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  • Nigeria: Church obstructed rescue, lives lost

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Church officials prevented rescuers from freeing victims at the site of a six-story building collapse, leading to a loss of lives, Nigeria's emergency agency said Friday. Most victims were South African, according to the South African government, which said at least 67 South Africans died and 17 appear to be missing in the rubble of the Lagos building that had a shopping mall on the ground floor and guest rooms above. The building at televangelist T.B. Joshua's Synagogue, Church of All Nations, collapsed at 12:44 p.m. on Friday but rescuers did not get full access until after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency told The Associated Press. He sa

  • Dempsey lauds French airstrike against militants

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    CAEN, France (AP) — The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says the U.S. appreciates France's airstrike against Islamic State militants. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was in France on Friday, said the French hit a target north of the Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraq. Dempsey was not more specific. Dempsey said the strike happened while he was visiting the D-Day landing beaches and American military cemetery at Normandy with his French counterpart, Gen. Pierre de Villiers, who informed him of the attack. Dempsey told reporters traveling with him that "the French were our very first ally and they're with us again now." France said it conducted its first airstrike against the Islamic State group destroyed a logistics d

  • OPCW document: Syria had ricin program

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Syrian authorities have declared that they once had a program to produce the deadly toxin ricin, according to an official document of the global chemical weapons watchdog. A report on the website of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that Damascus revealed in July "a facility for the production of ricin" along with two other "chemical weapons-related facilities." Nobody at the OPCW was immediately available for comment Friday.

  • Philippine peacekeepers pull out early from Golan

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — More than 240 Filipino peacekeepers arrived in Manila on Friday after pulling out two weeks early from a U.N. mission in the Golan Heights because of escalating fighting in the border region, the Philippine military said Friday. The 244 Filipino troops were welcomed by military chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang and other generals after arriving on a U.N.-chartered plane. A smaller group of 85 soldiers is to fly home Sunday from the Golan, ending a five-year Philippine peacekeeping role that has been marred by Syrian rebel kidnappings and attacks, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said. Among the Filipino peacekeepers were dozens who recently battled al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels. Th

  • American performers get standing ovation in Iran

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Hundreds of Iranian art lovers gave a troupe of Chicago-based puppeteers flowers and a lengthy standing ovation at the Tehran City Theater at the end of their historic performance this week during a rare visit by American performers to the Islamic Republic. The artists from the Manual Cinema group presented Ada/Ava, a live cinematic shadow puppet show at the Tehran Mobarak Puppet Festival, in the first such performance by an American troupe at the Tehran event in nearly 17 years. "You are the best audience we have ever had and met. We have been so impressed by all the artists and puppeteers here," Drew Dir, the co-director of the 10-member group, told the audience after the performance.

  • Bomb kills 2 Lebanese soldiers near Syria border

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Attackers detonated a roadside bomb against a passing army truck near the Syrian border Friday, killing two soldiers and wounding three in the latest spillover from the civil war next door. The violence appeared to be the latest in tensions between Lebanese troops and Syrian Islamic extremist rebels crossing the border in a spillover of Syria's civil war. The bomb exploded Friday near the army patrol outside the border town of Arsal, an area of repeated clashes, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Prime Minister Tammam Salam blamed jihadi extremists for the bombing in a statement by his office. Officials said earlier that that attack was a rocket but later said

  • Morocco expands laws against jihad seekers

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    RABAT, Morocco (AP) — With hundreds of Moroccans heading to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremists groups, Morocco has presented a new law criminalizing training with extremists or attempting to reach their camps. The new law, which will go before parliament in October, comes as Morocco is expressing increasing concern about the number of its citizens fighting with groups like the Islamic State, which controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Those convicted of seeking out training camps will face five to 15 years in prison and fines of between $5,800 and $58,000, according to the draft law, which was announced by the government late Thursday.

  • French president: First French airstrike destroys depot of Islamic State group in Iraq

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    PARIS (AP) — French president: First French airstrike destroys depot of Islamic State group in Iraq.

  • Islamic State plot in Australia raises questions

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Islamic State plot to carry out random beheadings in Sydney alleged by police is a simple and barbaric scheme that has shaken Australians. But terrorism experts on Friday questioned whether the ruthless movement had the capacity or inclination to sustain a terror campaign so far from the Middle East. Police said they thwarted such a plot by detaining suspects and raiding more than a dozen properties across Sydney on Thursday. The Islamic State militant group has beheaded three Westerners in the Middle East in recent weeks and recorded the brutal slayings to make propaganda videos widely condemned. Two of the 15 people whom police had detained Thursday have been charged.

  • Militants threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia — from Assyrians and Akkadians to Babylonians and Romans. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces and temples packed with monumental art are scattered across what is now northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Now much of that archaeological wealth is under the control of extremists from the Islamic State group. The militants have demolished some artifacts in their zealotry to uproot what they see as heresy, but they are also profiting from it, hacking relics off palace walls or digging them out to sell on the international black market. Antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria warn of a disaster as the region's history is era

  • AP Photos: Scenes from Iraq's Mosul then and now

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, is locked under the rule of extremists from the Islamic State group trying to purge it of everything they see as contradicting their stark vision of Islam. A trove of photographs now housed at the Library of Congress offers a glimpse of a different Mosul — before wars, insurgency, sectarian strife and now radicals' rule. The scenes were taken in the autumn of 1932 by staff from the American Colony Photo Department during a visit to Iraq at the end of the British mandate. The photos show many of the sites that have now borne the brunt of the Islamic State group's wrath. Since capturing the city in June, the militants destroyed at least 30 shrines and historic sites they see a

  • Alibaba mega IPO caps founder Jack Ma success tale

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    HONG KONG (AP) — When Jack Ma founded Alibaba 15 years ago he insisted the e-commerce venture should see itself as competing against Silicon Valley, not other Chinese companies. That bold ambition from a time when China was still a corporate backwater has been vindicated this week by Alibaba completing a mammoth sale of shares to investors in the U.S. and elsewhere. Charismatic by the gray standards of Chinese CEOs, the elfin Ma is nicknamed "Crazy Jack" and is seen as China's version of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. Ma used his entrepreneurial wits to build up an e-commerce giant in stark contrast to the state owned companies that became behemoths because of Communist Party policies and ties to the political elite.

  • North Korea struts in style on world sports stage

    Updated: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is making a statement on the international sports stage — a fashion statement. Standing tall in the land of K-pop and Gangnam style, the North's top athletes have been looking decidedly sharper than usual at the Asian Games, an Olympic-style regional games hosted by rival South Korea, with pink candy-striped ties, azure slacks and, of course, the accessory that pulls every good North Korean ensemble together, those bright red Kim lapel pins. All of it, apparently, with a made-in-the-DPRK label. It's not just the athletes, either. Dressed in the same national uniforms as their athletes and coaches, North Korea's media contingent is hands down the best-dressed group of rep

  • High turnout seen in Scotland's independence vote

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — From the capital of Edinburgh to the far-flung Shetland Islands, Scots embraced a historic moment — and the rest of the United Kingdom held its breath — after voters turned out in unprecedented numbers for an independence referendum that could end Scotland's 307-year union with England. Results early Friday brought cheer to the anti-independence "Better Together" camp. With 17 of 32 regional electoral centers reporting, the No side had 56.2 percent of the vote to 43.8 percent for the Yes side. The No side also scored a big win by strongly taking Aberdeen, the home city of independence leader Alex Salmond, by 59 percent to 41 percent. But results from the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow we

  • Mexico boosts Los Cabos security after looting

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — Federal police on Thursday vowed to restore order in the hurricane-stricken resort area of Los Cabos after looting emptied store shelves and unnerved residents who worried their homes could be next. Enrique Galindo, national commissioner of the Federal Police, said seven people, two of them carrying firearms, had been detained on suspicion of attempted looting. He said police would aggressively enforce the law. There were reports of gunfire during Wednesday night, and residents in Los Cabos lit large bonfires to try to protect their neighborhoods as they faced a fourth day without power or running water following the blow from Hurricane Odile.

  • Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — In a desperate bid to slow West Africa's accelerating Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone ordered its 6 million people confined to their homes for three days starting Friday while volunteers conduct a house-to-house search for victims in hiding. At an emergency meeting, meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council unanimously called the crisis "a threat to international peace and security" and urged all countries to provide experts, field hospitals and medical supplies. It was only the second time the council addressed a health emergency, the first being the AIDS epidemic.

  • UN warns of food shortages for Syrians

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations on Thursday said that it is running out of money to pay for its food programs for almost 6 million Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war and that aid will be cut. The U.N. World Food Program says that the size of next month's food rations for 4 million internally-displaced Syrians will be reduced and the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries who receive food or vouchers will be cut from 2 million. WFP needs $1 billion for its emergency programs for this year for refugees but has received only $410 million, or 39 percent, said Bettina Luescher, chief spokeswoman for WFP. Operations for Syrians displaced within the country need $915 million but have re

  • Militant gains illustrate plight of Syrian Kurds

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militiamen backed by tanks defiantly advanced Thursday in Syria, capturing more than 20 Kurdish villages as the international community strains to assemble a coalition that might destroy them. The gains highlighted the plight of Syria's Kurds, who have been some of the most successful against the Islamic extremists. But unlike U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurds, they seem largely on their own in a devastated country where the enemy's enemy is not necessarily a friend. The main Kurdish force in Syria, known as the People's Protection Units or YPK, is viewed with suspicion by mainstream Syrian rebels and their Western supporters because of perceived links to President Bashar Assad's government.

  • US: Syrian rebel training may take 12 months

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    PARIS (AP) — Moderate Syrian rebels, once they are made battle-ready by a U.S.-led coalition, may be asked to help restore the border between Syria and Iraq that Islamic State group militants have effectively wiped out, the top American military official said Thursday. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey cautioned, however, that it may be a year before the Syrian rebel force that President Barack Obama calls a key element of his strategy for destroying the Islamic State group is ready for action. "We think if we can restore the border, it goes a long way to beginning to put the kind of pressure on ISIL that will lead to its ultimate defeat," Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, using a common acronym for the group tha

  • Cardinals debate marriage before crucial meeting

    Updated: Thu, Sep 18, 2014

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — The battle lines are being drawn before a major church meeting on family issues that represents a key test for Pope Francis. Five high-ranking cardinals have taken one of Francis' favorite theologians to task over an issue dear to the pope's heart: Whether Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment can receive Communion. They have written a book, "Remaining in the Truth of Christ," to rebut German Cardinal Walter Kasper, whom Francis praised in his first Sunday blessing after he was elected pope as "a great theologian" and subsequently entrusted with a keynote speech to set the agenda for the two-year study on marriage, divorce and family life that opens Oct. 5.