• UN: Pro-Russian rebels, Ukraine target civilians

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    GENEVA (AP) — Around three dozen people a day are being killed in eastern Ukraine where both sides target civilians in violation of international law and the death toll has risen to at least 2,220, the U.N. human rights office said Friday. The latest findings from the Geneva office, based on reports from a 34-member U.N. monitoring mission in Ukraine, show both sides committing a range of abuses targeting civilians trapped in urban areas or trying to flee through so-called safe corridors. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have carried out murders, torture and abductions along with other serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, according to the mission's field work between July 16 and Aug. 17

  • Key events in the history of Malaysia Airlines

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Key dates in the history of Malaysia Airlines from its start as a one route airline until its almost unfathomable double passenger jet disasters in 2014. 1937 — Malayan Airways Ltd., the forerunner of Malaysia Airlines, is formed to provide flights between Penang in Malaya and Singapore, both part of the British empire at the time. 1963 — A now independent Malaysia absorbs neighboring British colonies and the national carrier becomes Malaysian Airlines Ltd. 1972 — The carrier is renamed Malaysian Airline System and later branded as Malaysia Airlines. 2012 — Wins "World's Best Crew" award from airline rating firm Skytrax, the 7th time it has claimed that industry accolade sin

  • With a splat, paintball fires into Afghanistan

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The hidden gunman, dressed in long green coveralls and a SWAT-team-style vest and helmet, looks ominous as he takes aim and fires off a short burst. But this isn't a Taliban attack in the heart of Afghanistan's capital — it's just a friendly game of paintball. The arrival of recreational paintball to Afghanistan may seem peculiar to outsiders, especially in a country that's known decades of war, faces constant bombings and attacks by Taliban insurgents and is preparing its own security forces for the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of the year.

  • German economic fears growing but Merkel strong

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Ordinary Germans are spooked about the future. Businesses are starting to see black clouds on the horizon. And an economy that has been the envy of Europe is showing cracks, shrinking unexpectedly last quarter amid the conflict in Ukraine. It might seem like enough to put any leader into trouble. But Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity remains sky-high — with nobody in sight to touch her. It shows the German public is prepared to endure some hardships — such as a rise in energy costs if the sanctions war with Russia escalates — as long as Merkel is seen as dealing strongly with the crisis.

  • Playboy model jailed in Australia for drug role

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    SYDNEY (AP) — Former Playboy model Brandi Brandt has been sentenced to up to six years in prison for being part of ring smuggling drugs into Australia. Brandt was once married to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx. She pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to import drugs. Prosecutors said she was part of a drug syndicate that hid packages of cocaine on Qantas and United Airlines passenger planes that flew from California to Sydney in 2007. District Court Judge Peter Zahra said on Friday that Brandt was substantially less involved than others in the drug ring. Defense attorney Phillip Boulten argued she'd had a hard life, with a dysfunctional upbringing. Brandt will be eligible for parole in November 2016.

  • OK, so we have germs. But they're our unique germs

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Sorry, clean freaks. No matter how well you scrub your home, it's covered in bacteria from your own body. And if you pack up and move, new research shows, you'll rapidly transfer your unique microbial fingerprint to the doorknobs, countertops and floors in your new house, too. In fact, researchers who studied seven families in Illinois, Washington and California could easily match up who lived where using their microscopic roommates, almost like CSI for germs. Thursday's study is part of an effort to understand how the trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria that live in and on our bodies — what's called the human microbiome — interact with bugs in the environment to affect our health.

  • Arson attack interrupts Berlin public transport

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Police say a leftist group is claiming responsibility for an arson attack on Berlin's subway system that is causing delays for thousands of commuters. Police spokesman Klaus Schubert said Friday an anonymous online message from the group claims it set fire to a power-cable shaft in the capital's Treptow neighborhood Thursday morning to call attention to the conditions of illegal refugees in Germany. Schubert says police are trying to verify the authorship of the statement as part of the investigation into the attack. Germany's national railway Deutsche Bahn, which operates the Berlin commuter system and whose trains use the same tracks, said repair works would last until Sunday. In the meantime, passenge

  • Bahrain: No invitation to expelled US diplomat

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain has denied that it offered an invitation to a top U.S. diplomat who was earlier expelled after he met with a leading Shiite opposition group, extending a rift between Washington and the tiny, strategic Gulf nation. The island kingdom's undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Abdullatif Abdulla, said in comments posted by the official Bahrain News Agency on Thursday evening that no invitation has been made to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski. Abdulla was responding to comments by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki earlier this week, who said Malinowski had received an invitation and that a trip was being planned.

  • Obama cautions against using force to solve crises

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with deepening crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, President Barack Obama is putting the brakes on the notion that American military power can solve either conflict. While that stance is in keeping with Obama's long-standing aversion to military entanglements, it comes at a time when the effectiveness of his preferred options is being challenged and there are indications that some in the administration are ready to take more robust actions. In the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Obama has relied largely on coordinated U.S. and European Union sanctions to try to shift Russian President Vladimir Putin's calculus.

  • Russian fund with US advisers eludes sanctions

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama warns of stepped-up economic punishments against Russia for its military incursions inside Ukraine, U.S. sanctions have so far avoided one prominent financial institution: the $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has partnered with brand-name American companies and whose advisers include top U.S. and European private equity executives. Despite its ties to Russian state businesses and officials, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has managed to operate unaffected by the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's military actions in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government said Russian troops invaded southeastern Ukraine on Thursday with t

  • Dozens of planes grounded in German pilot strike

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of passengers are feeling the impact of a pilots strike in Germany after negotiations between the country's biggest airline Lufthansa and the union representing pilots collapsed over a long-running dispute regarding wages and early retirement benefits. Germanwings, a subsidiary of Germany's biggest airline Lufthansa, said up to 15,000 passengers were affected by Friday's strike which started at 6 a.m. and was to last until noon local time (0400-1000 GMT). More than a hundred flights, mostly domestic connections from airports in Cologne, Stuttgart, Duesseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, Hamburg and Berlin, were grounded by the strike. The airline said on its website it was trying to rebook customers f

  • Papua New Guinea volcano erupts, locals evacuate

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted Friday after a volcanic eruption on Papua New Guinea. Authorities in the South Pacific nation had evacuated communities close to Mount Tavurvur which erupted early Friday in Rabaul district on New Britain Island, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. Residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, had been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, the statement said. Local resident David Flinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the volcano was emitting steam and occasionally boomed. Flinn said about one centimeter (half an inch) of ash covered surrounding areas.

  • Quake rattles southern Greece, capital city

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — An earthquake has rattled southern Greece and was widely felt in the capital, Athens. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury and no tsunami warnings. The U.S. Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 5.6, while the European Mediterranean Seismological Center gave it as 5.8. It is common for different seismology centers to give varying magnitudes. The quake struck at 6:45 a.m. local time (0345 GMT) and had an epicenter beneath the seabed about 140 kilometers (86 miles) south of Athens and near the island of Milos. Greek radio stations receiving call-ins from listeners said the quake was widely felt across the country, from the southern island of Crete to northern Greece.

  • Ukraine accuses Russia of sending in tanks, armor

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine accused Russia on Thursday of entering its territory with tanks, artillery and troops, and Western powers said Moscow had "outright lied" about its role and dangerously escalated the conflict. Russia dismissed the allegations, describing the fighters there as "Russian volunteers." The Kremlin has repeatedly denied arming and supporting the separatists who have been fighting Ukrainian troops for four months in the gravest crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. NATO said at least 1,000 Russian troops are in Ukraine and later released what it said were satellite photos of Russian self-propelled artillery units moving last week.

  • UN: Ebola disease caseload could reach 20,000

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    GENEVA (AP) — The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is accelerating and could grow six times larger to infect as many as 20,000 people, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The U.N. health agency unveiled a new road map for containing the virus, and scientists are fast-tracking efforts to find a treatment or vaccine. Ebola has menaced Africa for 40 years, but previously struck in remote villages and was contained fairly quickly. This time, it has spread to major cities in four countries, provoking unrest as whole neighborhoods and towns have been sealed to the outside. An experimental vaccine developed by the U.S. government and GlaxoSmithKline will be tested on humans starting next week, the U.S. National Institutes of

  • Philippine man sentenced to death in Vietnam

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — State media say a court in Hanoi has sentenced a Philippine man to death for cocaine trafficking. The Law and Society newspaper says that Emmanuel Sillo Camacho, 39, was convicted of trafficking 3.4 kilograms (7.5 pounds) of cocaine from Brazil to Vietnam at a one-day trial Thursday. Camacho was arrested in December last year when officials at Hanoi's Noi Bai international airport found the drugs in his luggage. The newspaper quoted Camacho as telling the court that he transported the drug for a Philippine woman living in Brazil after she promised to find him a job with monthly salary of up to $1,500 in the South American country. Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws, where tr

  • UN: Armed group detains 43 peacekeepers in Syria

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An armed group detained 43 U.N. peacekeepers during fighting in Syria early Thursday and another 81 peacekeepers are trapped, the United Nations said. The peacekeepers were detained on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during a "period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces," the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. It said another 81 peacekeepers are "currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah." The statement did not specify which armed group is holding the peacekeepers. Various Syrian rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have been fighting the Syrian military nea

  • Colombia allows lesbian couple to adopt child

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has taken a major step recognizing the rights of same-sex couples after the country's constitutional court allowed a lesbian couple to adopt a child born to one of its members. Ana Leiderman gave birth to two children via artificial insemination. Her longtime partner Veronica Botero however doesn't have any custodial or legal rights over the children, now ages 4 and 6. The couple petitioned for full legal rights after the first child was born. The decision comes on the heels of a number of favorable gay-friendly rulings in Colombia and other parts of Latin America.

  • Virgin Australia airline posts $333 million loss

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's second largest airline, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd., said on Friday it lost 356 million Australian dollars ($333 million) in its last fiscal year, a three-fold increase over the previous year. The results for the year through June 2014 followed a AU$98 loss the previous year. The company blamed excess market capacity due to competition from its larger rival Qantas Airways Ltd., weak consumer sentiment and the AU$52 million cost of Australia's carbon tax. "The 2014 Financial Year has seen one of the most difficult operating environments in the history of Australian aviation," Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said in a statement. Qantas on Thursday posted a AU$2.8 billion loss for the y

  • Google building fleet of package-delivering drones

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google's secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly. The ambitious program announced Thursday escalates Google's technological arms race with rival Amazon.com Inc., which also is experimenting with self-flying vehicles to carry merchandise bought by customers of its online store. Amazon is mounting its own challenges to Google in online video, digital advertising and mobile computing in a battle that also involves Apple Inc. Google Inc. calls its foray into drones "Project Wing.