The Latest: Israel woos Russian tourists after crises ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - The latest on the war in Syria, including a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey. All times local: 10 p.m. Israel's Tourism Ministry is investing an extra $2.6 million to attract Russian tourists after crises in Egypt and Turkey. Ministry spokeswoman Michal Gerstler says Israel has focused on Russia for a month "in an attempt to create an alternative." Russian tour agencies suspended sales of packages to Turkey after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian jet along the Syrian border on Tuesday. Some 4.5 million Russian tourists visit Turkey each year. Russia suspended passenger flights to Egypt after the Oct.
Some in military suspended for deadly Afghan hospital attack WASHINGTON (AP) - American soldiers and airmen who killed and wounded dozens of civilians in a strike on an Afghanistan hospital violated U.S. rules of engagement and have been suspended as they await disciplinary action that could include criminal charges, military officials said Wednesday. Briefing reporters on the results of two investigations, Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, described an egregious series of human and technical failures that led a U.S. warplane to destroy a medical charity's hospital in northern Afghanistan last month. Campbell and other officials would not say how many people had been removed from their jobs or whether anyone higher in the chain of command would be subject to discipline.
Amid Syria's civil war, a James Bond-style rescue operation BEIRUT (AP) - In the whirlwind of Syria's civil war, two Russian pilots parachuted from their aircraft into a chaotic front-line mountainous region near the border with Turkey after their aircraft was hit by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet. As the two figures tumbled, almost serenely, out of the sky, they were spotted by Syrian rebels on the ground, who opened fire in their direction, hitting the pilot, Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, who was dead when he landed in their midst. The co-pilot and navigator, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, was luckier, the wind blowing his parachute few miles closer to the front-line, nearer to government troops.
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Brussels schools reopen, manhunt ongoing for Paris suspects BRUSSELS (AP) - As police armed with automatic weapons stood guard, schools and some subway stations in the Belgian capital reopened Wednesday for the first time since emergency measures were imposed four days ago in the wake of the Paris attacks. Belgian and French authorities continued a manhunt for at least two suspects believed to be directly linked to the killings in Paris, while France's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly, by 515 votes in favor to four against, to continue airstrikes against Islamic State group targets in Syria beyond early January. Parliament's upper house, the Senate, was expected to vote on the measure later Wednesday.
Russia crackdown on Muslims fuels exodus to Islamic State Security forces keep devout Muslims under surveillance in places like Komsomolskoye, raiding their homes and hauling them in to provide DNA samples and fingerprints. Many in Dagestan, however, see the heavy-handed security presence as not only fueling an exodus to Syria of Islamic State recruits, but also serving to rid this part of predominantly Muslim southern Russia of potential militants by encouraging them to flee. The two decades of Russia?s war on Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus, mainly in Chechnya and Dagestan, have fostered a generation of cut-throat Islamist fighters and given rise to a culture of violence and police profiling that has pushed conservative religious groups to the margins of society and into the jaws of the IS.
Brussels schools reopen, maximum threat alert still in place When Brussels resident Annelaure Leger dropped off her two children at school on Wednesday, she said the task felt like nearly every other day - save perhaps for the machine gun-toting policeman and camera crews capturing the moment. After a four-day shutdown sparked by a threat alert across the Belgian capital, Leger was relieved that classes were back in session, even though she had to take her bike since the subway was still not running in her neighborhood. ?It was like Christmas come early for the children,? Leger said. ?They stayed at home and played with the neighbors? kids.? She said their family lives partly in Paris and that the children are very aware of what?s happening both there and in Belgium.
AP Interview: Coke exec on 'adversarial' ties with critics NEW YORK (AP) - Coke says it wants to mend relations with critics of its sugary drinks. Sandy Douglas, president of Coke North America, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Coke is hoping to change its "adversarial" relationship with public health advocates. The phone interview took place Nov. 17, after Coca-Cola Co. learned the AP had obtained emails between the company and leaders of the Global Energy Balance Network, which was founded to fight obesity. The group says on its website that it received an "unrestricted gift" from Coke and that the company has "no input" into its activities.
Pope urges Kenyans to work for peace NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Brushing aside security concerns, Pope Francis arrived in Kenya on Wednesday on his first-ever trip to Africa and urged Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness amid a wave of extremist violence on the continent that threatens to disrupt his trip. Francis was received upon arrival at Nairobi's airport by President Uhuru Kenyatta and a throng of traditional dancers and singers at the start of a six-day pilgrimage that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic, a country wracked by fighting between Christians and Muslims. Asked en route if he was concerned about his own safety, Francis responded with his typical wry humor: "I'm more worried about the mosquitoes." But he sounded a far more serious note in his speech to Kenyatta and the country's diplomatic corps at Nairobi's State House, urging all Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness to heal ethnic, religious and economic divisions.
From lashes to death: Artist caught in tangles of Saudi law DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - When Palestinian artist Ashraf Fayadh was tried last year on blasphemy-related charges, the Saudi judges overseeing the case rejected the prosecution's request for a death sentence for apostasy. Instead, he was sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison over a book of poetry he wrote and for allegedly having illicit relations with women. An appeal was filed and the case was sent back to the lower court, but this time around judges threw out defense witness testimony, refused to accept Fayadh's repentance and on Nov. 17 sentenced him to execution for apostasy.
The Latest: Charge against protester in Chicago dismissed CHICAGO (AP) - The latest on the aftermath of the shooting of a black teenager by a white Chicago police officer (all times local): 1:50 p.m. A Cook County judge has dismissed a charge against a protester accused of hitting a police officer in Chicago. Twenty-two-year-old Malcolm London was among five protesters arrested during demonstrations sparked by a video of a black teenager being fatally shot last year by a white police officer. London was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer. Police said he struck an officer during one protest Tuesday night in downtown Chicago. Judge Peggy Chiampas said during a hearing Wednesday afternoon that the state's attorney's office recommended the charge be dismissed and told London he was free to go.