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Iraq's top cleric increases pressure on al-Maliki

BAGHDAD (AP) — The most respected voice for Iraq's Shiite majority on Friday joined calls for the country's prime minister to form an inclusive government or step aside, a day after President Barack Obama challenged Nouri al-Maliki to create a leadership representative of all Iraqis.


Big Sioux River crests; I-29 reopens

A swollen river that threatened homes where Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota meet crested earlier and at a lower level than expected early Friday. Minnesota officials toured waterlogged areas of that state, saying the severity and breadth of flooding make a federal disaster request a near certainty.


Defiant IRS head, skeptical GOP interrogators

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defiant before skeptical Republicans, the head of the IRS refused to apologize Friday for lost emails that might shed light on the tax agency's targeting of tea party and other groups before the 2010 and 2012 elections.


Murder charge pending for 102-year-old woman

Nearly five years after a woman was charged with killing her 100-year-old roommate in a Massachusetts nursing home, a second-degree murder charge is still pending against her at the age of 102.


Iranian operatives now in Iraq

Iran has sent "small numbers" of agents to Iraq to help Baghdad's Shiite-led government, the U.S. said.


Diplomats report progress in Iranian nuclear talks

Iran and six world powers reported minor progress Friday on drafting the wording of a nuclear deal, but key sections of the document remained blank, reflecting significant differences on how much Iran needs to limit its nuclear program in exchange for full relief from sanctions.


80 percent of senior execs got bonuses, VA says

The VA says nearly 80 percent of its senior executives got performance bonuses last year, despite widespread treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals and clinics.


America, meet Josh Earnest

Nearing his first day at the White House, Obama's new press secretary is more honey, less vinegar.


Costa Rica advances with 1-0 win over Italy

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Costa Rica followed up its surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday, beating four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round and eliminate England in the process.


Pope's view on legalizing drugs: Just say no

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment as he lent his voice Friday to a debate that is raging from the United States to Uruguay.


Ukraine's leader orders 1-week govt cease-fire

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week against pro-Russia separatists in the country's east — the first step in a peace plan he hopes will end the conflict that has cost more than 350 lives.


AP PHOTOS: Glimpse at refugees, as UN count surges

Women and children seeking asylum from Eritrea sit along a sidewalk in Sanaa, Yemen. Syrian refugee children play soccer at a camp in Lebanon. Iraqis fleeing violence in the city of Mosul carry their belongings as they arrive at a refugee camp north of Baghdad.


Gov't moves to ban drones in 400 national parks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Park Service is taking steps to ban drones from 84 million acres of public lands and waterways, saying the unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety.


AP source: Settlement in Central Park jogger case

NEW YORK (AP) — All but closing the books on one of the most lurid crime cases in New York history, the city has agreed to a $40 million settlement with five men who were falsely convicted in the vicious 1989 rape and beating of a Central Park jogger, a city official said Friday.

Ukraine: 1-week cease-fire starts now

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko orders his forces to cease fire and halt military operations for seven days against pro-Russia separatists in the country's east — the first step in what he hopes is a concrete plan to end the conflict that has cost more than 350 lives.


U.S. House backs limits on Obama's authority

The Republican-led House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a $570 billion defense bill that halts any Guantanamo transfers for a year in the furor over the American-for-Taliban swap and pulls back government spying.


Report: Half of vets with PTSD got treatment

Only about half of the veterans diagnosed with PTSD last year after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan received the recommended therapy despite efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs to beef up its mental health staffing, the Institute of Medicine said in a report released Friday.


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