• New Ukraine parliament called to fight corruption

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president set out a strongly reformist agenda during the inaugural session of parliament Thursday, calling for the immediate overhaul of a justice system he said was corrupted from the top down. Petro Poroshenko said a successful reform program would enable Ukraine to consider applying for European Union membership within five years. Combatting corruption and re-orienting Ukraine toward Europe, and away from Russia, have been dominant themes of national politics since former President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February after months of protest.

  • EDITORIAL: Ban on texting while driving is common sense

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    You have to admire the tenacity of Texas state Rep. Tom Craddick. The Midland Republican recently pre-filed the Alex Brown Memorial Act, a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would impose a statewide ban on texting while driving. This isn’t the first time Craddick has introduced such a bill. In 2011, his first attempt to secure a statewide law that would restrict the activity for adult drivers throughout the Lone Star State passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, only to be vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. The governor cited concerns about government “micromanagement.” Gov.-elect Greg Abbott echoed that argument, saying on the campaign trail this year that he would not deviate from his predecess

  • India: Girls died by suicide, not slain by rapists

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    NEW DELHI (AP) — India's top investigative agency said Thursday that two teenage girls believed to have been raped and hanged by attackers in a north Indian village actually committed suicide because of shame over a relationship with a boyfriend. An earlier probe by local police and post-mortem reports were incorrect, and five innocent men were arrested, said Kanchan Prasad, spokeswoman for the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI. Six months ago, images of the girls' bodies hanging from a tree in their village of Katra in Uttar Pradesh state shocked the country, long inured to violence against women. Local police said the girls were gang-raped and murdered. The five men were arrested and later released on bai

  • BRIEF: Gear • Smartphone gloves

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    What • Marmot Connect Stretch Gloves allow you to use touchscreen devices without removing your warm gloves How much • $50, but there’s an array of styles and prices from $24 to $60 Where to buy • Alpine Shop catalog, goo.gl/FwbqzV; Marmot’s website, goo.gl/KRH23b; any store selling Marmot products Why buy it • With the proliferation of touch-screen devices, from telephones to libraries sources, cold weather can be problematic. These gloves solve the problem of having to remove handwear to make a call or text. They’re stretchy, fleece, and finger tips have conductive material that operates touch-screen devices. They’re compatible with all devices. The conductive material has no metal. Comes in sizes for

  • Hundreds of striking lawyers rally in Serbia

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian lawyers said Thursday they have asked for European Union help to resolve a more than two-month old dispute with the government that has practically paralyzed the judiciary in the country, which is seeking to join the bloc. Hundreds of lawyers rallied outside the government headquarters, vowing to persist in their demands for lower taxes and changes to the newly established notary service. Serbia's Bar Association went on strike over those demands in mid-September, putting on hold thousands of cases in the already overburdened court system. The strike prompted inmates in pre-trial detention to complain they were spending more time behind bars than necessary.

  • State law makes CPR training mandatory in high schools

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    High schools across the state will graduate students trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation after a new state law effective next school year makes CPR training mandatory for students at public high schools. "What is being required is that sometime before students graduate, they have hands-only CPR training," said Summer Bymaster, CPR instructor at Autry Technology Center. According to the American Heart Association website, hands-only CPR does not use mouth-to-mouth breaths. "It is recommended for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an euro ˜out-of-hospital' setting, such as at home, at work or in a park. It consists of two easy steps: euro ¢ Call 9-1-1 or send someone to do that.

  • Brazil's Rousseff to name economic team

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to unveil the much-anticipated economic team, tasked with jumpstarting the country's stalled economy. Major Brazilian news media say University of Chicago-trained banker Joaquim Levy is to be named finance minister for Rousseff's second term Thursday. The choice has reportedly riled some in Rousseff's left-leaning Workers' Party, but rumors of Levy's appointment have soothed jittery financial markets. The nomination of a fiscal conservative nicknamed "Scissorhands" due to his reputation for slashing costs looks likely to build investor confidence in Brazil.

  • Iran's leader doesn't oppose more nuclear talks

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's top leader on Thursday said he would not stand in the way of continued nuclear negotiations with world powers and would accept a "fair" agreement, but vowed not to bow to bullying by the United States. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke on Iranian state television, saying "I am not opposed to the extension of the talks, for the same reason that I wasn't opposed to the talks per se." Khamenei said Washington frequently changes its stances toward Iran in the talks because of its domestic problems, a reference to differences between President Obama and Republicans who now control the U.S. Congress. "They raise a word today. The other they withdraw from it, because of domestic problems,

  • Russian banker, once Putin aide, on Interpol list

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — A Russian banker once close to Vladimir Putin is now on Interpol's most-wanted list. Sergei Pugachev is wanted by Russian authorities on charges of misappropriation or embezzlement, according to the international police agency. Interpol, based in Lyon, France, wouldn't provide further comment Thursday. Pugachev, a former presidential aide once dubbed "Putin's banker," is reported to share his time between London and Monaco. His star fell dramatically in 2010, when his company Mezhprombank lost its banking license after defaulting on loans. In 2011 Pugachev fled to London, where a court ruled in July to freeze his assets in response to the Mezhprombank default.

  • Amsterdam warns of dangerous drugs after 3 deaths

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    AMSTERDAM (AP) — Health authorities in Amsterdam are warning of dangerous drugs being sold to tourists after three British men died in the past month after snorting heroin they may have believed was cocaine. A large sign outside the Dutch capital's Central Station warned Thursday, "Extremely dangerous cocaine is sold to tourists" in the area. Similar signs were set up at other popular tourist haunts in the historic city. The warning campaign was started after two British men, aged 20 and 21, were found dead in a hotel room in the city on Tuesday. Police say they likely died after snorting "white heroin" they probably bought believing it was cocaine.

  • 14 convicted in UK of sexually exploiting girls

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — Fourteen men have been convicted in Britain of running a sex ring that involved the abuse, rape and prostitution of girls as young as 13. The men, all from Somali backgrounds, were convicted in two trials that ended Wednesday. Reporting restrictions were lifted Thursday. Prosecutors said the men, in their early 20s, groomed vulnerable girls in Bristol, southwestern England, and persuaded them to have sex in return for money, drugs or alcohol. The case is the latest in a series of trials that have exposed sexual exploitation of children in cities across Britain. The cases have sparked criticism of local authorities for failing to protect the victims.

  • ECB's Draghi: Euro monetary union 'incomplete'

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    HELSINKI, Finland (AP) — European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says the euro currency union remains "incomplete" and needs to be strengthened with better oversight of member countries' economic policies to avoid future crises. Draghi said in the text of a speech Thursday in Helsinki that "for all its resilience, our union is still incomplete." He said the 18 member countries have agreed not to bail each other out through fiscal transfers — the way richer and poorer states do in the United States — so they need to find other ways of keeping problems in one member country from affecting them all.

  • Who's behind Christmas tree at Paris' Notre Dame?

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has a Christmas tree this year thanks to an unusual patron: the Russian government. Amid high tension between Russia and the West over violence in Ukraine, Russia's ambassador to France says the "tree is a message of peace." When the rector of Notre Dame told foreign embassies this month that the cathedral needed money for the huge tree, Russia was the first to offer. Ambassasdor Alexander Orlov told The Associated Press this week, "we thought this would be a rather nice present." He wouldn't say how much it cost. He insisted it has nothing to do with politics or a troubled deal to sell a French warship to Russia, stalled because of Ukraine. Still, Notre Dame officials

  • South Asian leaders reach last-minute energy deal

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — South Asian heads of state attending their first summit in three years reached a deal on energy sharing Thursday, but failed on two other economic agreements during a retreat where Indian and Pakistan leaders shook hands. Foreign ministers from the eight nations signed the agreement on distribution and transmission of electricity through a common grid at the end of the two-day summit where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, smiled at each other, spoke a few words and shook hands. The gesture between Modi and Sharif after the closing ceremony was broadcast live on television and applauded by those attending the summit. The economic agreements left uns

  • New breed of French protester: sheep

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Disgruntled farmers have brought their sheep to the Eiffel Tower to protest wolf attacks, and what they call the government's anti-farmer environmental policies. The woolly protesters munched grass near the Paris monument while their owners urged tougher measures against wolf attacks. The government says its existing plan on preventing attacks and compensating farmers is sufficient. Authorities also want to ensure protections for wolves. The march Thursday came as President Francois Hollande spoke at an environmental meeting about plans for cleaner energy and France's plans to host the U.N. Climate Change Conference next year.

  • Prince William to visit China, Japan next year

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — Kensington Palace officials say Prince William will make an official visit to China and Japan early next year. Officials said Thursday that William will spend roughly three days in each country. He is expected to travel in late February. William's wife Kate, who is pregnant, is not expected to accompany him. The palace says William will begin his trip in Japan where he will promote trade relations and cultural exchanges and also work to combat illegal wildlife trade. In China he plans to visit Shanghai, Beijing and other cities. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, visited China with her husband Prince Philip in 1986.

  • Scots to get new powers after rejecting separation

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — Britain's main political parties agreed Thursday to grant Scotland new tax and spending powers to fulfill a promise of greater autonomy made as politicians scrambled to persuade Scots to reject independence in a recent referendum. The plans are unlikely to satisfy hard-core Scottish nationalists, but could have far-reaching consequences, taking Britain toward a looser, more federated state. In a Sept. 18 referendum, 55 percent of Scottish voters opted to remain in the United Kingdom, while 45 percent voted to leave.

  • Data drive states’ fight against identity thieves

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    Indiana began a big crackdown on identity crooks this year and the results are startling: The state has saved $85 million so far by not paying out bogus tax refunds. The savings came from using research firm LexisNexis’ giant database to verify the identities on state income tax returns. By spotting false or stolen identities, the state can determine which returns are concocted and block the refunds. The Indiana Department of Revenue’s identity-matching effort is indicative of the types of data-driven programs most states have undertaken to combat an exploding number of sham tax refund filings, false Medicaid and unemployment claims and public assistance fraud that can cost governments billions of dollars. Indiana

  • Parents @ Play: Gentlemen and Ladies, start your consoles

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    For many kids (and tweens, and teens, and — let’s face it — adults, too), gaming is a part of life. It can be a great way to unwind by yourself or (better yet) to log some major parent-child bonding time. As you put the finishing touches on this year’s holiday lists, you may want to include a few of the following for your favorite gamers (or gamer wannabes). Wii U Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Set Bundle (Nintendo) Do you own a Wii U yet? If not, you won’t find a better way to start than with the Wii U Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Set Bundle, which includes the Mario Kart 8 and Nintendo Land games, an MK8 steering wheel, and, of course, the deluxe 32GB Wii U console, complete with a Mario-themed red Wii remote (or Wii-mote).

  • Italian electricity manager dies in Romania

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The general manager of an Italian-owned electricity company in Romania has died after falling from the company building in Bucharest. Enel confirmed that Matteo Cassani, the Italian general manager of Enel Energy and Enel Energy Muntenia, died Thursday. Police spokesman Bogdan Ghebaur said police and a prosecutor were investigating "a suspicious death." The 41-year-old Cassani fell onto a busy street and was treated by a passing ambulance but died immediately, said Alis Grasu, spokeswoman for the ambulance service. Television images showed the area cordoned off. Cassani had held the position since 2009 and had worked for the company in Romania since 2000.