By James Pearson, Alina Selyukh and Matt Spetalnick SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three American citizens detained in North Korea appealed to the U.S government on Monday for help returning home, speaking in rare interviews with U.S. One of them said his health was failing and another described his situation as "urgent." The men said they were being treated humanely but asked the U.S. Responding to the interviews, the U.S.
Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militiamen backed by US air strikes pressed a fightback against jihadist-led militants Monday, buoyed by breaking a weeks-long siege of a Shiite town. The military gains came as a senior UN rights official said the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group has carried out "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale" in Iraq, and caretaker premier Nuri al-Maliki vowed the country would be the group's "graveyard". The breakthrough at Amerli on Sunday was the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since IS-led militants overran much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad in June. The United States carried out limited air strikes in the area during the operation, the first time it has expanded its more than three-week air campaign against IS beyond north Iraq.
PARIS (AP) — The death toll in the partial collapse of a four-story apartment building in a Paris suburb has risen to eight after emergency crews pulled the bodies of a man and a woman from the rubble.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has sent official notification to Congress of his order for last week's airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops to help Iraqis threatened by Islamic State militants.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When Charlie Crist last governed Florida, his green energy and climate policies made him few friends among the state's powerful electricity corporations. Now, as the Republican-turned Democrat bids to return to the governor's mansion, it may be payback time. Florida's three largest utilities have poured money into the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott in an expensive and closely watched political battle for the nation's largest swing state. ...
Ukraine's defence minister warned on Monday that a "great war" had broken out with Russia over his country's future that could claim tens of thousands of lives. "A great war has arrived at our doorstep -- the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II. Unfortunately, the losses in such a war will be measured not in the hundreds but thousands and tens of thousands," Valeriy Geletey wrote in a Facebook post. Russia on Monday again denied either sending or planning to send troops into eastern Ukraine to help separatist rebels pursue their recent counteroffensive against the pro-Western government's forces. Geletey wrote on Monday that "hundreds of Russian soldiers and officers have permanently entered Ukraine's (eastern) 'black earth' region."
By Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and undisguised aggression" which he said had radically changed the battlefield balance as Kiev's forces suffered a further reverse in their war with pro-Moscow separatists. In the latest in a string of setbacks in the past week, Ukraine's military said it had pulled back from defending a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where troops had been battling a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko said in a speech there would be high-level personnel changes in the Ukrainian armed forces, whose troops fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev and its Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, blamed Kiev's leadership for refusing to enter into direct political talks with the separatists.
By Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's military said on Monday it had pulled its forces back from defending a vital airport in the east against Russian tanks, as President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of "direct and open aggression". The withdrawal from the civilian airport outside the city of Luhansk was the latest in a string of reverses for Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists who Kiev says have the direct support of hundreds of Russian troops and armor. A military statement said Ukrainian paratroopers were engaging a Russian tank battalion near the airport.
The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. "Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles wrote in the decision. Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give doctors more time to seek hospital privileges. "Today’s ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three of the state's five clinics.
By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared "state land, on the instructions of the political echelon" by the military-run Civil Administration. "We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move "counterproductive" to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.
A suspected case of the Ebola virus has been discovered in the Swedish capital Stockholm, a local official told AFP on Sunday. Aake Oertsqvist, a specialist in infection control responsible for the Stockholm area, was quoted as saying the risk of an Ebola outbreak in Sweden was "very low".
By Michael Martina and James Pomfret BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Pro-democracy activists vowed on Sunday to bring Hong Kong's financial hub to a standstill after China's parliament rejected their demands for the right to freely choose the former British colony's next leader in 2017. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) endorsed a framework to let only two or three candidates run in the 2017 leadership vote. All candidates must first obtain majority backing from a nominating committee likely to be stacked with Beijing loyalists. The relatively tough decision by the NPC - China's final arbiter on the city's democratic affairs - makes it almost impossible for opposition democrats to get on the ballot.