- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ohioan due home after surprise release from North Korea; US still pressing for 2 others

CINCINNATI (AP) - News that an Ohio man had been freed from North Korea after being detained there for nearly six months triggered the same response in his wife and former co-workers: Delight.

Jeffrey Fowle’s wife cried out with joy, the family’s attorney said Tuesday. And a manager in the suburban Dayton city where Fowle formerly worked said they were “delighted to hear the news.”

The State Department announced Tuesday that the 56-year-old Miamisburg resident was released nearly a half-year after he was taken into custody after leaving a Bible at a nightclub. He had been awaiting trial.

Attorney Timothy Tepe said Fowle was able to later call his wife himself on his way home. He was expected to arrive in Ohio on Wednesday, his former employer said in a statement.

Two other Americans who have been convicted of crimes in North Korea are still being held.


Liberians exiled by Ebola crisis pray for end of outbreak, suffer humiliation and boredom

BUDUBURAM CAMP, Ghana (AP) - Henry Boley left Liberia to attend a conference in Nigeria just days after his twins were born. Now, weeks later, he can’t get home. Amanda Johnson, a 50-year-old Liberian living in Ghana, awaits her fiance’s departure from their home country for their wedding, but refuses to return home because of Ebola.

Hundreds of Liberians are stranded in Ghana, separated from their families because of poverty, fear and logistics. Some are waiting for flights to resume after most airlines cancelled flights to Liberia. Others are having trouble navigating or affording the circuitous route back by bus. Many others feel it’s too risky to return home, even if their spouses or children are desperately urging them to.

Boley and Johnson are neighbors in a camp for refugees just outside Accra, the Ghanaian capital, where they monitor the news for any signs that Ebola is slowing down in their home country. Their exile is likely to continue as the worst outbreak of the disease in history continues infecting more people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, with a total death toll of more than 4,500.

Ghana, which is still free of Ebola, has become the hub for an intensified international response to the crisis, with the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response based in Accra. Ghana is one of 14 West African counties seen as being at risk, and authorities have set up at least three Ebola isolation centers across the country in case there is an outbreak.

Boley, a 40-year-old Christian pastor, has been stranded for weeks. He is bored and often thinks of his babies, whom he barely knows.


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The move responds to pressure from some Congress members and the public to impose a travel ban on the three countries at the heart of the outbreak.


The Ebola outbreak in the West African nation has forced many of its citizens to live as refugees in neighboring Ghana until the threat from the disease abates.


US closes gap in Ebola screening of air travelers as states try to prepare hospitals, nurses

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government is closing a gap in Ebola screening at airports while states from New York to Texas to California work to get hospitals and nurses ready in case another patient turns up somewhere in the U.S. with the deadly disease.

Under the rule going into effect Wednesday, air travelers from the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must enter the United States through one of five airports doing special screenings and fever checks for Ebola. A handful of people had been arriving at other airports and missing the checks.

A total of 562 air travelers have been checked in the screenings that started Oct. 11 at New York’s Kennedy airport and expanded to four others last week, Homeland Security officials said. Four were taken from Washington’s Dulles airport to a local hospital. None had Ebola.

The other airports are Newark’s Liberty, Chicago’s O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

The tightened rules for West African travelers come as Rwanda - an Ebola-free country in East Africa - said it would begin checking visiting Americans for the disease because of the three cases that occurred in the U.S.


As Islamic State group pushes toward Baghdad, Iraqi tribes in Abu Ghraib buck takeover

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq (AP) - The Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, best known for its infamous prison, sits close enough to Baghdad’s airport that you can see the control tower in the distance. It’s an enticing potential prize for Islamic State militants.

For now, this Sunni-dominated town remains beyond their grip, despite recent reports to the contrary. Markets buzz with shoppers and young women in colorful clothes and headscarves walk freely through the streets.

That’s thanks in large part to the support of local Sunni tribal leaders who fought against extremists in the past are vowing to do so again. But to win the fight, they also need to combat long-held feelings of discrimination and what residents feel are arbitrary detentions and disappearances that continue to fuel resentment against the country’s Shiite majority.

New tanks and checkpoints have left Abu Ghraib more militarized in recent weeks. At some checkpoints, Associated Press journalists on a recent visit saw heavily-armed volunteers in black ski masks standing alongside the military, quizzing locals and checking vehicles.

A report by Amnesty International last week said Iraq’s Shiite militias have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians with tacit government support in retaliation for Islamic State group attacks. Tens of thousands of militiamen wear military uniforms but operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight, it found.


For former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, good journalism coincided with good timing

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a charmed life of newspapering, Ben Bradlee seemed always to be in just the right place.

The raspy-voiced, hard-charging editor who invigorated The Washington Post got an early break as a journalist thanks to his friendship with one president, John F. Kennedy, and became famous for his role in toppling another, Richard Nixon, in the Watergate scandal.

Bradlee died at home Tuesday of natural causes, the Post reported. He was 93.

Ever the newsman and ever one to challenge conventional wisdom, Bradlee imagined his own obituary years earlier and found something within it to quibble over.

“Bet me that when I die,” he wrote in his 1995 memoir, “there will be something in my obit about how The Washington Post ‘won’ 18 Pulitzer prizes while Bradlee was editor.” That, he said, would be bunk. The prizes are overrated and suspect, he wrote, and it’s largely reporters, not newspapers or their editors, who deserve the credit.


Bill and Hillary Clinton are playing a top surrogate role for Democrats in 2014

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.

With speculation rampant about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton makes a second presidential run, the power couple has blanketed the political map this fall, attending fundraisers and get-out-the-vote rallies for a long roster of Democratic candidates. In states like Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado, the Clintons are an asset at a time when many Democrats need a big name to help inspire supporters. The Clintons usually campaign for candidates on their own.

On the campaign trail, the former president, in particular, is in his element.

“I feel like an old racehorse in a stable and people just take me out and put me on the track and slap me on the rear to see if I can run around one more time,” the ex-president joked at a recent Democratic Party event in New Hampshire - a theme he has used before while campaigning this round.

Obama appeared at his first political rallies last weekend - in Democratic-friendly Maryland and his home state of Illinois - but the Clintons can go where the president might not be helpful.


AP-GfK Poll: 4 factors shaping the upcoming midterm election, and another that’s not

WASHINGTON (AP) - Someone has to win.

Most Americans say they dislike both the Republicans and the Democrats, but a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds more of them now say they would like the GOP to control Congress over the Democrats. That’s in part because, on major issues including the economy and protecting the country, Republicans have gained an edge as the more trusted party among likely voters. But one major issue making headlines recently does not appear to be making much difference in how Americans are viewing the election, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Five things to know from the AP-GfK poll: Four that are shaping the contest, and one that likely won’t.


Most Americans remain deeply concerned about the direction of the economy, and the GOP is in a position to take advantage of that concern. Sixty-one percent of Americans describe the economy as poor, while only 38 percent say that it is good. Nine in 10 likely voters call the economy an extremely or very important issue, topping all other issues tested in the poll by more than 10 percentage points.


NKorea tries on the charm to avoid being referred to Int’l Criminal Court for rights abuses

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - For an envoy of the North Korean government, which virtually bans the average citizen’s contact with the outside world, Kim Ju Song looks breezily connected. A tablet computer is propped on his table in the United Nations’ bustling delegates lounge. He hands out his name card with a Gmail address and mobile number and suggests a “coffee meeting to exchange views.”

The young adviser to North Korea’s foreign ministry is on an unusual mission that’s almost certainly doomed to fail: Persuading the world that his country’s dreadful human rights situation isn’t so bad after all.

Faced with the threat of a referral to the International Criminal Court, Pyongyang is trying on the charm.

Diplomats and observers describe the attempt at openness as both ridiculous and remarkable. The North Koreans, once known for simply picking up the phone at their mission and hanging it up again, now hold press conferences and private briefings where they invite, and even answer, questions. “Don’t hesitate to contact me,” one official told a room of startled diplomats last week.

Diplomats also say they detect what normally isn’t part of the North Koreans’ remote presence at the United Nations: fear.


Death of promising doctor who mysteriously turned jihadi shocks Israel

HURA, Israel (AP) - He was a quiet whiz kid at the top of his class in Israel, who overcame tough odds in this minority Arab village to become a star medical student and hospital intern.

Could Othman Abu al-Qiyan have been radicalized by Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians - or something else?

No one can quite explain what happened and why, but in his community in Israel’s southern Negev desert, where many even serve in the Israeli army, his sudden transformation into a jihadi killed in Syria fighting for the Islamic State group is treated as a dark and dangerous mystery.

In three years of war in Syria, dozens of educated and seemingly progressive Muslims from Western countries have been lured to what they perceive to be a heroic jihadi battle against President Bashar Assad.

In Israel, the phenomenon is still marginal. Israel’s Shin Bet security service estimates that only about 30 Arabs have departed for Syria to take part in the fighting. Just a handful have joined IS - the extremist group notorious for its beheadings of foreign journalists and aid workers.

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