Afghan government guard opens fire at Kabul hospital, kills 3 American doctors

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Afghan government security guard opened fire Thursday on a group of foreign doctors at a Kabul hospital, killing three American physicians and wounding a U.S. nurse, officials said.

The shooting at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul was the latest in a string of deadly attacks on foreign civilians in the Afghan capital.

Two of the dead Americans were a father and son, Health Minister Soraya Dalil said, adding that the third American was a Cure International doctor who had worked in Kabul for seven years.

Dalil said an American nurse was also wounded in the attack. Their colleagues at the hospital performed surgery on the shooter, who was wounded during the course of the attack, officials said.

The attacker served in the Afghan Public Protection Force and was assigned to guard the hospital, District Police Chief Hafiz Khan said. He said the man’s motive was not yet clear. The APPF is an armed security force under Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior that was created to protect foreign organizations that hire them.

Ukraine launches operation against insurgents in the east

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Russia announced new military exercises Thursday involving ground and air forces near its border with Ukraine, swiftly responding to a Ukrainian operation to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country’s tumultuous east.

The Ukrainian move, which killed at least two people, brought new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denounced it as a "punitive operation."

"If the Kiev government is using the army against its own people, this is clearly a grave crime," Putin said.

His statement and the announcement of new military maneuvers by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sharpened anxiety over the prospect of a Russian incursion into Ukraine. Russia’s foreign minister warned a day earlier that any attack on Russian citizens or interests in eastern Ukraine would bring a strong response.

The Russian exercises were quickly denounced by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who called them "dangerously destabilizing" and "very provocative." If such activities escalate, they will make it more difficult to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine, Hagel said, speaking in Mexico City.

Tiny Pacific nation sues world’s 9 nuclear-armed powers

NEW YORK (AP) -- The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands is taking on the United States and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed nations with an unprecedented lawsuit demanding that they meet their obligations toward disarmament and accusing them of "flagrant violations" of international law.

The island group that was used for dozens of U.S. nuclear tests after World War II filed suit Thursday against each of the nine countries in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. It also filed a federal lawsuit against the United States in San Francisco, naming President Barack Obama, the departments and secretaries of defense and energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Marshall Islands claims the nine countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating disarmament, and it estimates that they will spend $1 trillion on those arsenals over the next decade.

"I personally see it as kind of David and Goliath, except that there are no slingshots involved," David Krieger, president of the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, told The Associated Press. He is acting as a consultant in the case. There are hopes that other countries will join the legal effort, he said.

The countries targeted also include Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. The last four are not parties to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but the lawsuits argue they are bound by its provisions under "customary international law." The nonproliferation treaty, considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts, requires negotiations among countries in good faith on disarmament.

FDA takes light approach to regulating e-cigarettes as it waits for science to catch up

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government’s move to regulate e-cigarettes is a leap into the unknown.

Most everyone agrees a ban on selling them to kids would be a step forward. But health and public policy experts can’t say for certain whether the electronic devices are a good thing or a bad thing overall, whether they help smokers kick the habit or are a gateway to ordinary paper-and-tobacco cigarettes.

The proposed rules, issued Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration, tread fairly lightly. They would ban sales to anyone under 18, add warning labels and require FDA approval for new products.

Some public health experts say a measured approach is the right one. They think that the devices, which heat a nicotine solution to produce an odorless vapor without the smoke and tar of burning tobacco, can help smokers quit.

"This could be the single biggest opportunity that’s come along in a century to make the cigarette obsolete," said David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation.

Israel halts peace talks in response to reconciliation deal

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel broke off Mideast peace talks and brought the U.S.-brokered process to the brink of collapse Thursday, protesting a reconciliation agreement between the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the militant group Hamas, the Jewish state’s sworn enemy.

Israel’s Security Cabinet made the decision during a marathon emergency meeting convened to discuss the new Palestinian deal. The rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah announced the reconciliation plan Wednesday, meant to end a seven-year rift.

Israel objects to any participation in Palestinian politics by Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks over the past two decades.

In a statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, the government said it would not hold negotiations with a government "backed by Hamas."

"Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel," the statement said, referring to a name Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also known by.

U.S.government effort to seek release of U.S. soldier is disorganized

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Critics of the U.S.government’s nearly five-year effort to seek the release of the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan claim the work suffers from disorganization and poor communication among numerous federal agencies involved, leaving his captors unclear which U.S. officials have the authority to make a deal.

The shrinking U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan has refocused attention on efforts to bring home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.

About two dozen officials at the State and Defense departments, the military’s U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the CIA and FBI are working the case -- most of them doing it alongside their other duties, a defense official said.

Bergdahl’s captors are anxious to release him, according to a defense official and a military officer, who both spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

"Elements in all echelons -- from the top of the Taliban down to the folks holding Bergdahl -- are reaching out to make a deal," the defense official said.

Oregon officials: Power plant can’t accept waste for burning until abortion material removed

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- County commissioners gave final approval Thursday to an order to stop an incinerator in Oregon from receiving medical waste until procedures are in place to ensure no fetal tissue is burned to generate power.

While taking the action, Marion County commissioners Sam Brentano and Janet Carlson said they were horrified to learn that the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility in rural Brooks might be burning abortion waste to generate electricity. Both strongly oppose abortion rights.

"We’re going to get the bottom of it," Carlson said. "I want to know who knew, when they knew, how long they had known this was going on."

Brentano, however, noted that the county ordinance that sets the parameters for what can be accepted at the waste-to-energy plant allows for all human tissue.

"No rule or law has been broken, but there’s an ethical standard that’s been broken," he said.

2 detained on San Diego Navy base after firing of ‘airsoft’ gun that shoots plastic pellets

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The commander of Naval Base Point Loma says a report of an armed man on the San Diego base led to detention of a sailor who had fired a gun that shoots soft plastic pellets.

Capt. Scott Adams says a second serviceman was also taken into custody.

The Thursday morning report of a possible gunman led to an order that personnel shelter in place on the base, which is home to the Third Fleet command and other major units.

Adams says the shooter told investigators he was firing the pellets from a barracks, using a parking garage mirror as a target. Pellets were found outside the barracks and near the mirror. A base spokesman identified the gun as a so-called airsoft pistol.

The names of the detainees haven’t been released.

James Franco on bedroom selfies: ‘It’s not like I’m exposing myself’

NEW YORK (AP) -- James Franco says his recent Instagram postings of him in bed -- alone or not -- are his way of sharing a "very kind of intimate portrait" of himself and to get people talking.

"It’s not like I’m exposing myself or anything," he said in an interview Thursday.

Franco calls selfies and Instagram phenomena "that I am just playing around with like everybody else" to see what kind of reaction it evokes. He says when he takes pictures of himself, "It’s almost like it’s connected to you" and that by putting "that intimate space out there it’s kind of this new thing that we’re all getting used to."

He also says that it "obviously causes a lot of stir," noting that he was being asked about the photos by reporters.

The actor, author and director wrote in a New York Times essay last December titled "The Meanings Of The Selfie" that he has "become increasingly addicted to Instagram" and acknowledged that he has "been accused of posting too many of them."

NLRB will hear Northwestern University appeal of its ruling on football players status

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Labor Relations Board has granted Northwestern University’s request that it review its ruling that football players at the university are essentially employees of the school with full collective bargaining rights.

It said a previously scheduled vote by Northwestern football players on whether to unionize could go forward Friday but ballots would be impounded for now.

The Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on March 26 that Northwestern scholarship football players are essentially employees of the school -- and thus have the right to form a union and exercise full collective bargaining rights. Northwestern is appealing the potentially far-reaching decision, insisting that its scholarship athletes are students first and don’t have collective bargaining rights.

The full five-member federal board is now weighing the appeal request.