• Egypt opens crossing to Gaza for 1st time in month

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian authorities temporarily re-opened a border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to allow Palestinians stranded outside the territory to return home, officials said. The crossing had been closed since Oct. 24, when a militant ambush killed 31 Egyptian soldiers near the border town of Rafah. Since the October attack, Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency and a dusk-to-dawn curfew for much of northern Sinai. Soldiers also started demolishing houses along the border to create a security buffer zone and block cross-border smuggling tunnels. Maher Abu Sabha, director of the crossing point on the Gaza side, said that the crossing would be open Wednesday and Thursday — but only

  • Palestinian president against Jewish state bill

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he supports Israeli members of parliament who oppose the plan to formalize Israel's status as a Jewish state. Speaking in the South African capital, Pretoria, Abbas said it is important that Israel consider what the proposed law may mean for the region. "We need to ask this question to the Israeli people and to ask this to the Israeli government: What does this bill mean for peace?" Abbas said, speaking through a translator. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promoting a bill to have the country's constitution declare it a Jewish state. Critics of the bill say it discriminates against Israel's Arab minority who make u

  • UN concerned over escalation of violence in Libya

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — The U.N. Secretary General has expressed deep concern about the recent escalation of violence in Libya, including recent airstrikes on a military air base that until this week was Tripoli's only functioning airport. In a statement Wednesday, Ban Ki-moon called on all sides to end the fighting. His envoy, Bernardino Leon, asked the head of the internationally-recognized government, Abdullah al-Thinni, to stop airstrikes on the Matiga air base, held by Islamist militias who with their allies control the capital. Al-Thinni described the strikes by Libya's air force as "preventive" against militias who were planning attacks against his government. Ban also said violations of U.N. premises in Tripoli can't be

  • Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) — Jamal Hayak is finally fixing up his restaurant, damaged a month ago in clashes between the army and militants in this northern Lebanese city. But he has little doubt violence will erupt again, and he says he fears next time it will be Islamic State group fighters battling in Tripoli's streets. "In the beginning we used to say. 'This is the last time.' Now we've had Round 21 and 22 (of fighting), so we say God knows," said Hayak, 56, grimy with dust as he fixed his shop, shelled during the four days of fighting in late October that killed over 20 people. Sunni Muslim-majority Tripoli is seen as particularly vulnerable to becoming a foothold for militants from Syria, including the Islamic State group,

  • Correction: Iraq-Bombing Baghdad story

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — In a story Nov. 25 about security in Baghdad, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name of Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman. His name is Saad Maan Ibrahim, not Maan Saad. A corrected version of the story is below: Iraq to overhaul Baghdad security to stop bombings Faced with Islamic State bombing campaign, Iraq moves to overhaul Baghdad security methods By HAMZA HENDAWI Associated Press BAGHDAD (AP) — Baghdad's neighborhood of Gorayaat, a small Shiite enclave on a bend in the Tigris River, exemplifies the failures of Iraq's security agencies trying to protect the capital from attacks by the Islamic State.

  • IMF says Egypt's economy starting to recover

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — An International Monetary Fund official says that Egypt's economy has begun to recover after four years of slow activity. The statement from Chris Jarvis late Tuesday followed an IMF delegation visit to Egypt for a long-delayed assessment of the economy. He says that Egyptian authorities "have set appropriate economic objectives." The IMF says it projects Egypt's growth to reach 3.8 percent in the fiscal year 2014/15, in line with the government's own stated goals. Egypt's growth rate has been hovering at around 2 percent since the country's 2011 revolt. Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian has said he hopes the resumption of consultations with the IMF will help restore confidence in the economy.

  • Iran parliament approve science minister nominee

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's parliament on Wednesday approved President Hassan Rouhani's nominee for ministry of science, ending a long stand-off between the moderate president and the conservative-dominated assembly. In a vote, 197 out of 235 lawmakers voted to approve Mohammad Farhadi as new head of the science, research and technology ministry. Farhadi, a physician who specializes in ear, nose and throat ailments, is currently the head of Iran's Red Crescent Society. He previously served as minister of health under former President Mohammad Khatami. Rouhani attended the parliament session on Wednesday to defend the qualifications of his nominee; Farhadi is the fifth nominee proposed by Rouhani for the post.

  • Once maligned, Iran's Jews find greater acceptance

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    YAZD, Iran (AP) — More than a thousand people trekked across Iran this past week to visit a shrine in this ancient Persian city, a pilgrimage like many others in the Islamic Republic — until you notice men there wearing yarmulkes. Iran, a home for Jews for more than 3,000 years, has the Middle East's largest Jewish population outside of Israel, a perennial foe of the country. But while Iran's Jews in recent years had their faith continually criticized by the country's previous governments, they've found new acceptance under moderate President Hassan Rouhani. "The government has listened to our grievances and requests. That we are being consulted is an important step forward," said Homayoun Samiah, leader of the Tehran Jew

  • Saudi Arabia: Deaths from MERS virus reach 348

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says that a total of 348 people have died in the kingdom after contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS. The ministry's latest figures, released late Tuesday, include two recent deaths recorded in the capital Riyadh. It brings to 810 the number of confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia since the virus was first identified in 2012. The virus has since spread to other parts of the world, though it has mostly remained centered in Saudi Arabia. MERS belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses that include both the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

  • Official: Gunmen kill 4 polio workers in Pakistan

    Updated: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen attacked a polio vaccination team Wednesday, killing four health workers, while a suspected U.S. drone strike killed four alleged militants in Pakistan, officials said. The attack on the health workers took place in the southwestern city of Quetta, while the drone strike targeted a militant hideout in the North Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan. Those killed in the attack on the outskirts of Quetta included three women, said a police spokesman Shahzada Farhat. The vaccination team of three women and three men was waiting for a police escort when two gunmen opened fire on them, he said. Local militants oppose the vaccination campaign, alleging that western governments u

  • Hong Kong police arrest student protest leaders

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities cleared more street barricades from a pro-democracy protest camp in a volatile district Wednesday, part of a two-day operation in which police arrested more than 100 people, including key student leaders. Police in helmets swiftly cleared obstructions from the 2-month-old protest site in Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the main occupied area in the financial district. Some officers used shears to cut apart plastic ties holding together metal barricades while others tore down tents and canopies and carried away other objects, including a sofa. Ranks of officers, some equipped with backpack pepper sprayers, advanced down the street.

  • UN: 12.2 million Syrians need humanitarian help

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An estimated 12.2 million Syrians need assistance because of increasing violence and deteriorating conditions in the country, up from 10.8 million in July, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Tuesday. But Valerie Amos told the U.N. Security Council that the delivery of aid from Turkey and Jordan to rebel-held areas in Syria without government approval has "made a difference." She urged the council to extend the authorization for cross-border aid which expires on Jan. 9. Amos painted a grim picture of the worsening situation in Syria: a 40 percent contraction in the economy since 2011, three-quarters of the population living in poverty, a 50 percent drop in school attendance, and 7.6 million people displac

  • France suspends delivery of warship to Russia

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    PARIS (AP) — France suspended the delivery of a warship to Russia on Tuesday, after months of speculation about what would be the biggest arms sale ever by a NATO country to the Kremlin. French President Francois Hollande's office announced the suspension "until further notice" after growing pressure from allies due to tensions over Russia's actions in Ukraine. The decision exposes France to eventual fines for not fulfilling the contract. The Vladivostok, meant for delivery this month, is docked at the French port city of Saint Nazaire, where about 400 Russian sailors have spent months training aboard the vessel.

  • Warplanes strike airport in Libya capital again

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Warplanes again bombed a Libyan military air base Tuesday that until a day earlier was Tripoli's only functioning airport, shortly after the Islamist-backed prime minister said his government was at war. Late Monday, Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi said the Cabinet will now adopt "a policy of confrontation and war," comments directed at his rivals in Libya's internationally recognized government based in the country's east.  "Now, we face an enemy that has plenty of weapons and support from abroad, and we are facing more than one country supplying it with arms," he said. Al-Hassi also sharply criticized the United Nations envoy to Libya, saying that Bernardino Leon "doesn't see the reality" of the situation

  • 2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    BAUCHI, Nigeria (AP) — The teenage girls entered the busy marketplace separately Tuesday, their vests of explosives hidden beneath their full hijabs. The first detonated her bomb, killing three women. As rescuers rushed in, the second girl screamed and set off her explosives, killing dozens more, according to witnesses and authorities. More than 40 people died in the double suicide bombing in Maiduguri, a provincial capital in northeastern Nigeria, according to Haruna Issa, a hospital volunteer in the city. Suspicion immediately fell on the insurgents from the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which controls a large part of northeastern Nigeria and is blamed for the deaths this year of at least 1,500 people in Africa

  • Cash cut to Ukraine rebel areas in risky strategy

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — For hours, small crowds in Donetsk huddle hopefully in the cold around cash machines that never get filled, as artillery rumbles in the distance. Money is running short in the rebel heartland since the government announced this month that it will suspend banking services as it piles on the pressure. Almost all ATMs have stopped working and the remainder are expected to stop operating over the next two weeks. The move is part of Ukraine's plan to suffocate its separatist foe, now that its costly military campaign has foundered. Authorities say they are also withdrawing all state services from rebel areas, although hospital and school workers in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk say it has been a while s

  • 'Jewish state' bill tests Israeli democracy

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — In the face of a rising wave of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing forward a plan to formalize by law Israel's status as "the Jewish state." Netanyahu says it's a needed response to those who question Israel's right to exist. But the measure would anger Israel's Arab minority and could draw international condemnation, severely testing a delicate balance between democracy and the country's Jewish character. Here's a look at the debate: Q: WHAT DOES THE LEGISLATION DO? A: The bill aims to officially designate Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

  • Black Friday shopping catches on in UK

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    LONDON (AP) — Halloween and Mother's Day have become staples of the U.K. shopping calendar. Now Black Friday looks as though it may be the next big retail import from the United States. Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is becoming a thing in Britain, too, thanks mainly to the marketing efforts of major retailers. Online seller Amazon is widely perceived to have first introduced Black Friday deals to the U.K. in 2010. A steady slew of retailers joined the fray each year, with a significant jump in 2013, when the Asda supermarket chain, owned by Walmart, embraced the event. This year, it's gotten even bigger and Black Friday looks to have cemented its place in the U.K. calendar. People are talking about it and pro

  • Iran leader approves further nuclear negotiations

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday gave his indirect approval for a continuation of talks over its disputed nuclear program, criticizing world powers who many frustrated Iranians believe could have worked harder to reach a deal with the country. The remarks were the first by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, since Iran and the major powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 about what agreements must be reached on what schedule. A final deal is meant to follow four months later.

  • Iran nuke talks face obstacles even with more time

    Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    VIENNA (AP) — The United States and Iran say a new deadline in nuclear talks could allow them to finally reach a deal. But Tehran's apparent reluctance to compromise may soon leave U.S. negotiators running out of ideas on how to reduce Iran's capacity to make nuclear arms. Western diplomats familiar with the talks said Tuesday they have agreed on little more than to keep talking until June 30, after failing to substantially narrow differences by Monday's deadline in Vienna. Based on information from the diplomats, progress made so far has mostly stemmed from the U.S. and its allies revising positions closer to the minimum of what they may be able to accept. Iran's demands, in contrast, have changed less — and the country