Syrian activists warn humanitarian conditions in Homs growing more dire, regime keeps shelling
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian troops intensified shelling of rebel-held neighborhoods in Homs Sunday according to activists who said humanitarian conditions in the city are growing dire and pressed for evacuation of 1,000 endangered families and dozens of wounded who cannot get adequate medical care.
Homs has been under siege for more than a week, part of a major escalation of violence around the country that forced the 300-strong U.N. observer force in Syria to call off its patrols.
"The humanitarian situation in Homs is very difficult," said Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "It is very clear that the army wants to retake Homs."
The Observatory asked the U.N. on Saturday to intervene in Homs to evacuate hundreds of men, women and children whose lives are in danger. It also said dozens of wounded people in rebel-controlled areas of the central city cannot get medicine or doctors to treat them.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the chief of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, said Saturday that intensifying clashes over the past 10 days were "posing significant risks" to the unarmed observers who were spread out across the country, and hampering their efforts. The decision came after weeks of escalating attacks, including reports of several mass killings that left dozens
Romney refuses to say he’ll overturn order allowing some illegal immigrants to stay
BRUNSWICK, Ohio (AP) -- Mitt Romney in an interview aired Sunday repeatedly refused to say that he would overturn President Barack Obama’s new policy allowing some young illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. He claimed Obama’s decision was political, while senior White House adviser David Plouffe said the move wasn’t motivated by politics.
The Republican presidential candidate was asked three times in an interview on CBS’ "Face the Nation" whether he would overturn the executive order issued Friday if he’s elected in the fall. He refused to directly answer.
"It would be overtaken by events," Romney said when pressed for the second time by moderator Bob Schieffer during the interview taped Saturday while the former Massachusetts governor’s bus tour stopped in Pennsylvania.
He explained the order would become irrelevant "by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution, with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a president but on a permanent basis."
Romney’s Rust Belt tour swept through Ohio on Sunday. He attended a Father’s Day pancake breakfast with two of his sons and five of his 18 grandchildren. He told a rain-soaked crowd that the weather was a metaphor for the country and that "three and half years of dark clouds are about to part." At a second event in Newark, near Columbus, Romney told a cheering crowd that the president’s slogan had changed.
Conservatives win Greek election, vow
to keep Greece
in the eurozone
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Fears of an imminent Greek exit from Europe’s joint currency receded Sunday after the conservative New Democracy party came first in a critical election and pro-bailout parties won enough seats to form a joint government.
As central banks stood ready to intervene in case of financial turmoil, Greece held its second national election in six weeks after an inconclusive ballot on May 6.
With one party advocating ripping up Greece’s multibillion-euro bailout deal, the election was seen as a vote on whether Greece should stay in the 17-nation joint euro currency. A Greek exit would have had potentially catastrophic consequences for other ailing European nations, the United States and the entire global economy.
With 82.5 percent of the vote counted, official results showed New Democracy winning 30 percent and 130 of the 300 seats in Parliament. The radical anti-bailout Syriza party had 26.6 percent and 71 seats and the pro-bailout Socialist PASOK party came in third with 12.5 percent of the vote and 33 seats.
The anti-immigrant nationalist Golden Dawn party had 6.9 percent and 18 seats, while the Democratic left won 6.1 percent and 18 seats.
U.S. Park Service suspends search for 4 Japanese climbers killed in avalanche
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A shallow avalanche on Alaska’s Mount McKinley may not have killed four Japanese climbers, but the slide pushed them into a crevasse more than 100 feet deep, the National Park Service said Sunday.
Spokeswoman Kris Fister said Sunday that the search for the climbers was permanently suspended after a mountaineering ranger found the climbing rope in debris at the bottom of the crevasse.
"We believe this is their final resting place," Fister said.
Yoshiaki Kato, 64, Masako Suda, 50, Michiko Suzuki 56, and 63-year-old Tamao Suzuki, 63, are missing and presumed dead.
The avalanche early Wednesday morning also pushed Hitoshi Ogi, 69, into the crevasse. Ogi climbed 60 feet out of the crevasse and reached a base camp Thursday.
For one Egyptian voter, a despairing surrender as hope in revolution turns to resignation
CAIRO (AP) -- Mahmoud Abou Adhma’s despair over Egypt’s course the past 16 months has turned him from an avid revolutionary who camped out in Tahrir Square for most of the 18 days of protests demanding the fall of Hosni Mubarak to working for the presidential campaign of the deposed leader’s last prime minister and close friend.
The 56-year-old Cairo tailor’s misery over his own turnaround was visible -- his whole body shook with it as he chatted with a circle of young neighbors half his age. It’s not that he didn’t understand the "humiliation" Egyptians felt under Mubarak’s regime, he told them, he’d seen it firsthand. But they had to face facts, the revolution failed.
They spoke sitting outside a polling station in Cairo’s middle class district of Abdeen as Egyptians lined up this weekend to vote on a successor to Mubarak as president, choosing between former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.
Abou Adhma is emblematic of the confusion many Egyptians have gone through since February 2011 when the leader of three decades finally stepped down. Mubarak’s fall brought an ecstatic sense of accomplishment among millions who joined the mass protests and persevered through violent crackdowns by security forces and regime supporters. As the old regime fought back to retain its powers, that has given way to a wide range of emotions -- despair and disappointment among many, stubborn defiance among others.
The generals who took over from Mubarak oversaw a torturous and lopsided transition which they promised would lead to a democratically elected government and president. They proclaimed themselves the defenders of the revolution’s goal: a deep change from Mubarak’s corrupt police state. The protesters summed it up, "Bread, social justice and human dignity."
Socialists win strong majority in French parliamentary vote, pollsters say
PARIS (AP) -- French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party won a solid majority in parliamentary elections Sunday, polling agencies projected, fortifying Hollande in his push for governments to spend money -- not cut budgets -- to tackle Europe’s economic crisis.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives, who dominated the outgoing National Assembly, suffered a stinging loss, according to all estimations. Meanwhile, the far-right National Front party was on track to win a small but symbolically important presence in parliament for the first time in years.
"This new, solid and large majority will allow us now to pass laws for change, and gives us great responsibilities in France and in Europe," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on France-2 television as the results started coming in.
Elections in France and Greece on Sunday will weigh on Europe’s future and whether its debt troubles will hobble markets and economies across the globe. France is the second-biggest economy in the eurozone and, along with powerhouse Germany, contributes heavily to bailouts for weaker nations and often drives EU-wide policy.
France’s Socialists will have between 308 and 320 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly after Sunday’s second-round parliamentary elections, the TNS-Sofres Sopra Group, Ipsos and CSA agencies estimated. The pollsters’ projections were based on actual vote counts in select districts around the nation.
Radiohead drum technician killed in stage collapse ahead
of Toronto concert
TORONTO (AP) -- Investigators combed through the wreckage of a Toronto stage Sunday to determine what caused the structure to come crashing down ahead of a Radiohead concert, killing the band’s drum technician and injuring three other people.
The British band said it was devastated over the death of Scott Johnson, a U.K. citizen in his 30s who was trapped under the rubble and pronounced dead at the scene.
"We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew," the band said on its website. "We will miss him very much. Our thoughts and love are with Scott’s family and all those close to him."
Toronto Police spokesman Tony Vella said a 45-year-old man hospitalized with a head injury was improving and his life was not in danger. The other two were treated at the scene.
Officials from the Ontario Ministry of Labor searched through the wreckage for clues to the cause of the collapse Saturday in Downsview Park. They were also investigating whether safety regulations and standards were followed and if staff were properly trained.