• Taliban suicide bombers kill 7 in Kabul, wound 21

    Yesterday

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban suicide bombers struck two buses carrying Afghan soldiers in Kabul early Wednesday, killing seven people and wounding 21, just a day after the signing of a key U.S.-Afghan security pact. The long-awaited deal allows U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of 2014, ending the uncertainty over the fate of foreign troops supporting Afghans as they take over the fight against the Taliban insurgency. Wednesday's attacks involved two suicide bombers targeting buses carrying Afghan troops in the country's capital. The first attacker hit a bus with Afghan National Army officers in west Kabul, killing seven and wounding 15, said the city's criminal investigation police chief Mohammad

  • Lawyer: Briton on death row in Pakistan attacked

    Yesterday

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — A lawyer for a mentally-ill British man on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy asked authorities Thursday to keep his client in hospital after a prison guard shot and wounded him. Mohammed Asghar's attorney said his life would be in danger if he is taken back to prison. "An emergency application has been lodged as Mr. Asghar's health has deteriorated following the shooting," the attorney, Aamer Anwar, said in a statement. Asghar was wounded last week when a prison guard opened fire on him at the high-security Adyala Jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. The attacker was quickly arrested by other guards. Asghar was arrested in 2010 for claiming to be the Prophet Muhammad. He was sentenced in J

  • Philippines won't send troops to unclear mission

    Yesterday

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president said Wednesday his government would no longer deploy peacekeepers in "impossible" missions like the Golan Heights, where Filipino forces were attacked by Syrian insurgents. President Benigno Aquino III said hundreds of Filipino peacekeepers were tasked to guard a U.N.-patrolled buffer zone separating Israel and Syria. But when the Syrian civil war spilled over and Islamic militants started attacking the Filipinos and other peacekeepers, their mission became unclear and highly dangerous. The Philippines decided to withdraw the peacekeepers ahead of schedule, ending a 5-year presence in the increasingly volatile Golan Heights. Philippine military officials also feuded

  • Australian Parliament passes counterterror laws

    Yesterday

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian Parliament has passed a raft of counterterrorism laws that extend secret service powers despite some lawmakers' concerns about its impact on press freedom. The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill, which became law on Wednesday, gives greater search and surveillance powers to the nation's domestic spy agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The most contentious section of legislation carries a potential 10-year prison sentence for anyone who discloses information that relates to a "special intelligence operation." The national journalists' union, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, condemned the law as "an outrageous attack on press freedom in Austra

  • Myanmar awards licenses to 9 foreign banks

    Yesterday

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar says it has awarded licenses to nine foreign banks. Wednesday's announcement is part of economic reforms implemented after the country emerged from a half-century of dictatorship. It ends a ban on overseas lending institutions. The Central Bank said Bangkok Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, and United Overseas Bank were among those that won licenses for limited operations. Others include Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Malayan Banking Berhard (Maybank). The banks will be allowed to operate just one branch and cannot engage in retail banking. They can only lend to foreign investors in foreign currencies, not the local ky

  • Small countries struggle to be heard at the UN

    Yesterday

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Honduras, terrorized by drug gangs, railed against the world for ignoring the violence and lack of jobs that sends thousands of young Central Americans fleeing north to the United States. Nepal, a poor landlocked country, called for bridging the "digital divide" along with a global code of conduct to regulate the flow of information. These are just a few of the concerns of small countries whose voices and pleas at the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting are almost always drowned out by the agendas of the big powers. This year's top item was the fight against Islamic extremist groups whose tentacles have spread from the Mideast to Europe and Africa. Other hot topics were combating Ebola a

  • Australia sends 2 unarmed support planes over Iraq

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister says the air force is sending two unarmed planes to support U.S.-led coalition combat operations over Iraq, but will not yet launch its own airstrikes. Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament an E-7A Wedgetail early warning and control aircraft and a KC-30A refueling aircraft would join operations from Wednesday from the al-Minhad Air Base outside Dubai. He says Cabinet ministers are awaiting final clearances from the Iraqi government before they make their final decision on committing to combat missions. The Australian government can commit troops to war without asking Parliament for permission.

  • Serena Williams headlines Hopman Cup field

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    PERTH, Australia (AP) — Top-ranked Serena Williams will combine with Wimbledon doubles champion Jack Sock in the United States team which will compete in a star-studded Hopman Cup tournament in January. Williams won the Cup with James Blake in 2003 and Mardy Fish in 2008 and will again use the tournament as preparation for the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, the Australian Open. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will combine with Alize Cornet in a French team playing in Group B with Australia, Great Britain and Poland. Two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray will play for Britain alongside Heather Watson. Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, rising Australian star Nick Kyrgios and world No.6 Agnieszka Radwanska

  • WADA will not appeal NRL doping bans

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    SYDNEY (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency will not appeal sanctions imposed on Cronulla players for breaches of the National Rugby League's anti-doping rules, but has raised concerns about the handling of the matter. WADA released a statement Wednesday saying it had reviewed the cases and would not challenge the leniency of sentences imposed on Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and 11 current or former Sharks teammates, despite raising concerns about being "not entirely satisfied with the outcome of this case.

  • Stocks slip, leaving S&P 500 down for September

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — A suddenly stormy month on the stock market came to a quiet end on Tuesday. Major indexes drifted to a slight loss, leaving the Standard & Poor's 500 down 1.6 percent for September, its third monthly drop this year. The market spent Tuesday wavering between minor gains and losses, but there were big moves beneath the surface. Crude oil prices plunged, dragging down Chevron and other oil and gas companies. Ford Motor fell after cutting its profit forecast, while eBay jumped after announcing plans to spin off PayPal. Trading has turned choppy over recent weeks. Lingering concerns over conflicts around the world, corporate profits and the strength of the global economy have all played a role, said Robert Pavlik

  • Myanmar says sectarian violence challenges reforms

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Sectarian violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims has thrown up "an unfortunate and unexpected challenge" in Myanmar's transition to democracy, the nation's foreign minister said Tuesday, but denied the unrest has been fueled by racism. Wunna Maung Lwin told The Associated Press in an interview that the former pariah state's shift from military rule remained on track. He said next year's pivotal elections would be free and fair, but he wouldn't comment on whether opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be able to run for president.

  • Al Hilal reaches Asian Champions League final

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Al Hilal advanced to the AFC Asian Champions League final on Tuesday despite a 2-1 away defeat by 10-man Al Ain in their semifinal second leg. The Saudi Arabian side, 3-0 up from the first leg, came through 4-2 on aggregate at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Lee Mjung-joo opened the scoring for Al Ain with a header after 10 minutes, while Nasser Al Shamrani equalized for the visitors in the 65th. Despite Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan being given a straight red card four minutes later for a lunging tackle, Jires Kembo Ekoko struck again for the United Arab Emirates side in the 77th. "Al AIn played well and they deserved also to reach the final, but happily we proved ourselves," Hilal

  • Afghanistan, US sign long-awaited security pact

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan and the United States signed a security pact on Tuesday to allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year, ending a year of uncertainty over the fate of foreign troops supporting Afghans as they take over the fight against the Taliban insurgency. Under the pact, along with a separate deal signed with NATO, about 10,000 American troops and several thousand more from other NATO countries will stay to train and advise Afghan forces, after the international combat mission ends Dec. 31. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign it despite U.S. threats of a full withdrawal in the absence of legal protections for American forces. U.S.

  • Myanmar and Sri Lankan hard-liners ink agreement

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A Myanmar Buddhist monk and a Sri Lankan ultranationalist both known for campaigning against Muslims signed an agreement on Tuesday to work together to protect Buddhism, which they say is being challenged worldwide. Ashin Wirathu leads the fundamentalist 969 movement that has been accused of instigating deadly violence against minority Muslims in Myanmar. He was a special invitee Sunday at a rally of Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force, which also has been accused of instigating violence and claims minority Muslims are trying to take over Sri Lanka by having more children, marrying Buddhist women and taking over businesses.

  • Qantas puts world's largest plane on longest route

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Qantas is putting the world's biggest passenger plane on the world's longest airline route. A Qantas Airbus A380 touched down Monday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport about 15 hours after leaving Sydney, Australia, on the 8,578-mile journey. The double-deck, four-engine jet was greeted with a water-cannon salute, then taxied to a two-story gate that was configured just for the behemoth. The inaugural flight carried a full load of 484 passengers, according to a Qantas spokesman. DFW is a large airport with connecting flights throughout the U.S. and Latin America, making it ideal for the plane and the route. But the A380's size also limits its appeal.

  • Nepal football chief accused of embezzlement

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's powerful parliamentary committee accused the long-time chief of the national football association of embezzling millions and ordered government agencies to investigate, file a case in court, and suspend him. Ramhari Khatiwada of parliament's public accounts committee said on Tuesday they have ordered the government to immediately begin the investigation and suspend Ganesh Thapa as president of the All Nepal Football Association. Thapa has been accused by the committee of embezzling 582 million rupees (about $6 million) during his 19-year tenure in the office. "There are no proper records or audit reports of where much of the funds received from FIFA or AFC for development of football in

  • Putin visits Kazakhstan after remarks cause alarm

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Kazakhstan on Tuesday to stress the need for close ties between the two countries, a month after he caused alarm in the former Soviet republic by seeming to question its future as an independent state. During a meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Putin said Russia and Kazakhstan were "connected historically and today by a thousand threads, which unite us and help us develop, supporting each other." Speaking to young Russians in late August, Putin said Kazakhstan had only become a state under Nazarbayev. "The Kazakhs had never had statehood," Putin said at the time. "He created it. In this sense he is a unique person for the former Soviet space and for Kaz

  • Nicole Kidman reveals heartbreak at father's death

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    SYDNEY (AP) — Nicole Kidman revealed she was heartbroken over the death of her father this month and thanked well-wishers for their comforting thoughts and prayers. "We would just like to thank everyone for their love and prayers over these past couple of weeks," the actress and her singer husband Keith Urban said in a joint statement posted Tuesday on Facebook. "We are all heartbroken, but knowing we are in the hearts and thoughts of others is so comforting," they added. They signed off: "Sending love, Nic and Keith xx." The Australian star of this year's "Grace of Monaco" returned to her home of Sydney after her psychologist father Tony Kidman died during a vacation in Singapore on Sept. 12.

  • Thai man gets death penalty for train rape, murder

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    BANGKOK (AP) — A former railway worker in Thailand was sentenced to death Tuesday for raping a 13-year-old girl on an overnight train, then killing her and throwing her body out the window, an attack that sparked outrage in the Southeast Asian nation and prompted calls for the execution of rapists. The case also raised questions about the safety of Thailand's long-distance trains, which are popular with tourists who visit the country's southern beaches and enjoy jungle treks in the north. As a result of the girl's murder in July, the State Railway of Thailand introduced a women's-only carriage on main routes for overnight trains. The attacker, 22-year-old Wanchai Saengkhao, was a temporary train employee whose job it was to

  • Chinese patriotism fuels cruises to disputed isles

    Updated: Tue, Sep 30, 2014

    ABOARD THE COCONUT PRINCESS (AP) — On a cruise more about politics than pleasure, Zhang Jing watched the gray shells of the Paracel Islands emerge from the purple, pre-dawn South China Sea. Cheers erupted on board at the sight of the distant land, and Zhang and the other passengers scurried to take pictures of each other at the railing holding China's bright red flag. A few miles away, a Chinese navy frigate cruised by silently, part of the country's continuing watch over the tiny islands it has long claimed as part of its territory. "This is the southern frontier of China," Zhang, a policeman, said when he had reached one of the islands. "As a Chinese, I feel proud to come here and declare sovereignty.