• Egypt to host major economic conference in March

    Yesterday

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's prime minister says his government will host a three-day international economic conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh starting March 13 to support the country's economy. Ibrahim Mahlab said Saturday that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are partners in organizing the gathering. The two Gulf countries are strong backers of Egypt, doling out billions of dollars to support President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government. Mahlab said the conference aims to attract international institutions and countries to invest in a "new Egypt." He said his government aims to amend investment-related laws before the conference. He said the aim is to raise Egypt's annual economic growth to 3.8 percent.

  • Iraqi forces, Islamic State group battle in Ramadi

    Yesterday

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi soldiers backed by Sunni fighters launched a major operation Saturday to retake a section of the city of Ramadi seized by Islamic State group militants, an official and residents said. The fighting focused on Ramadi's eastern Sijariya neighborhood, which the extremist group said it captured Friday. An official with the Anbar provincial council described intense fighting there Saturday morning that included both sides firing mortars. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists. Eyewitnesses there, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, corroborated his account. Meanwhile, local residents in the town of Hit, in Anbar, said civilians were k

  • UK firms Aviva, Friends Life in $8.8B merger talks

    Yesterday

    LONDON (AP) — Britain's Aviva says it is in talks to buy another insurer, Friends Life for over 5.6 billion pounds ($8.8 billion) in a deal that would create the country's leading insurance, savings and asset management company by number of customers. The companies issued a statement Friday announcing they had reached agreement on the financial terms of a transaction under which Friends Life shareholders would receive 0.74 Aviva shares for each of their shares. The companies said the offer is equal to 398.9 pence a share, or 15 percent more than Friends Life closing share price Friday. Friends Life says it is willing to recommend the deal to its shareholders, subject to agreement on other terms.

  • Nagorno-Karabkah says it killed 2 Azeri soldiers

    Yesterday

    YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Nagorno-Karabakh says its forces have killed two Azerbaijani soldiers in an operation to recover the bodies of three helicopter crew members whose craft was shot down by Azerbaijan this month. The separatist region's army revealed the overnight operation in a statement Saturday. The Azerbaijani region and some adjacent territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and ethnic Armenian local troops since the end of a six-year separatist war in 1994. Both sides report frequent shootings and attempted incursions along the cease-fire line, but a recent outbreak of fighting has been the worst in many years. The Azerbaijani defense ministry denied there had any rescue operation, Azerbaija

  • Activist group: US-led Syria strikes kill over 900

    Yesterday

    BEIRUT (AP) — A prominent Syrian activist group monitoring its civil war says U.S.-led airstrikes in the country have killed over 900 people since September, many fighters of the militant Islamic State group, though some civilians as well. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that the U.S.-led airstrikes have killed 785 militants of the extremist Islamic State group. It said the strikes also have killed 72 militants of Syria's al-Qaida's affiliate, the Nusra Front. The Observatory, which observers believe provides the conflict's most accurate death tolls, said the U.S.-led strikes also killed 52 civilians, including eight women and five children. A U.S.

  • Afghan base attack kills 8 militants, 1 soldier

    Yesterday

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says that one soldier and eight insurgents have been killed in an attack on an army base in the country's volatile east. Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the assault Saturday in Afghanistan's remote Nuristan province along the country's mountainous border with Pakistan lasted almost three hours. He says a large number of insurgents tried to overrun the base, but were turned back. Meanwhile in eastern Nangarhar province, police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal said a car bomb killed one civilian and wounded two in Jalalabad, the provincial capital.

  • Germany releases, deports convicted Russia spy

    Yesterday

    BERLIN (AP) — German authorities have released a woman convicted of spying for Russia and deported her after she served half of her prison sentence. Heidrun Anschlag and her husband Andreas, known only by the fake names on the Austrian passports they used to enter Germany, were arrested in 2011 and sentenced to 5 ½ and 6 ½ years respectively in July 2013. They were convicted of spying for Russia over more than two decades, handing over European Union and NATO documents. A spokeswoman for German federal prosecutors, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department rules, said Saturday prosecutors agreed to waive the remainder of Heidrun's sentence in view of her deportation. She couldn't say when the woman was free

  • UNL planetarium plans winter shows for 1 weekend

    Yesterday

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Mueller Planetarium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has announced two winter laser shows for one weekend only. The shows can be seen at Nebraska's full-dome digital projection theater at the State Museum in Morrill Hall on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30. "Winter Holiday Laser Adventure" is a 40-minute show features long-time favorites like "Let it Snow," ''Jingle Bell Rock" and "Sleigh Ride," as well as current pop songs in a captivating laser-light show. Along the way, follow the adventures of a laser penguin, Squeaky. Another 40-minute show, "Lasermania," features a collection of the most current rock and pop hits.

  • Portuguese police detain ex-premier in fraud case

    Yesterday

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's Attorney-General's office says police have detained former prime minister Jose Socrates as part of an investigation into corruption, money-laundering and tax fraud. A statement said Socrates, who was Portugal's prime minister from 2005 to 2011, was taken into custody late Friday with three others. News channel S.I.C. Noticias said the former center-left Socialist leader was detained when he arrived to Lisbon airport on a flight from abroad. The statement said the investigation is centering on bank transfers. Under Portugal's judicial secrecy law, no further details could be revealed.

  • Polish town opposes Pooh Bear for unclear gender

    Yesterday

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials in a Polish town have opposed a proposition to name a playground after Winnie-the-Pooh due to the bear's unclear gender and immodest clothing. The matter was debated in a closed-door meeting weeks ago in the central Polish town of Tuszyn, but didn't get much media attention in Poland until recent days. Voice recordings of the meeting were leaked to the media in which officials complained that Pooh Bear is immodestly dressed and also lacks a clear gender. One called the bear a "hermaphrodite." Some said a fully clothed Polish cartoon bear named Uszatek would be a better choice.

  • Martinez shakes up Cabinet

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    In the latest shake-up of her Cabinet before her second term begins, Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday announced four appointments, including a new state engineer to manage New Mexico’s water resources. That job will go to Tom Blaine, who has been director of the Environmental Health Division in the state Environment Department. He will replace Scott Verhines, who is stepping down as state engineer, Martinez announced. Other new appointments include Brent Earnest as Human Services Department secretary to replace the outgoing Secretary Sidonie Squier; Jay Mitchell, who will replace Greg Myers as secretary of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department; and Kelly Zunie, who will replace Art Allison as secretary of

  • Influx of cheap Peruvian quinoa riles Bolivia

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — International demand for quinoa continues to boom, and that's fueling an increasingly bitter commercial feud between Bolivia and Peru, the two main producers of the Andean "superfood." The fight pits hardscrabble, traditional organic growers mostly in Bolivia's semi-arid highlands against upstart Peruvian agribusinesses concentrated on the Pacific coast that include heavy pesticide users. Peru is about to overtake Bolivia as the top exporter, worrying Bolivians about their ability to compete. As Peru boosts production of cheaper factory-farmed quinoa, the grain is increasingly being smuggled into landlocked Bolivia to be mixed with, and sometimes sold as, organic quinoa — Bolivia's specialty, grower

  • Latin America applauds Obama's immigration plan

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto praised President Barack Obama on Friday for his executive orders granting new rights to millions of people living illegally in the United States, calling it "an act of justice." Mexicans are believed to account for more than half of the roughly 11.2 million migrants living in the U.S. without authorization. Mexico had long pressed for better conditions for them. Pena Nieto said in a speech that Obama's plan "is an act of justice that recognizes the large contributions that millions of Mexicans have made to the development of our neighbor." "These measures represent relief for immigrants, especially Mexicans," he said.

  • US warns citizens to avoid resort of Acapulco

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Mexico issued a security message Friday warning U.S. citizens to avoid the Pacific resort of Acapulco because of violence and protests. In yet another blow to a coastal city once favored by U.S. movie stars and jet-setters in the 1950s and '60s, the embassy said its personnel "have been instructed to defer non-essential travel to Acapulco, by air or land," and added that it "cautions U.S. citizens to follow the same guidelines." The alert noted that "protests and violent incidents continue in Guerrero state in response to the disappearance of 43 students there." Demonstrators have blocked highways to Acapulco, hijacked buses and blockaded the city's airport to demand the governme

  • Marine with robotic leg braces gets Bronze Star

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Marine who was left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan fulfilled a promise to himself on Friday and walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, where he was awarded a Bronze Star. The crowd of 300 Marines was silent as Capt. Derek Herrera walked. All that was heard was the faint whirring of electric motors from the device. Herrera then stood, holding onto one crutch. With his other hand, he saluted his commanding officer, who presented him the award. "Your drive and determination are great and you will continue to do great things, " Lt. Col. John J. Lynch, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, told him at Friday's ceremony.

  • Man pleads guilty in New York cybercrime case

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — A California man has pleaded guilty in New York City for his role marketing malware that federal authorities say infected more than a half-million computers worldwide. Brendan Johnston entered his plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit computer hacking before a Manhattan federal judge on Friday. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (buh-RAH'-ruh) says the 24-year-old Thousand Oaks, California, resident helped market and sell a remote access tool for the BlackShades malware. He says Johnston also provided technical assistance. Johnston's attorney says he helped customers for less than a year and has accepted responsibility for his involvement. Authorities say the computer program allowed cybercriminals t

  • US provides $68 million for Mexico justice reform

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Mexico says the U.S. government will provide $68 million over five years to assist Mexico's effort to reform its court and justice system. The U.S. government's Agency for International Development will oversee the plan, known as Promoting Justice. Mexico's slow, cumbersome paper-based trial system is being changed to something that more closely resembles the U.S. court system, though without juries. Lawyers will question and cross-examine witnesses in open court, and defendants will be considered innocent until proven guilty. Some of Mexico's 31 states have implemented parts of the reform, including changes aimed at speeding up trials and allowing leeway for non-prison sentences

  • Ex-state worker charged with stealing 610 helmets

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania state worker has been accused of stealing 610 combat helmets and faces federal charges. The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1xXwawi ) says 43-year-old Marietta resident Michael Gantz worked as an acquisition officer at the Department of General Services' surplus property warehouse. Criminal charges filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg allege that between July 2009 and January 2010 he stole combat helmets the federal government provided for distribution to state and local law enforcement officers. Investigators estimate the value of the helmets at more than $5,000. Gantz apparently doesn't have a listed telephone number and can't be reached for commen

  • Sri Lanka leader to face health minister in polls

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    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: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    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.