3.4.15:  Netanyahu says he gave ‘practical alternative’ to Iran deal


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his speech to the U.S. Congress offered a “practical alternative” to a possible Iranian nuclear deal and that lawmakers “better understand” why the deal is bad.

Netanyahu spoke upon landing in Israel today, after President Barack Obama said the Israeli leader had offered no viable alternative to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu says his alternative would extend the breakout time for Iran to create a bomb, and would maintain sanctions until Tehran stops “its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbors and its calls for Israel’s destruction.”

He says he received “very encouraging” responses from Democrats and Republicans, saying they “better understand why this deal is bad and what the right alternative to this deal is.”

3.3.15:   As Ebola wanes, other countries remain vulnerable


N’DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — A new report by the aid group Save the Children says 28 countries such as Somalia and Chad are not prepared to handle an Ebola outbreak.

Save the Children looked at 75 countries with the highest levels of child mortality in the world and then analyzed how much they spent on health and how many health care workers they have, among other factors.

It found that the 28 countries are worse off than Liberia, which has seen the most deaths from the Ebola epidemic that began in December 2013.


3.3.15:  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes center stage


(AP) — Top U.S. and Israeli officials are spending the day focusing on an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, but from opposite corners.

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Iran’s foreign minister in Switzerland, ahead of a March 31 deadline to seal a preliminary deal on limiting Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will appear before a joint Congress today and he’s expected to criticize that deal.

The Prime Minister plans to strongly lay out his case against any nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.  He insists he is privy to emerging details and is expected to lay out specific concerns.    He says that U.S. leaders may worry about the security of their country, but “Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.”


Some members of Congress plan to boycott the speech and disagree with the House Speaker’s decision to invite the Prime Minister without first consulting with President Obama.

2.27.15:  Group claims it killed US blogger in Bangladesh


DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A previously unknown militant group is claiming responsibility for a cleaver attack in Bangladesh last night that killed a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger and wounded his wife.

Avijit Roy and his wife were returning from a book fair in the capital Dhaka when they were attacked.

Roy was a prominent voice against religious intolerance.

The group Ansar Bangla 7 says on Twitter that Roy “was the target because of his crime against Islam.”

2.26.15:  Ukraine will start pulling back heavy weapons in the east


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s military says it will start pulling back its heavy weapons from the front line with Russian-backed separatists as required under a cease-fire agreement.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement Thursday that it reserved the right to revise its withdrawal plans in the event of an attack by rebel forces.

The international monitors overseeing the cease-fire in Ukraine complained earlier in the day that the warring sides were dragging their feet in complying with requirements to pull back their weapons.

Ukrainian officials said the first weapons to be pulled back Thursday would be 100-mm caliber field guns.


Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Russian gas giant Gazprom says the company could cut off supplies to neighboring Ukraine by the end of the week, barring further payments.

The company said in televised remarks today that “if no new funds are received from Kiev, then naturally we cannot continue delivering gas to Ukraine.”

Following a bruising dispute over prices and debt that raised fears of supply disruptions in Europe, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal in October requiring Kiev to pay in advance for gas shipments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Ukraine’s latest payment would be good for “another three to four days.”

2.25.15:  US church says missionary kidnapped from Nigerian compound


SEATTLE (AP) — An American missionary has been kidnapped in Nigeria, according to her sponsoring denomination.


The Free Methodist Church says on its website that it received a report Monday that the Rev. Phyllis Sortor was kidnapped from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo. The message from Bishop David Kendall says U.S. officials are working with Nigerian authorities to find and rescue her.


Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria and most victims are returned unharmed.


According to the church website, Sortor works with a child sponsorship ministry and recently opened a school for the children of Fulani herdsmen, who are Muslim.


The Rev. Brenda Young, lead pastor with Cornerstone Free Methodist Church in Akron, Ohio, says she’s been working with Sortor on projects to get clean drinking water to people in Nigeria. Young says she’s sure that Sortor “will handle herself as a follower of Christ, as a lover of people and as a loyal American.”


2-24-15  Assyrian Christians Reportedly Killed by ISIS


BEIRUT (AP) — Two activist groups say Islamic State militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrians after overrunning several villages in northeastern Syria.

The head of the activist group A Demand For Action that focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East, says Islamic State fighters are holding between 70 and 100 captive, most of them from a Christian Assyrian village.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number of Assyrian captives at 90.

2-20-15  Car Bomb in Libya Kills 30

CAIRO (AP) — A Libyan army spokesman says a massive car bombing has struck a town in the country’s east, killing at least 30 people, according to initial reports.

The spokesman, Mohammed Hegazi, told The Associated Press that a car bomb exploded next to a gas station in the eastern town of Qubba where motorists had lined to fill their tanks on Friday.

Hegazi says scores have also been wounded in the blast. He says the gas station is close to the towns’ security headquarters.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which Hegazi says bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants who have battled the army for months in and around the eastern city of Benghazi.

Libya has sunk into chaos, four years since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster and death.

2-20-15  Greece Trying Desperately to Get Out of Debt


BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece and its European creditors are converging on Brussels to try to bridge major differences over Athens’ request for a six-month loan extension to help pay off massive debts.

The meeting on Friday is the third among finance ministers from the 19-nation eurozone in just over a week.

It was called to respond to the left-wing government’s demand for more time to finalize its current bailout program and negotiate new arrangements with its partners that will be less onerous on Greek citizens.

Greece’s most influential creditor, Germany, claims the request is a “Trojan horse” to help the government dodge its commitments.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras swept to power last month on a pledge to ease the austerity measures championed by Germany and reorganize the 240 billion euro bailout debt.


2.19.15:  Study finds diets of people worldwide are worsening despite more healthy food


LONDON (AP) — A new study finds the world is increasingly hungry for junk food, despite there being more fruit, vegetables and healthy options available than ever before

In survey of eating habits in nearly 190 countries, researchers found that even though people are eating more healthy foods including whole grains and fish, there has been an even bigger jump in the amount of junk food eaten.

Among the findings, older adults ate better than younger adults and women ate healthier diets than men.

There was a mixed picture in the U.S., with increases both in the amount of healthy and unhealthy foods eaten.

One of the study authors says while Westerners are among the biggest eaters of junk food, China and India are catching up and that governments should step in.

Mongolia had some of the best nutritional improvements.

But researchers found in some countries in Africa and Asia, there has been no improvement in their diet during the past 20 years.

The study was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Medical Research Council and was published online in the journal, Lancet Global Health, as part of an obesity series.