Printed on: February 19, 2014

World news briefly

Iran at talks: No scrapping facilities

VIENNA (AP) -- Iran drew a red line on Tuesday on how far it would go at landmark nuclear talks, saying as the meeting opened that it would not buckle to pressure from the U.S. and five other world powers to scrap any of its nuclear facilities.

The statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi suggested tough talks ahead, constituting a rejection of a central demand by the six countries.

At the same time, neither side can afford to have the talks fail. Lack of agreement would leave Iran struggling under the weight of harsh economic sanctions and a threat of military strikes by Israel, which sees Iran's nuclear program as an unacceptable security threat primarily designed to develop weapons.

4 dead as protesters battle Thai police

BANGKOK (AP) -- Gunbattles broke out Tuesday as hundreds of riot police made their strongest attempt to clear anti-government protest sites around Thailand's capital, leaving at least four people dead and 64 others injured.

Multiple gunshots were heard near the prime minister's offices, where riot police wearing helmets and bulletproof vests had started to remove protesters and dismantle a makeshift stage. Witnesses said a grenade was thrown at the police and shots were then fired by both sides. The police withdrew after a series of clashes.

In another blow for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the state anti-corruption agency accused her on Tuesday of improperly handling an expensive rice subsidy scheme, putting her in jeopardy of being impeached.

Iraqi cleric rebukes government leaders

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Just days after announcing he was retiring from politics, a hard-line Shiite cleric who has traditionally played the role of kingmaker delivered a scathing rebuke of the Iraqi government and even politicians in his own movement Tuesday, suggesting he's not giving up his influence as national elections draw near.

Muqtada al-Sadr's statement came as the country is mired in a resurgence of violence with Sunni militants battling the Shiite-led government for control of volatile areas west of Baghdad and an uptick in deadly bombings mainly targeting security officials and Shiite areas. Several explosive-laden cars blew up Tuesday in Baghdad and cities to the south, killing at least 33 people and wounding dozens.

Zimbabwe officers arrest ex-U.S. rep.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, who lost his seat in Congress almost two decades ago after being convicted of statutory rape, has been arrested in Zimbabwe on suspicion of possessing pornography and an immigration offense.

Reynolds, 62, was arrested Monday by police detectives and immigration officials at a Harare hotel, according to the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald. He allegedly brought several Zimbabwean models and other women to his hotel room, where he took photographs and videos.

Libyan militias tell legislators to resign

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- Two Libyan militias called Tuesday for legislators to step down or be detained, an ultimatum that escalates a political standoff in the North African nation. The head of Parliament refused and called it an attempted coup.

Parliament's term expired Feb. 7, but lawmakers voted to extend it with plans to hold new elections in the spring. Since then, hundreds of protesters have held daily demonstrations demanding the legislative body be dissolved.

Rival militias, which wield the real power in Libya, have lined up behind competing political factions in what has become a power struggle between Western-backed Prime Minister Ali Zidan and Islamist factions in parliament that are trying to remove him. Tuesday's ultimatum raised fears the situation could devolve into armed confrontation.

Opposition leader in Venezuela is jailed

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Moments before his dramatic arrest, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez told a sea of white-shirted supporters that he doesn't fear years behind bars if that's what it takes to open eyes to the damage done to Venezuela by 15 years of socialist rule.

He then pushed his way through the crowd, waving a flower over his head, to a police line a few feet away and turned himself in to face charges blaming him for violence between opposition activists and pro-government forces last week. He was driven away in an armored vehicle, and a judge later ordered him held in jail before a court appearance today.

Lopez, 42, surrendered to authorities after a weeklong manhunt to face charges such as terrorism and murder stemming from the unrest that erupted after a big anti-government protest he led Feb. 12.