• Sri Lanka leader to face health minister in polls

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's health minister quit President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government Friday to challenge him in the upcoming elections, accusing the leader of taking the country toward an autocracy. The defection of Maithripala Sirisena, who is also No. 2 in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the largest in the ruling coalition, is a serious setback for Rajapaksa's quest for a third term. He is still popular after leading a military campaign to end a 25-year civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, but the erosion of support from within his own party is unprecedented. Sirisena left the government with three other ministers and a lawmaker, saying Friday he has been chosen as the combined opposition's presidential candi

  • Report: Grouse needs 3-mile buffer from drilling

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A government report with significant implications for the U.S. energy industry says a struggling bird species needs a 3-mile buffer between its breeding grounds and oil and gas drilling, wind farms and solar projects. The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds range across 11 western states and two Canadian provinces. A 3-mile buffer for the birds represents a much larger area than the no-occupancy zones where drilling and other activity is prohibited under some state and federal land management plans.

  • Charge: Former contractor stole from Franciscan

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former contractor at Franciscan Health Care in Tacoma managed to steal nearly 40 computers using an identification badge that wasn't deactivated when his contract ended. The News Tribune reports (http://is.gd/8aE5bX ) that 32-year-old Justin Robert Pace was charged Thursday with 18 felonies, including theft, trafficking in stolen property and burglary. He has pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court and is being held on $60,000 bail. According to charging papers, Pace was a contractor for an information technology company last year when he was assigned to a job at Franciscan. When the job ended in July, he was allowed to hold onto the ID badge because of what was described as

  • UN committee urges Myanmar action on Rohingya

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee on Friday approved a resolution urging Myanmar to allow its persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority "access to full citizenship on an equal basis." The committee adopted the resolution by consensus, though Myanmar's ambassador objected to the U.N.'s use of the term "Rohingya," saying it "will only pose a barrier on the road to solving this important issue." Myanmar's 1.3 million Rohingya have been denied citizenship and have almost no rights. Authorities want to officially categorize them as "Bengalis," implying they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. People who refuse that identity become candidates for detainment and possible deportation.

  • Mexicans turning to humor in mansion scandal

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Brad Pitt and George Clooney are intercepted by Mexico's border patrol. Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, is ready to audition for a soap opera. Everyone, according to a wave of jokes on the Internet, wants to get a foot in the door at the Mexican network Televisa, the world's largest producer of Spanish-language programming — a rush touched off by Mexico's first lady, Angelica Rivera, sharing some details of her earnings there after a 25-year acting career. The speech this week was meant to squelch criticism over her purchase of a $7 million mansion from a company that has government contracts. But by mentioning that Televisa paid her more than $6.

  • Mexico's Colima volcano spouts ash, hot rock

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Colima volcano in western Mexico has erupted, sending a column of ash about 3 miles (5 kilometers) into the air. Mexico's federal civil defense office said Friday that ash has fallen on towns as far as 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the peak, which is also known as the Volcano of Fire. Glowing hot rock tumbled down the volcano's flanks over a mile (2 kilometers) from the crater. The office says the eruption is much lower in intensity than ones in 2005 that forced evacuations. No injuries or evacuations were reported Friday. The 12,533-foot (3,820-meter) volcano is 430 miles (690 kilometers) northwest of Mexico City, on the border of Colima and Jalisco states. It is one of the most active and pote

  • United Airlines extends onboard streaming to Android devices

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    CHICAGO — United Airlines customers can now use Android devices to wirelessly stream movies and TV shows from the airline’s free on-demand video entertainment service, the Chicago-based carrier said Friday. The service announced in March was previously available only for laptops and Apple devices, shutting out smartphones and tablets that run Android, the most popular mobile operating system. The latest United app update in the Google Play store lets travelers watch hundreds of TV shows and movies on Android smartphones and tablets. Not all United aircraft are equipped to stream video to devices.

  • Current immigration laws hamstring US economy, tech industry says

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES — The presidential orders on immigration Thursday night offered little relief to the nation’s technology industry, with company executives, venture capitalists and lobbyists expressing frustration that Congress hasn’t moved to improve the processes that would allow more highly skilled foreigners to live and work in the U.S. Tech industry leaders have long complained about a skills gap in the U.S. workforce they say makes it difficult to fill technical positions. Their key concerns include the current cap on the number of H-1B work visas issued each year, the complicated and red tape-wrapped process of obtaining a green card, and the lack of a direct path from a student visa to a green card.

  • Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' school board approved new history textbooks Friday for use across the nation's second-largest state, but only after defeating six and seeing a top publisher withdraw a seventh — capping months of outcry over lessons some academics say exaggerate the influence of Moses in American democracy and negatively portray Muslims. The State Board of Education sanctioned 89 books and classroom software packages that more than 5 million public school students will begin using next fall. But it took hours of sometimes testy discussion and left publishers scrambling to make hundreds of last-minute edits, some to no avail. A proposal to delay the vote to allow the board and general public to better check those chan

  • Iran nuke talks stalled, despite Kerry efforts

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    VIENNA (AP) — Contentious nuclear talks between world powers and Tehran hit a new snag Friday after Iran apparently again turned down U.S. demands for concessions, leaving negotiations in limbo just three days before a deadline for a deal. In hours of high drama reflecting the delicate stage of the talks, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif first made, then cancelled plans to walk away from the talks — at least temporarily — for additional consultations. Such developments could have meant possible progress, suggesting that the Iranians needed political approval from Tehran to move forward.

  • Sharif asks Obama to play role on Kashmir issue

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday asked the U.S. President Barack Obama to play a role in resolving the issue of Kashmir when he travels to neighboring India, the Pakistani foreign ministry said. In a statement, the ministry said Sharif made this request when Obama called him on Friday. It said Sharif and Obama discussed recent incidents of Indian troops firing across the Line of Control that divides the disputed Kashmir region. The two leaders spoke hours after Pakistan blamed the Indian army for killing a soldier in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

  • AP PHOTOS: A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — They were the ancient world's ultimate social climbers. In one generation, the Macedonians emerged from Greece's rustic northern fringes to rule most of the world they knew, funded by the loot of the Persian Empire. In the process, and particularly in the bloodbath that followed Alexander the Great's death at age 33 in 323 B.C., they set new standards for ambition, bloody intrigue and excess that remained unrivalled until the more colorful periods of Imperial Rome. The recent discovery of a cavernous underground tomb in Amphipolis in northern Greece, dating to the twilight of Alexander's reign, has revived interest in the Macedonians.

  • Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks. Dish stopped carrying some of the Turner Broadcasting channels in October. The two companies said Friday that they mutually decided on a short-term extension to restore the service but declined further comment. Other Turner channels restored to Dish's programming include Boomerang, Adult Swim, HLN, truTV, CNN en Espanol and Turner Classic Movies. They also agreed to extend carrying TBS and TNT. Shares of Englewood, Colorado-based Dish rose $1.48, or 2.1 percent, to $73.70 on Friday while shares of Turner Broadcasting parent

  • NYC man gets prison for role in cybercrime ring

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New York City man was sentenced Friday to more than three years in prison for his role in an international cybercrime ring that prosecutors say hacked into the computers of more than a dozen financial institutions and the U.S. military's payroll service. Richard Gundersen received a 41-month prison term and was ordered to pay $88 million in restitution. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud and identity theft. The 48-year-old Brooklyn man admitted working as a "casher" for the crew. That involved opening bank accounts in the names of identity theft victims, funded by money stolen as part of the conspiracy.

  • A look at how FDA-approved robotic leg braces work

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Marine Capt. Derek Herrera, who was paralyzed by a sniper's bullet two years ago in southern Afghanistan, is walking again thanks to a set of robotic leg braces known as the ReWalk system. Herrera is the first in the United States to own the device that was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several competing products are being used and tested at U.S. rehabilitation hospitals. The following is a look at how the ReWalk system works: _____ THE DEVICE The ReWalk system is a robotic exoskeleton approved by the FDA for personal use. The person wearing it can command it to stand up, sit down or walk by using a wireless remote control worn on the wrist. Fitted metal braces supp

  • Tool to help track changes in ocean chemistry

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    SEATTLE (AP) — A new research tool launched this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is allowing scientists to better track changes in ocean chemistry along the U.S. West Coast. The tool provides real-time ocean acidification data along the coast and in some protected bays. It captures data from a couple of dozen sensors installed at shellfish farms and hatcheries and other monitoring sites in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii. University of Washington oceanographer Jan Newton, who led the collaborative effort, said the information can help shellfish growers make crucial decisions about when and how to grow shellfish.

  • Ukraine's Facebook revolution, 1 year later

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's revolution began with a status update on Facebook. Angered by another high-handed move by an increasingly unpopular government, activist reporter Mustafa Nayyem called for a rally on the country's most famous square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti — Independence Square. "As soon as there are more than 1,000 of us, we will start organizing," Nayyem wrote. He got hundreds on that damp evening of Nov. 21, 2013, the start of a protest movement that eventually would draw hundreds of thousands into the square, topple the government and propel the world into a dangerous new diplomatic phase.

  • US, Turkey still not in sync on Syria

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    ISTANBUL (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Friday became the latest in a parade of U.S. officials trying to push Turkey to step up its role in the international coalition's fight against Islamic State extremists. His visit follows weeks of public bickering between the two NATO allies. The Turkish president insists if the U.S. wants his help, it must focus less on fighting IS militants and more on toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants the U.S.-led coalition to set up a security zone in northern Syria to give moderate fighters a place to recoup and launch attacks. The U.S. has no appetite to go to war against Assad and has said a no-fly zone against Syria's air force is a n

  • Islamic State group's drive for Kobani is blunted

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — More than two months into its assault on Kobani, the Islamic State group is still pouring fighters and resources into trying to capture the besieged Syrian Kurdish town, but the drive has been blunted. Helped by more than 270 airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition, the border town's unwavering Kurdish defenders are gaining momentum — a potentially bruising reversal for the extremists who only a few weeks ago appeared to be unstoppable. The setback in Kobani is "a statement of IS group's vulnerability," said David L. Phillips, an expert on Kurdish issues. Retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. envoy for the international coalition fighting the Islamic State militants, said the group continues to mass ar

  • Space station rarity: 2 women on long-term crew

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the fact they are women. Cristoforetti, Italy's first female astronaut, is set to rocket into orbit this weekend from Kazakhstan, bound for the International Space Station. There, she will join Russia's Serova, a rarity in her homeland's male-dominated cosmonaut corps. It will be just the second time in the space station's 16-year history that two women make up the long-term, six-member crew. Just don't ask Cristoforetti or Serova about the gender issue.