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  • Social media pushes back at militant propaganda

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — The extremists of the Islamic State group have turned their social media into a theater of horror, broadcasting a stomach-turning stream of battles, bombings and beheadings to a global audience. The strategy is aimed at terrorizing opponents at home and winning recruits abroad. But there are increasing signs of pushback — both from companies swiftly censoring objectionable content and users determined not to let it go viral. Public disgust with the group's callous propaganda tactics was evident following the group's posting of the beheading video of American journalist James Foley — chilling footage that spread rapidly when it appeared online late Tuesday.

  • Ukrainian govt troops take over much of Luhansk

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — After days of street battles and weeks of shelling, Ukrainian troops made a significant push Wednesday into rebel-held territory, claiming control over a large part of the separatist stronghold of Luhansk and nearly encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city. The advance of the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian separatists comes as the civilian death toll is mounting from sustained artillery strikes and rebel cities are slipping into a humanitarian disaster. At least 52 deaths were reported Wednesday, along with 64 wounded — and due to the dangers of the war zone in eastern Ukraine, no deaths were reported from Luhansk, meaning the actual toll could be even higher.

  • Airstrike kills wife and child of Hamas figure

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas' shadowy military chief escaped an apparent Israeli assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son, the militant group said Wednesday as Israel's prime minister warned that the bombardment of Gaza will continue until rocket fire out of the Palestinian territory stops. The airstrike on a home where Mohammed Deif's family members were staying — and the tough talk from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — came after the collapse of cease-fire talks in Cairo on Tuesday. In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu showed little willingness to return to the negotiating table after six weeks of war with Hamas.

  • WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed 1,350 people and counting across West Africa. Hundreds of the slum's residents clashed with the gunmen, furious at being blamed and isolated by a government that has failed to quickly collect dead bodies from the streets of Liberia's capital. One 15-year-old boy was injured trying to cross the barbed wire as security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd. The World Health Organization said the death toll is rising most quickly in Liberia, which now accounts for at least 576 of the fat

  • French protesters urge end to Israeli airstrikes

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    PARIS (AP) — Leftist and pro-Palestinian activists have rallied in Paris to urge Israel to end its airstrikes in Gaza, after talks toward a lasting truce collapsed. About 300 protesters gathered Wednesday near Napoleon's tomb in central Paris, waving Palestinian flags, photos of people killed in airstrikes. Some banners read "No to the massacre in Gaza." Police watched carefully and the protest wound down peacefully, unlike several demonstrations last month in France that unleashed the worst tensions between France's Muslim and Jewish communities in years. France has more Muslim and Jewish citizens than any other country in western Europe. France's government has urged a truce.

  • Dubai's Nakheel to pay $2.1 billion in debt early

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai's developer Nakheel behind the famed man-made palm-shaped islands said Wednesday it is repaying 7.9 billion dirhams, or roughly $2.15 billion this month — nearly four years before the last installment is due. The indebted state developer was scheduled to repay the credit over three installments between September 2015 and March 2018. Nakheel said in a statement that it made early repayments of 2.35 billion dirhams ($640 million) in February. The remaining 5.54 billion dirhams ($1.51 billion) is being paid and cleared this month, it said. Nakheel will pay the $1.51 billion to 31 banks, of which almost $940 million will go to UAE banks and $570 million to overseas banks.

  • Iran's parliament dismisses moderate minister

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — In a move led by hard-line lawmakers, Iran's parliament dismissed the country's science minister Wednesday over his alleged support for pro-Western voices at universities, dealing a blow to moderate President Hassan Rouhani. The no-confidence vote against Science, Research and Technology Minister Reza Faraji Dana was a sharp rebuke of Rouhani, who was elected last year on promises of greater openness and diplomatic engagement with the West. The vote was also the first time a minister in Rouhani's Cabinet was impeached. Out of 270 lawmakers who were present at the session, 145 voted to oust Dana, 110 voted to keep him on and 15 abstained. The chamber has 290 seats.

  • Pakistan army chief wants negotiated end to rally

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's powerful army chief called Wednesday for the country's civilian government to negotiate with thousands of protesters surrounding parliament who demand the prime minister step down over alleged fraud in last year's election. Gen. Rasheel Sharif made the request during a meeting with Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani officials said. The premier earlier ended up sneaking into parliament through a back exit after the protesters torn down barricades late Tuesday and entered the so-called "Red Zone" housing key government buildings and diplomatic posts.

  • Israel's prime minister: 'We will not stop' Gaza operation until quiet is restored

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister: 'We will not stop' Gaza operation until quiet is restored.

  • Militants use British killer as propaganda

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    LONDON (AP) — Islamic militants are using a beheading video to send a chilling message — not just through the gruesome act, but also by the choice of messenger. The black-clad fighter who appears to kill journalist James Foley speaks with an English accent, underscoring the insurgents' increasing use of Western militants to mobilize recruits, terrify opponents and project the image of a global force. He is the latest in a string of international jihadis — Britons, Australians, Chechens, Chinese and Indonesians — to appear in propaganda for the Islamic State group. "They like to suggest they have a presence around the world much stronger than it is," said Charlie Cooper, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a

  • Militants attack major air base in eastern Syria

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic extremists fired rockets and tank shells Wednesday at a major air base in northeastern Syria, kicking off a long-anticipated offensive to seize the last position held by the Syrian government in a province that is a stronghold of the Islamic State group, activists said. The attack on the Tabqa air base had been expected for weeks. Islamic State fighters have tightened their siege of the sprawling facility in recent days, capturing a string of nearby villages. The group in recent months has virtually eliminated the presence of President Bashar Assad's military in Raqqa province, with the exception of Tabqa.

  • Egypt says rolling blackouts to end in 4 months

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian officials promised Wednesday to end rolling power blackouts that have plagued the country within four months, blaming the outages on a fuel shortage, hot weather and poor maintenance of power plants. Neighborhoods in Egypt sink into darkness for hours during the day, leaving millions without power. The crisis has caused water cuts, affected hospitals and cut communications as many had difficulty recharging their mobile phones. Parts of the capital lose power numerous times a day, plunging entire neighborhoods into darkness for an hour or more each time.

  • Iraqis in besieged town appeal to army for help

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Members of a minority Iraqi Shiite community whose town has been besieged by Sunni militants appealed to Iraq's military and the international community to intervene to end the siege, a lawmaker said Wednesday as the U.N. started a massive aid push to help Iraqis uprooted by the extremists. Also Wednesday, scattered attacks killed at least 11 people in and near Baghdad. The city has not been spared the almost daily violence even as the country grapples with the onslaught by the Islamic State group and their militant Sunni allies. The siege of the northern town of Amrili, populated by Shiite Turkmens, is part of the Islamic State's offensive, which seized large swaths of western and northern Iraq this summer a

  • AP Analysis: Steep obstacles to any Gaza deal

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Renewed Israel-Hamas fighting after the collapse of truce talks in Cairo highlights the steep obstacles to ending the Gaza war. Israel's leadership is under domestic pressure not to hand achievements to Hamas after the Islamic militant group fired thousands of rockets at Israel in the past six weeks. Hamas feels it can't afford to settle for vague Israeli promises about an easing of the blockade of the strip after a war that killed more than 2,000 Gazans and left 100,000 homeless. With chances for diplomacy fading, there's a risk of protracted fighting. Here's a look at what each side wants. WHAT WAS ON THE TABLE IN CAIRO? Egypt had proposed a limited interim deal.

  • Germany, Italy, ready to send arms to Iraq Kurds

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany is prepared to arm Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq, officials said Wednesday. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier cited the "barbaric" actions of the Islamic State group that has taken control of large parts of Iraq in recent weeks, and the threat that their further advance could pose to the region and Europe. "We are prepared, in principle, to provide weapons and ammunition within our means," Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said at a joint news conference with Steinmeier in Berlin. The two ministers said Germany would closely coordinate its efforts with France, Britain, Italy and other European countries that have expressed willingness to deliver weapons to

  • Protesters plant Ukraine flag on Moscow skyscraper

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    MOSCOW (AP) — Protesters on Wednesday scaled one of Moscow's famed Stalin-era skyscrapers and painted the Soviet star on its spire in the national colors of Ukraine. The dangerous prank, which set Russian social networking sites abuzz, drew a harsh response from the police. The protesters also attached a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag to the top of the 176-meter (580-foot) building east of the Kremlin along the Moscow River. Russian authorities were not amused by the expression of support for Ukraine, where government troops are battling pro-Russian separatists. Police said they detained four suspects and charged them with vandalism, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

  • Chinese, Russian media turn criticisms back on US

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and Russian state media have seized on the U.S. police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old and ensuing protests to fire back at Washington's criticisms of their own governments, portraying the United States as a land of inequality and brutal police tactics. The violence in the St. Louis, Missouri, suburb of Ferguson comes amid tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine, as well as friction between Washington and Beijing over what China sees as a campaign to thwart its rise as a global power.

  • Ukraine's rebel capital seeks ersatz normality

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — It has been weeks since Donetsk last had a traffic jam. The regular rumble on the edge of this besieged city in eastern Ukraine is a constant reminder of the government's effort to shell armed pro-Russian separatists out of their stronghold. Rebels give as good as they get, blindly lobbing shells back at an unseen foe. As fighting edges ever closer to the center, hundreds of thousands have fled a city once home to 1 million people. The bustle of a major industrial center has given way to the stillness of fear. College teacher Nataliya Badibina said she would have left to stay with relatives in Russia were it not for her mother and father. "My parents are ill.

  • Israeli-US relations tested once again in Gaza war

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — When Israel completes its damage assessment from its latest war with Hamas, it may conclude that one of the biggest casualties was its all-important relationship with the United States. A recent American decision to hold back on the delivery of advanced Hellfire missiles offered dramatic manifestation of a relationship that appears to be deteriorating in large part due to strained ties between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Since both came into power in early 2009, they have been unable to see eye-to-eye on a host of issues — most notably on how to handle Iran's nuclear program and on peace talks with the Palestinians. There also seems to be little personal chemistry.

  • Gaza cease-fire efforts collapse in heavy fighting

    Updated: Tue, Aug 19, 2014

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Egyptian attempts to broker an end to a monthlong war between Israel and Hamas collapsed in heavy fighting Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets and Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. At least three Palestinians were killed. The burst of violence, which erupted in the hours before a temporary truce was set to expire, left the Egyptian mediation efforts in tatters and raised the likelihood of a new round of fighting in a war that has already claimed more than 2,000 lives, most of them Palestinians. The fighting broke out when Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel Tuesday afternoon.