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Putin, Obama discuss Syria, Ukraine

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 05:43 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin says Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have held a telephone conversation about the Syrian war and the unresolved conflict in Ukraine.

A Sunday statement said the call took place at Washington's initiative, but didn't specify when it occurred.

Indonesian officials, clerics ban Valentine's Day observance

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 05:26 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian officials and Muslim clerics have banned young Muslims from celebrating Valentine's Day, arguing that the observance runs against Islamic teachings.

In Banda Aceh, the capital of the devout Muslim province of Aceh, thousands of high school students held rallies rejecting the celebration of Valentine's Day.

The city's mayor, Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, and Shariah officials joined Saturday's rallies.

Republic of Congo: Ex-army chief to run for president

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 05:15 AM

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — The former chief of staff of Republic of Congo's army has announced he will be running as a candidate in the March 20 presidential election.

Gen. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko, 69, made the announcement Saturday, saying he is taking the side of the people. He said the country needs a new political order and asked residents to join him to strengthen ethical values.

DiCaprio favored for best-actor prize at Britain's BAFTAs

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 05:14 AM

LONDON (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio could add to his accolades for grisly survival story "The Revenant" with a win at the British Academy Film Awards.

DiCaprio is bookies' favorite to take the best-actor trophy at Sunday's ceremony, considered a portent of success at Hollywood's Feb. 28 Academy Awards. The role has earned DiCaprio his sixth Oscar acting nomination.

He's up against Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston, Michael Fassbender and last year's winner Eddie Redmayne, nominated for "The Danish Girl."

Netanyahu: US Vice President Biden may visit Israel

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 05:07 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says staffers for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden are arriving in Israel ahead of Biden's possible visit to the country.

At a Cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu cited media reports that Biden was considering visiting Israel in the coming days. He said Biden's staff is landing in Israel Sunday, but dates for a visit have not been set.

5 British men killed in road accident near Stockholm

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 04:52 AM

HELSINKI (AP) — Swedish police say that the five people killed Saturday when their car plunged off the road into a canal in Sweden were British citizens.

Stockholm Police spokesman Martin Bergholm said Sunday the five victims were men aged between 20 and 35, but he declined to further identify them or give other details of the men, saying it was not a police matter.

Opposition activists say Turkey shelling Kurds in Syria

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 04:45 AM

BEIRUT (AP) — Opposition activists say Turkey has shelled positions held by the main Kurdish militia in northern Syria for a second day Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group says two fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces — a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters — have been killed and seven others wounded in the shelling.

There was no immediate confirmation by the group, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units known as the YPG.

Kerry in Albania to press reform

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 04:38 AM

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Albania to make a push for the Balkan nation to enact a major package of judicial and legislative reforms.

Kerry was making a brief stop in the capital of Tirana on Sunday to urge the government and opposition parties to support the package, which is now pending in parliament. U.S. officials traveling with Kerry said he would make the case that the reforms will be a significant step forward in Albania's bid to join the European Union.

Somalia's president: Many fight for al-Shabab for money

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 04:30 AM

MUNICH (AP) — Somalia's president says military forces have made inroads in their fight against al-Shabab militants but the key to defeating them lies in providing better opportunities for the country's youth.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Sunday told a gathering of top defense officials and diplomats that 70 percent of his country's population is under 35 and have grown up in the chaos of a lawless state after the government collapsed in 1991.

Haiti lawmakers elect Senate chief as provisional president

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 03:45 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A majority of Haitian lawmakers have chosen the troubled country's Senate chief to lead a caretaker government that will fill the void left by the recent departure of former President Michel Martelly.

Senate leader Jocelerme Privert was elected as provisional president early Sunday after a plodding 10-hour session by Haiti's bicameral legislature.

He was one of three candidates vying for the job as powerbroker of an interim government that's only supposed to last 120 days.

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