9.22.14:  Hong Kong students on strike in democracy battle


HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands of university students are boycotting classes in Hong Kong today to protest Beijing’s decision to restrict election reforms.


China’s legislature insists that candidates for Hong Kong’s next leader be vetted by an elite committee similar to the body of mostly pro-Beijing elites that has until now selected the city’s leaders.


Today’s class boycott kicks off a week of protests.


9.19.14:  France begins airstrikes on IS in Iraq


PARIS (AP) — France has conducted its first airstrike in Iraq against the militant group Islamic State.


The French presidency says fighter jets struck a logistics depot controlled by the group in northeastern Iraq. It says other operations will follow in the coming days.


France is the first foreign country to publicly add military muscle to U.S. airstrikes against the militants.

9.19.14:  Scotland to remain part of United Kingdom


EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) —Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom.  55% voted against independence.


The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain’s political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots’ hopes of breaking free and building their own nation.


Britain’s leaders had argued successfully that Scots are better off staying part of the United Kingdom with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The decision to reject independence will ease the worries of some business leaders who had warned they would have to shift their headquarters away from Scotland to England if Scots voted to become independent.

9.18.14:  Group says 3 million Syrian children not in school


BEIRUT (AP) — An international aid group says that nearly three million Syrian children are not attending school due to the war raging in their country.


The report by the Britain-based Save the Children adds that hundreds of thousands of displaced children are struggling to enroll for school in their host countries and in Syria.


The report released today spotlights how Syria’s conflict, now entering its fourth year, is denying a decent education to a generation of children, with consequences that may last for generations.


Within Syria, the report estimated that 3,465 schools, or one-fifth of the country’s educational buildings, were either destroyed or damaged, or are being used for military purposes.


Syria’s civil war has killed at least 190,000 people, according to the U.N. Nearly three million Syrians have fled the country.

9.18.14:   Polls open in historic Scottish independence vote


EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — The fate of the United Kingdom is at stake today as voters in Scotland go to the polls to decide whether to become an independent country.


More than 2,600 polling places are open and turnout is expected to be high.


Polls suggest the result is too close to call.

9.17.14:  U.S. gets video warning


BEIRUT (AP) — The militant Islamic State group has released a video warning the United States that fighters await it in Iraq if President Barack Obama sends troops there, as he and his top general said may happen.


The 52-second video entitled “Flames of War” shows militants blowing up tanks, wounded U.S. soldiers and others about to killed. It then shows a clip of Obama saying that combat troops will not return to Iraq, ending with a text overlay that reads “fighting has just begun.”


The video’s timing, released Tuesday, suggests it was a response to Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that if the current Iraq strategy doesn’t prevail, he may recommend the use of ground troops.


9.16.14:  Syrians flee IS de facto capital


BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say thousands of residents in the Syrian northeastern city of Raqqa have fled to nearby villages in anticipation of possible U.S. airstrikes against militants in the group Islamic State.


Raqqa is the group’s de facto capital.


The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq, and last week President Barack Obama authorized strikes against the group in Syria as well.


— The U.N. commission investigating war crimes in Syria says President Bashar Assad’s government is committing the bulk of atrocities inside the war-torn country, exceeding the toll from the horrific massacres perpetrated by Islamic State fighters.


The head of the U.N. commission describes the Islamic State extremist group and anti-government armed groups capturing the world’s attention as “agents of death and destruction,” but emphasizes the government’s sieges and attacks in Syria’s civil war which has killed over 190,000 people and destabilized the region.

He tells the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that “the Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily” through shelling, air attacks, checkpoints and interrogation.

9.15.14:  Hurricane in Mexico & Typhoon hits the Philippines


CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Odile slammed into Mexico’s southern Baja California peninsula today as a Category 3 storm as residents and tourists hunkered down. The powerful and sprawling hurricane hit in an area of gleaming megaresorts, tiny fishing communities and low-lying neighborhoods of flimsy homes. Forecasters predicted a dangerous storm surge along with landslide and flash flood danger. Mexican authorities evacuated vulnerable coastal areas.


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A fast-moving typhoon is back out to sea after leaving flash floods and landslides in its wake in the Philippines. Schools in five regions, including metropolitan Manila, were suspended and dozens of flights were canceled. Hundreds of ship passengers were stranded in ports. Many evacuees have since been allowed home. The storm is moving toward southern China.

9.12.14:  Ukraine, rebels exchange prisoners in peace deal


DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine government and rebel forces exchanged something other than gunfire today.


Dozens of prisoners changed hands as part of a cease-fire agreement sealed earlier this month.


Thirty-six Ukrainian servicemen were released after negotiations and a further 21 soldiers were freed the day before.


Ukrainian forces handed over 31 pro-Russian rebels.

9.12.14:  Pistorius is guilty of culpable homicide


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African judge has declared Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murder and premeditated murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.


The double-amputee Olympic runner was convicted today of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, or negligent killing.


The sentence can range from a suspended sentence and a fine to up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing will come at a later date.



Prosecutors say they’ll decide whether to appeal after he’s sentenced.