• Corruption saps enthusiasm for east Ukraine rebels

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — As battle raged in rebellion-wracked eastern Ukraine, cargo trains piled high with coal thundered along rail tracks to keep heating and power going to households in rebel-held territory. Coal is the lifeblood of this region dominated by pro-Russian separatists — and now the source of its first corruption scandal. The former energy minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic has accused a top rebel official of pocketing money from the sale of coal to power plants. Both men are now languishing in jail in connection with an investigation into abuse of authority.

  • Iraq: Ballet school speaks to city's resilience

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Ann Khalid did not feel well but she insisted on dancing a brief scene from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake with her classmates. The 12-year-old is determined to one day have a career dancing and teaching ballet, not an easy path in a country torn for years by conflict. "My school and my church are the two things I love the most in Baghdad," the soft-spoken Khalid, in her black leotard and white ballet shoes, said with pride after the dance. If she has a shot at her dream, it's because of the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet. The school has managed to survive decades of turmoil, a feat that speaks to the resilience of Baghdad's residents through war after war.

  • Kasparov likens Putin to Hitler, urges West to act

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Russian chess master and political activist Garry Kasparov compared President Vladimir Putin's "one-man dictatorship" to the rule of Adolf Hitler on Thursday, warning that if the West fails to stop him now the price to do so could rise. Kasparov also argued that Western leaders should not try to appease Putin in a search for strategic ground with him on issues such as Iran's nuclear program and the fighting in Syria and Iraq, because Putin has no real interest in compromise and instead needs instability to try to justify staying in power. "Pretending that Putin has a certain strategic interest that can be shared, it's wrong.

  • Surge of Russian aircraft seen over Baltic Sea

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russia's increased military presence in the Baltic Sea area, including its air force, has prompted some officials to compare it to the Cold War. Here's a summary of the most serious incidents reported across the region. ESTONIA NATO member Estonia says Russian aircraft have violated its airspace six times this year, a sharp increase compared to previous years. The most serious incident happened on Oct. 21, when a Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft crossed into Estonia's airspace for about a minute near the island of Saaremaa. Estonia summoned Russia's ambassador to lodge a formal complaint.

  • NATO: Russian activity in Baltic region poses risk

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — NATO's chief said Thursday that Russia's growing military presence in the skies above the Baltic region is unjustified and that its aircraft regularly fail to file flight plans or communicate with air controllers, and fly with their transponders off, posing a risk to civil aviation. At the Amari air base in Estonia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance fighters have intercepted planes more than 100 times in the region so far this year, a threefold increase on 2013. But he didn't say how many of them were Russian.

  • Iran firm displays US-made helicopters

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian company on Thursday displayed four brand new U.S.-made helicopters it purchased through third parties, offering them as proof that the country could evade international sanctions over its disputed nuclear program. The display of the R-44 helicopters came during an air exhibition in Kish Island, in the Persian Gulf. The four-person helicopters are manufactured by the California-based Robinson Helicopter Company. Mahmoud Azin, the head of Iran's Helicopters Company, told the Tasnim news website that the helicopters were purchased at a marked-up price through "dealers" and can be used for both training and police air patrols. His company, which has some 25 helicopters, mainly serves Iranian

  • Swedish appeals court upholds Assange detention

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish appeals court upheld the detention order on Julian Assange on Thursday, dismissing a challenge by the WikiLeaks founder who is wanted by prosecutors in an investigation of alleged sex crimes. Confirming a ruling by a lower court, the Svea appeals court said there is no reason to lift the detention order just because it can't be enforced at the moment. Assange has avoided being extradited to Sweden by taking shelter in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012. The court also criticized the prosecutors, who have declined Assange's offer to be questioned in London, for not considering "alternative avenues" to move the investigation forward.

  • Police fire tear gas at legislators in Nigeria

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's Senate president has suspended legislative proceedings in the National Assembly until Tuesday following a lockout of members by the police. Senate President David Mark announced the lockout after police fired tear gas to prevent the House of Representatives from convening. Members of parliament resorted to scaling parliament's gate to get inside. Despite the tear gas, some lawmakers forced their way inside. Some opposition lawmakers shouted that President Goodluck Jonathan must be impeached. The speaker of the House recently changed allegiance from the president's party to the main opposition party. Afterward the police withdrew his security clearance, triggering Thursday's standoff.

  • Russia: North Korea ready to resume nuclear talks

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    MOSCOW (AP) — North Korea says it's ready to resume international talks on its nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister said Thursday as Moscow sought to raise its profile in the international standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke after meeting with Choe Ryong Hae, a special envoy for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who earlier this week gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a letter from Kim. North Korea has wanted to resume talks for a long time, but the U.S. Japan and South Korea say it needs to honor its previous commitments first to shut down its nuclear programs.

  • Kerry says 'we are not talking about an extension' as Iran nuclear negotiations near deadline

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    PARIS (AP) — Kerry says 'we are not talking about an extension' as Iran nuclear negotiations near deadline.

  • US Navy ships briefly collide in Gulf of Aden

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A US Navy spokesman says two of its supply ships briefly collided in the Gulf of Aden but that no one was injured. The spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, says the USNS Amelia Earhart and the USNS Walter S. Diehl were involved in a minor collision during an exchange of goods early on Thursday. Stephens, who spoke to The Associated Press over the phone, says the ships continued to operate with "relatively minor damage." The two ships resupply U.S. Navy warships that conduct operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain.

  • How UN's N. Korean resolution divides main players

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is angrily reacting to a landmark U.N. resolution on its widely condemned human rights record with a threat to bolster its 1.2 million-member military and conduct a fourth nuclear test. This is not the first U.N. resolution to castigate North Korea over human rights, but it is the first to urge the Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court, and it includes the idea that its autocratic leader, Kim Jong Un, could be targeted by prosecutors. The non-binding resolution will come before the U.N. General Assembly in the coming weeks after its human rights committee approved it Tuesday.

  • Pope demands just distribution of world's bounty

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    ROME (AP) — Pope Francis demanded a more just distribution of the world's bounty for the poor and hungry Thursday, telling a U.N. conference on nutrition that access to food is a basic human right that shouldn't be subject to market speculation and quests for profit. "We ask for dignity, not for charity," Francis told the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. His speech came a day after more than 170 countries at the conference adopted new voluntary guidelines to prevent malnutrition, promote healthy diets and reduce levels of obesity around the globe. Currently, one-third of the world's population suffers from nutritional deficiencies of the sort that caused 45 percent of all child deaths in 2013, according to U.N.

  • Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Jakub Marczewski grew a beard six years ago because he was too lazy to shave. Now he finds himself in the middle of a global trend. The 21-year-old got his hair and beard trimmed at a new shop with a hip retro vibe, the Barberian Academy & Barber Shop, which opened in Warsaw last month to serve the growing number of Polish men with facial hair. A revival in the culture of barbering in this Eastern European capital is just one sign of how popular beards have become, with actors, athletes and hipsters leading the way. Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards. "Worldwide, we are at the height of facial hair," said Allan Peterkin, a Toronto psychiatrist and author of "One Thousand Beards: A Cu

  • Do's and don'ts for Thai tourists in Japan

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's Embassy in Japan has some tips for Thai visitors: Don't put your chopsticks in the serving bowl. If driving, stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. And just because you have kids doesn't mean you can cut the queue. The advice is part of a new online manners guide the embassy has posted on its Facebook page in response to criticism on social media about the behavior of Thai tourists in Japan. Most of the criticism came from Thai residents in Japan who reported sightings of "inappropriate" behavior on a popular Thai web forum, which inspired the embassy's consular chief to pen the list of 10 do's and don'ts. "Japanese society is very unique.

  • Amnesty report: Turkey strained by Syrian refugees

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    ISTANBUL (AP) — With Turkey's government-run refugee camps operating at full capacity, more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have flocked to Turkey to escape fighting at home are struggling to survive on their own, according to an Amnesty International report released Thursday. Turkey, which hosts half of the 3.2 million refugees who have fled Syria, is shouldering the heaviest burden of what the report calls the world's worst refugee crisis in a generation. "In three days in September 2014, Turkey received some 130,000 refugees from Syria — more than the entire European Union had in the past three years," the report said. It also detailed cases where Turkish border guards have abused — even killed — refugees

  • Kerry in diplomatic overdrive on Iran nuclear deal

    Updated: Thu, Nov 20, 2014

    LONDON (AP) — With a deadline for Iranian nuclear deal fast approaching, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embarked Wednesday on a frenzy of high-stakes diplomacy in a last-minute push to secure an agreement — or at least prevent the process from collapsing. As senior negotiators huddled for a second day in Vienna, Kerry held separate meetings in London. He planned a trip to Paris Wednesday. Kerry was still weighing when he might join the larger effort in the Austrian capital where negotiators are racing against the clock to forge a pact over the next five days to prevent Iran from reaching the capability to produce atomic weapons.

  • Police arrest guru ending India standoff

    Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian police have arrested a controversial religious leader at his sprawling ashram in the northern part of the country, ending a days-long standoff in which six people died and hundreds were injured. Jawahar Yadav, a Haryana state government spokesman, said police had arrested Sant Rampal and taken him away in an ambulance. No violence or confrontation took place between his supporters and the police at the time of his arrest, Yadav told reporters. Nearly 15,000 of his supporters were evacuated from the ashram before he was taken into custody, Yadav said. The self-styled guru was taken to Chandigarh, the state capital, where he was to appear before a court Friday.

  • Police: Miss Honduras, sister slain in jealous fit

    Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2014

    SANTA BARBARA, Honduras (AP) — The dark-haired beauty was to have flown to London Wednesday to compete in the Miss World pageant — the high point of her reign as Miss Honduras. But the beauty queen and her sister were found shot dead on a remote river bank, and police said the sister's boyfriend confessed to killing them in a jealous rage over his girlfriend dancing with another man. Bodies believed to be 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado and her 23-year-old sister, Sofia, were discovered buried near the spa where they disappeared a week earlier while celebrating the boyfriend's birthday. At some point during the night of Nov.

  • Colombia, rebels agree on steps to free general

    Updated: Wed, Nov 19, 2014

    HAVANA (AP) — Countries assisting peace talks between Colombia's government and leftist rebels said Wednesday night that an agreement has been reached to free a general whose capture jeopardized the negotiations. A joint statement from Cuba and Norway said the two sides agreed "on the conditions for the release" of Colombian army Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate and four others taken captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in recent days. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos immediately celebrated the accord, saying in a statement that government peace negotiators would return to Havana as soon as all the prisoners were released. "God bless, I'm thrilled," Alzate's wife, Claudia Farfan, told The Associated Pres