21 years in prison. Another Israeli defendant is awaiting his verdict following a psychological examination. The three Israelis snatched Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir from an east Jerusalem neighborhood in July 2014, driving him to a nearby forest and then burning him to death.

  • Tribal officials: Drone strike kills Yemeni al-Qaida leader

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni al-Qaida leader was killed in a drone strike overnight in the southern province of Abin, Yemeni tribal officials said Thursday. Jalal Baliedy headed al-Qaida in the province and had led several major attacks, including the beheading of soldiers. Three other people were killed in the strike, the officials said. Washington considers al-Qaida's Yemen branch to be the most dangerous offshoot of the network. The group has been blamed for a number of unsuccessful bomb plots aimed at Americans, including an attempt to bring down a U.S.-bound airliner with explosives hidden in the bomber's underwear and a second plot to send bombs hidden in printer cartridges on planes headed to the U.S.

  • Syrian family arrives in Italy in first humanitarian airlift

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    ROME (AP) — A 7-year-old Syrian girl suffering from a rare form of eye cancer arrived in Italy on Thursday, the first of an estimated 1,000 refugees who are being brought here on humanitarian grounds in a pilot project aimed at dissuading people from embarking on deadly sea crossings. Little Falak al Hourani, her parents and 6-year-old brother Hussein landed on a commercial flight at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport thanks to the "humanitarian corridor" project launched by the Rome-based Catholic Sant'Egidio Community and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. The two groups lobbied the Italian government to grant 1,000 humanitarian visas for particularly vulnerable refugees in camps in Lebanon, Morocco and Ethiopi

  • Five Czechs going home after missing in Lebanon for 7 months

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese airport official says five Czechs who went missing in eastern Lebanon in July have boarded a flight back to their homeland. The official says they left from Beirut's international airport on Thursday, on a special plane sent from the Czech Republic. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with briefing regulations. The Czechs previously said the five might have been kidnapped. They included a lawyer, interpreter, two journalists and a man said to work for a military spy agency. Their car was found July 18 near a Lebanese army checkpoint in the town of Kefraya. The Czech Foreign Ministry has said the five were discovered in Lebanon on Monday evening and that they were in "sat

  • Gulf investors to buy majority stake in Kuwait's Americana

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A consortium of Gulf Arab investors has agreed to buy a majority stake in Middle Eastern food firm Kuwait Food Company, which operates regional franchises of KFC, Krispy Kreme and other well-known Western brands. The investor group Adeptio said in a statement posted Thursday on the Kuwait stock exchange that it has agreed to buy a stake in the company currently owned by the Al-Khair investment company. Al-Khair says Adeptio is led by Mohamed Alabbar, who is also chairman of Emaar Properties, developer of Dubai's record-breaking Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Financial details were not disclosed. Kuwait Food Company is better known as Americana.

  • Turkish parties hold first meeting to draft new constitution

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish parliamentary commission is meeting in a fresh push to draft a new constitution that would replace the current charter which is a legacy of the 1980 military coup. The Constitutional Consensus Commission, comprised of legislators from all four parties in parliament, held its first meeting on Thursday. While all parties agree on the need to overhaul the constitution, the opposition strongly opposes the ruling party's plans to turn Turkey's political system into a presidential one, giving the president executive powers. Currently, the president's role is largely ceremonial. The opposition fears that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has grown increasingly authoritarian, is aiming to con

  • Authorities detain Iranian translator, former BBC reporter

    Updated: Thu, Feb 4, 2016

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian opposition website is reporting authorities have detained a former BBC Persian service reporter. A late Wednesday report by Kaleme.com says judiciary officers detained Bahman Daroshafaei on Wednesday morning in his residence did not elaborate on the reason. Daroshafaei, who left the BBC Persian service in London about two years ago, was working as translator of political books and novels. The detention took place as Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in London on Thursday to participate in a meeting on Syria. Calls to judiciary officials were not immediately returned on Thursday, part of the weekend in Iran.




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