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Updated: Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:15:17 EST


Hagel orders US aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier is being moved from the northern Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the order to move the USS George H.W. Bush will give the president added flexibility if military action is required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.

Accompanying the carrier are the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. The ships are expected to complete the trip shortly.

The ships carry Tomahawk missiles, which could reach Iraq. The Bush is carrying fighter jets that could also easily get to Iraq, where a fast-moving Islamic insurgency is gaining territory.


Thousands of Iraqi Shiites answer cleric's call to arms, mobilize to fight Sunni militants

BAGHDAD (AP) — Thousands of Shiite men from Baghdad and across southern Iraq are answering an urgent call to arms.

They're joining security forces to fight Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, who have captured large areas of territory north of the capital and now threaten Samarra and other cities with revered religious shrines.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling for the unity of all Iraqis and is denying that the call to arms is directed against Sunnis. He says it's meant to protect the country and its holy shrines.

Iraqi army troops are going house-to-house in Baghdad. They're searching for militants and weapons in neighborhoods close to government installations.

Meanwhile, the militants gained more territory on Saturday. A local official in Diyala province says they have seized a small town about 60 miles north of Baghdad after Iraqi security forces pulled out.


Officials: Airstrikes kill about 100 militants in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani intelligence officials say military jets pounded militant hideouts in the northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan early Sunday morning, killing as many as 100 militants in the second strike on the region since a deadly attack on the Karachi airport a week ago.

The officials say eight militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area were targeted and many of the dead are believed to be Uzbeks and other foreign fighters.

One of those killed was Abu Abdul Rehman al-Maani, who is believed to have helped orchestrate the airport siege carried out last Sunday. Uzbek fighters and the Pakistani Taliban both claimed responsibility for the airport attack.

The airstrikes are the second time this week the military has hit the tribal regions in what appears to be a strong response to last Sunday's five-hour siege at the country's busiest airport that left 36 people dead, including 10 assailants.

On Tuesday, Pakistani military airstrikes targeted the Tirah Valley in the country's northwest. The military says it killed 25 suspected militants in strikes on nine hideouts.

None of the information could be independently verified.


Afghans say turnout high in presidential runoff

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Officials in Afghanistan are estimating the turnout in a presidential runoff was about 60 percent.

The Independent Election Commission says more than 7 million Afghans voted.

Official preliminary results are expected to be announced July 2.

The country's interior minister says nearly 50 people were killed in attacks nationwide, including 20 civilians, 15 army soldiers and 11 policemen, but the overall voting was largely peaceful.

The runoff is between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank official and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (ahsh-RAHF' gah-NEE' ah-mahd-ZEYE'). Both candidates promise to improve ties with the West, sign a long-delayed security pact with the United States, and fight for peace and against corruption.

The White House says the second round of presidential voting marks a major step forward on Afghanistan's "democratic path."


Pro-Russia rebels shoot down Ukraine military plane, killing all 49 aboard

NOVOHANNIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president is declaring Sunday a day of national mourning and vowing to punish those responsible after pro-Russia separatists shot down a military transport plane in the country's east, killing all 49 crew and troops aboard.

The incident is the deadliest for the Ukrainian military in the four-month-old conflict. It comes just a week after President Petro Poroshenko spoke about a peace plan in his inaugural address. He's called an emergency meeting of Ukraine's national security council.

Ukraine's prosecutor general says the plane went down Saturday morning as it approached the airport in Luhansk, near the border with Russia.

The downing of the plane is drawing condemnation and concern from the White House, European leaders and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. Analysts say it could bring a renewed emphasis on increasing sanctions against Russia.

Washington is reiterating its support for Ukraine's government and rejecting Russia's statements that it's not arming the rebels.


Obama order forces Phila. rail workers back on job

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama is forcing workers in Philadelphia's commuter rail strike to return to the job.

Obama granted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's request to create a presidential emergency board to mediate the dispute between the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and its engineers and electricians unions.

Obama called for "a swift and smooth resolution" of the dispute. More than 400 workers went on strike at midnight.

Workers will have to return to the job when the board is established at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Obama's order doesn't force the two sides to resume direct talks with each other. But they must participate with the board's process, which typically involves written submissions and hearings.

After 30 days, the board must recommend to Obama how the dispute should be resolved.


Obama says climate change deniers ignoring science

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama says denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese.

Obama issued a call to action on global warming in a commencement address Saturday to graduates of the University of California, Irvine.

Obama says in remarks prepared for delivery that Congress "is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence" and say climate change is a hoax or fad.

He says others duck the question because they fear being "run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot."

Obama recently announced a contentious plan to cut power plant pollution.

Obama also used his address to announce a $1 billion fund for communities to rebuild and prepare for the impact of extreme weather.


Cases of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus appearing in US

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A virus that has sickened tens-of-thousands of people in the Caribbean is starting to trickle into the United States. The virus -- chikungunya (chihk-uhn-GUHN-yah) -- is spread by mosquitoes, and is notable for causing severe joint pain.

Rhode Island health officials report two confirmed cases in their state. They involve people who had traveled to the Dominican Republic, and then returned home last month. And, in Tennessee, another patient tested positive for the virus, after visiting the Caribbean. More cases are suspected, but not yet confirmed.

The chikungunya virus causes high fevers and joint pain, but it's rarely fatal. There is no vaccine and the main treatment is pain medication.


2 officers hurt in shootout near Calif. Campground

NEVADA CITY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a federal ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer have been injured in a shooting near a Northern California campground.

CHP Officer Greg Tassone says the shooting broke out Saturday afternoon in a rugged, remote area north of Nevada City.

He says a CHP officer was responding to a call for assistance from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger when they encountered a gunman. A shootout ensued, and the ranger and the suspect were both struck by gunfire.

Both were flown to a suburban Sacramento hospital for treatment. BLM spokeswoman Dana Wilson says she doesn't know the extent of the ranger's injuries.

The CHP officer suffered minor injuries. Tassone says he didn't know whether he was wounded by gunfire or from something else.


California teen with leukemia gets World Cup wish

SALINAS, Calif. (AP) — A California teenager with leukemia is one of nearly 40 young Americans who will attend World Cup soccer matches in Brazil thanks to a foundation that works to fulfill the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

The Monterey County Herald reports that Ruben Rubio-Reyes of Salinas spent his 19th birthday on Saturday traveling to Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba. The Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area has arranged for him and his father to watch Iran face Nigeria on Monday and attend the Honduras vs. Ecuador matchup Friday.

Rubio-Reyes was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 15 and on his school soccer team. He had to give up sports while undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments.

The newspaper reports he's in remission but has five more months of weekly chemotherapy.

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