At UN, Obama welcomes signs of Iranian moderation
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed the new Iranian government’s pursuit of what he described as a "more moderate course," saying it should offer the basis for a breakthrough on Iran’s nuclear impasse with the U.S. and the United Nations.
"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said during an address to the U.N. General Assembly.
Obama said he was charging Secretary of State John Kerry with pursuing diplomatic progress on the nuclear issue with Iran, in coordination with five other world powers. Kerry will join representatives from those nations Thursday in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
It’s unclear whether Kerry and Zarif will meet one-on-one on the sidelines of that meeting. And Obama also offered no hints of whether he will meet Tuesday with new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. Even a brief handshake would be significant and would mark the first such encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders in 36 years.
Iran prepared to engage in nuclear negotiations under certain conditions
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his nation is prepared to immediately engage in stalled negotiations over its disputed nuclear program -- but only under certain conditions.
Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday that he is also open to talks with the United States "to manage differences." It was his first appearance on the world stage since he was elected in the summer.
Kenyan president: Terrorists defeated after 4 days of fighting in mall; 67 dead
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenya’s president proclaimed victory Tuesday over the terrorists who stormed a Nairobi mall, saying security forces had "ashamed and defeated our attackers" following a bloody four-day siege in which dozens of civilians were killed.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said the dead included 61 civilians whose bodies have been recovered so far and six security forces, while some 175 were injured, including 62 who remain hospitalized.
Three floors of the mall collapsed and several bodies were trapped in the rubble, said Kenyatta. His office later said a terrorist’s body was among those in the debris.
Five other extremists were killed by gunfire and another 11 other suspects had been arrested, he said; authorities had previously announced the arrest of seven at the airport and three elsewhere.
"These cowards will meet justice as well their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are," Kenyatta said, in a televised address to the nation.
The Islamic extremists of al-Shabab, who claimed responsibility for the shopping mall siege, have gone through a deadly power struggle within their ranks in which at least two leaders were assassinated in Somalia.
Because of that internal discord, analysts say the al-Qaida-linked group is now led by hard-liners who are dedicated to global jihad and are putting the region on notice that it could see other similarly spectacular assaults.
"It shows that al-Shabab is not an ethnic organization but an ideologically driven outfit and branch of al-Qaida in the Horn of Africa," said Abdirasjid Hashi, deputy director of the Heritage Initiative for Policy Studies, a think tank in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The attack on the Westgate mall also counters a narrative that al-Shabab has been on the wane since U.N.-backed African peacekeepers had pushed them out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu and major towns in the country since 2011.
"This attack allows the group to reinstate itself as a force to be reckoned with ... and offset reports that the group no longer is relevant," said Natznet Tesfay, head of the Africa country risk team for the IHS business intelligence group.
Tea party conservative Cruz vows to speak at length on Senate floor against Obamacare
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tea party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday vowed to speak in opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law until he’s "no longer able to stand," even though fellow Republicans privately urged him to back down from his filibuster for fear of a possible government shutdown in a week.
"This grand experiment is simply not working," the Texas freshman told a largely empty chamber of the president’s signature domestic issue. "It is time to make D.C. listen."
Egged on by conservative groups, the potential 2016 presidential candidate excoriated Republicans and Democrats in his criticism of the three-year-old health care law and Congress’ willingness to gut the law. Cruz supports the House-passed bill that would avert a government shutdown and defund Obamacare, as do many Republicans.
However, they lack the votes to stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from moving ahead on the measure, stripping the health care provision and sending the spending bill back to the House.
That didn’t stop Cruz’ quixotic filibuster. Standing on the Senate floor, with conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah nearby, Cruz talked about the American revolution, Washington critics and the impact of the health care law.
With attention focused on chemical weapons, mass starvation feared in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian opposition groups and international relief organizations are warning of the risk of mass starvation across the country, especially in the besieged Damascus suburbs where a gas attack killed hundreds last month.
With the world’s attention focused on the regime’s chemical weapons, activists said six people -- including an 18-month girl -- have died for lack of food in one of the stricken suburbs in recent weeks.
Save the Children said in an appeal Monday that more than 4 million Syrians, more than half of them children, do not have enough to eat. Food shortages have been compounded by an explosion in prices.
Thousands of people are believed trapped in suburbs east and west of the capital that have been held for months by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Regime troops are besieging the areas, and residents say food is increasingly had to find. Rebels say they are trying to break the blockade.
Quake kills 39 in Pakistan; shaking
may have created
a new island
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- Thousands of Pakistanis ran into the streets praying for their lives Tuesday as a powerful earthquake rocked a remote area in the southwest, killing at least 39 people and possibly creating a small island off the coast.
The Pakistani military said it was rushing troops and helicopters to Baluchistan province’s Awaran district, where the quake was centered, and the nearby area of Khuzdar. Local officials said they were sending doctors, food and 1,000 tents for people who had nowhere to sleep as strong aftershocks continued to shake the region.
Most of the victims were killed when their houses collapsed, according to the chief spokesman for the country’s National Disaster Management Authority, Mirza Kamran Zia, who gave the death toll.
He warned that the toll might rise and said the agency was still trying to get information from the stricken area.
"We all ran out for safety in the open field in front of our house. Many other neighbors were also there. Thank God no one was hurt in our area, but the walls of four or five houses collapsed," said Khair Mohammed Baluch, who lives in the town of Awaran, roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the epicenter.
In remarkable turn, 6 more people found OK after Colorado floods; 1 other presumed dead
DENVER (AP) -- The final six people who were unaccounted for after massive flooding in Colorado have been found safe and well, authorities said Tuesday, but new spills were reported in water-damaged oilfields.
Only one person remained missing and presumed dead. Eight deaths have been confirmed.
It was a remarkable outcome after a disaster that damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 homes, washed out hundreds of miles of roads and left many small mountain towns completely cut off.
In the early days of the flooding, more than 1,200 people were listed as unaccounted for, but the list shrank quickly as people checked in after they were evacuated.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said three new spills totaling at least 7,600 gallons had been discovered as flood waters recede. Regulators are now tracking 11 notable leaks totaling at least 34,500 barrels, mostly from storage tanks that toppled or otherwise failed.
Search on for Nevada teen accused of killing mom, brother; bodies remained undiscovered 3 days
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Police said Tuesday they were searching nationwide and at the Mexican border for a southern Nevada teenager accused of killing his mother and younger brother and living for at least a short time with their bloody bodies in the bathroom of their apartment.
Henderson police investigators think the killings happened Tuesday, but the bodies weren’t discovered until Friday -- the fourth time a relative and the mother’s boyfriend called to say they were worried about whether Elvira Canales-Gomez, Adrian Navarro-Canales and Cesar Navarro were OK.
Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul said officers "found no cause to break in" during the first three visits.
"On Friday, we had family members saying they tried several times to contact (Canales-Gomez) and couldn’t reach her," he said.
A Henderson police officer fetched a key from property managers and was hit as he entered the apartment by the pungent smell of decomposing bodies, the police report said.