• Obama pays respects to Saudis, defends ties to kingdom

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — In a show of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, President Barack Obama led a parade of American dignitaries to the ultraconservative desert kingdom Tuesday to pay respects after King Abdullah's death and take measure of the new monarch. Obama's presence here underscored the key role Saudi Arabia plays in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and highlighted Washington's willingness to put national security priorities ahead of concerns about human rights issues. Hours before arriving in Riyadh, Obama spoke at length about the importance of women's rights during an address in India, setting up a jarring contrast with his warm embrace of Saudi Arabia, a country where there are strict limits on women's freedom

  • 5 foreigners killed in Libya

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Officials say five foreigners, an American, a French national and three citizens of former Soviet republics, died when gunman stormed a luxury hotel in the Libyan capital. Essam al-Naas, a spokesman for a Tripoli security agency, said the attack Tuesday claimed the lives of five foreigners and five guards. A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed the death of one American, but provided no details.

  • Leader of Yemen's rebels urges 'peaceful transfer of power'

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The leader of Shiite rebels who control the Yemeni capital called for a "peaceful transfer of power" on Tuesday, after his forces released a presidential aide whose abduction set in motion a violent escalation that led to the resignation of the president and the government. The escalation has plunged impoverished Yemen deeper into turmoil and pushed it closer to fracturing along sectarian and tribal lines. The prospect of a leaderless nation has also raised concerns about Washington's ability to continue targeting Yemen's local al-Qaida branch, which it considers the network's most dangerous. The Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, in September, after descending from their northern stronghold and demandi

  • British born Israeli journalist David Landau dead at 67

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — David Landau, a British born author and journalist who was a former editor-in-chief of Israel's Haaretz newspaper and also worked for the Jerusalem Post, has died. He was 67. Haaretz said he died Tuesday. The paper's obituary said he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2013. Landau was Haaretz's chief between 2004 and 2008 and launched its English language edition. Earlier, he worked for many years at the Jerusalem Post as managing editor and diplomatic correspondent. Former President Shimon Peres eulogized Landau in a statement praising his "absolute integrity." Landau wrote books on Israeli affairs, including biographies of Ariel Sharon and other Israeli leaders. He immigrate

  • Iran says it sent warning to Israel via US officials

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Tehran said Tuesday it sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported. The Jan. 18 strike in the Syrian-controlled part of the disputed Golan Heights killed Iranian Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guard, along with six Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. Both Iran and the militant Hezbollah group, close allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed Israel, which is believed to have been behind a number of airstrikes in Syria in recent years. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the airstrike.

  • UN agency halts aid to Gaza war victims over lack of funds

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A U.N. agency said Tuesday it had to suspend an aid program for Gaza war victims because of a shortfall of funding from donor countries. Robert Turner, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said "virtually none" of the $5.4 billion pledged by the international community for post-war Gaza has reached the territory. "This is distressing and unacceptable," he said. UNRWA helps refugees and their descendants from earlier Mideast wars — a majority of Gaza's 1.8 million people. The agency said it needs $720 million to help 96,000 families from this group whose homes were damaged or demolished in the 2014 war. The agency pays for repairs of homes and rent subsidies.

  • On Auschwitz anniversary, leader warns Jews again targets

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    BRZEZINKA, Poland (AP) — A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis' most notorious death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe. Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists. "For a time, we thought that

  • US loans fueled insider deal, failed power plan in Liberia

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    BUCHANAN, Liberia (AP) — The auburn-red soil and lush green vegetation lured the foreign investors to Liberia's third-largest city with visions of environmental gold. They formed a company, Buchanan Renewables, and set anchor, crafting a plan to convert swaths of rubber trees into biomass chips that would power the impoverished nation and fuel their own profits. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a little known U.S. government agency 4,700 miles away, backed the venture with $217 million in loan approvals from 2008 to 2011. Two years later, Buchanan shuttered its Liberian operations and dismissed 600 workers. It never built a promised power plant, so instead of powering a country in need, it shipped its biom

  • AP Interview: EU anti-terror chief: rehab for jihadis

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's anti-terror chief called Tuesday for countries to rehabilitate rather than punish returning jihadis with no blood on their hands, saying that some prisons have become "incubators of radicalization." EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said in an interview with The Associated Press that "if we can avoid prison, let's avoid prison." At a time when EU nations are still shocked by the attacks in France early this month, many are pushing for swift, repressive measures for anyone who has gone off to fight holy war in Syria or Iraq. And even if true criminals among the returnees need to be punished with jail time, "I don't advise to bring them all to court because it would

  • Israel says 2 rockets from Syria strike Golan Heights

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — At least two rockets launched from Syria struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights on Tuesday and Israel responded with artillery fire, the military said. The exchange came after an airstrike last week in Syria attributed to Israel killed six members of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and an Iranian general. Israel has braced for a response to that strike, beefing up its air defenses and increasing surveillance along its northern frontier. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Tuesday's fire "appeared to be intentional." He declined to comment on whether the fire may have been connected to last week's airstrike.

  • UN says no new polio cases reported in Syria for past year

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — In a rare success amid Syria's civil war, the United Nation's World Health Organization says there hasn't been a new polio case reported in the war-torn country for the past year. Salah Haithami of the WHO said Tuesday that the last polio case in Syria was in January 2014. Polio broke out in Syria in late 2013 as the country's battered health infrastructure meant that parents couldn't immunize their children. The disease ultimately infected 38 children, including two in neighboring Iraq. Haithami said the U.N.-led regional response to immunize 27 million children against the highly-contagious virus prevented it from spreading further.

  • Egypt court upholds verdict against 3 prominent activists

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's highest appeal court on Tuesday upheld convictions and three-year prison sentences for three prominent activists for violating the country's draconian law on protests, their lawyer said. The three — Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel — have already spent over a year in jail, following their arrest on charges of breaking a 2013 law that criminalizes political gatherings of more than 10 people without government permission and imposes tough penalties on violators. The decision by Cairo's Cassation Court left the three without any other legal options, said Tarek al-Awadi, their lawyer. The court also ordered the three to be on probation for three years after serving their sentences.

  • Airlines halt flights to Baghdad after gunfire hits plane

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Several airlines suspended flights to Baghdad on Tuesday after a passenger plane arriving from the Mideast's busiest airport in Dubai came under fire as it landed in the Iraqi capital. A prolonged disruption in flights could seriously limit travel options for Iraqi travelers and overseas businesspeople, diplomats and aid workers who rely on foreign carriers to deliver them to larger international transit hubs, particularly in the oil-rich Gulf. Iraqi Transportation Minister Bayan Jabr said authorities believe the shooting was unintentional — possibly from someone firing off rounds at a social event such as a wedding or funeral — but they are not ruling out the possibility that it was a

  • Kurds expand offensive after driving IS out of Syrian town

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish fighters expanded their offensive Tuesday after driving Islamic State militants from the Syrian border town of Kobani the previous day, to retake dozens of surrounding villages still held by the militants, activists and officials said. Pushing IS out of Kobani after a bloody, four-month campaign was a significant boost for both the Kurds and the U.S.-led coalition, though the U.S. Central Central Command tempered Monday's victory by saying it estimated that 90 percent of Kobani was now controlled by Kurdish forces. From Kobani, Kurdish troops took the fight Tuesday to the village of Shiran, southeast of the town, said Mustafa Bali, a Kobani-based activist. Earlier in the day, they captured the nearby v

  • Japan envoy hopeful about hostage release

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    TOKYO (AP) — Delicate negotiations were underway Tuesday to secure the release of a Japanese hostage and a Jordanian pilot held by Islamic State militants, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced questions over his government's handling of the crisis. A Japanese envoy in the Jordanian capital, Amman, voiced hopes late Monday that both Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and the Jordanian pilot would be able to return home. "I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to cooperate between the two countries (Japan and Jordan), in order for us to see the day when the Jordanian pilot and our Japanese national Mr.

  • Dubai claims title of world's busiest international airport

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The city with the world's tallest building can now boast that it's home to the world's busiest airport for international passengers too. Dubai's airport operator released figures Tuesday showing that 70.5 million passengers streamed through the sparkling halls of Dubai International last year. That's a 6 percent increase over the 66.4 million that the Gulf city's main airport handled in 2013. The rapid growth puts Dubai squarely ahead of London Heathrow for the first time on a full-year basis as the world's busiest international air hub. Heathrow reported handled 68.1 million international passengers in 2014.

  • Obama: US must balance human rights, security with Saudis

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    NEW DELHI (AP) — President Barack Obama says the U.S. must balance its advocacy for human rights in Saudi Arabia with the need to cooperate with Saudi Arabia on counterterrorism and security. Obama is set to arrive Tuesday in Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the royal family following King Abdullah's death. He says in a CNN interview before his arrival that it's most effective to apply "steady, consistent pressure" on Saudi Arabia over human rights even as the U.S. works with the Saudis to get business done. Obama says that necessary balancing act sometimes makes U.S. allies uncomfortable. But he says that throughout the rest of his presidency, he'll keep arguing to U.S. partners like Saudi Arabia that they must pursue

  • Police raid southern French town with strong jihadi network

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    PARIS (AP) — French security forces detained five people Tuesday and broke up a jihadi recruiting network in a small southern town that has sent several French youths to fight in Syria and Iraq, the interior minister said. At least six young people from Lunel, a town of about 27,000, have died in Iraq and Syria in recent months, authorities have said. In December the head of the local Muslim union, who also manages a mosque there, refused to condemn the 10 or more residents who have left Lunel to join the extremists. Instead, he charged that Hollande's harsh rhetoric against Syrian President Bashar Assad had encouraged young people to go there to fight.

  • Arab lawmakers shake up Israeli politics with historic union

    Updated: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    HAIFA, Israel (AP) — Israel's Arab political parties are banding together under one ticket for the first time ever ahead of national elections in March, hoping to boost turnout and help unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The result is an awkward political marriage of communists, Palestinian nationalists, religious Muslims, feminists and even one Jew. But Arab politicians say it will improve chronically low Arab voter turnout and help block Netanyahu from forming the next government. "We will be a central player in politics like never before," said Ayman Odeh, a first-time parliamentary candidate and the leader of the combined Arab list.

  • Argentine president seeks overhaul of intelligence services

    Updated: Mon, Jan 26, 2015

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — President Cristina Fernandez called on Congress to dissolve Argentina's intelligence services in the wake of the mysterious death of a prosecutor, strongly denying his accusation that she had sought to shield former Iranian officials suspected in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center. In a nationally televised address late Monday, her first since the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman hours before he was to give potentially explosive testimony on the alleged cover up, Fernandez said her proposal to create a new spy agency would be presented to lawmakers by the end of the week.




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