Posted: May 18, 2014 4:00 AM
Updated: May 18, 2014 4:00 AM
Landslides leave hundreds homeless in Bosnia; 2 reported missing in Croatia floods
SARAJEVO, Bosnia (AP) Officials say landslides triggered by record-high floods have left hundreds of people homeless in Bosnia, while thousands more are fleeing their homes in Croatia and Serbia as Balkan countries battle the region's worst flooding in recorded history.
Throughout hilly Bosnia, floods caused by four days of heavy rainfall last week are triggering landslides covering roads, homes and whole villages. Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic, said Sunday that the country is facing catastrophe.
In the east of neighboring Croatia, two people are missing and hundreds have fled their homes as the Sava River breached flood barriers. In Serbia, more than 20,000 people have been forced from their homes. Officials there fear more flooding later Sunday as rivers swell at high tide.
At least 25 people have died in the Balkan floods.
Vietnam clamps down on anti-China protests after deadly riots; China sends evacuation ships
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) Vietnam smothered anti-China protests on Sunday with a massive security clampdown after deadly riots triggered by a territorial dispute with Beijing spooked foreign investors and the country's authoritarian leadership alike.
As patrol ships from both countries remained locked in a standoff close to a Chinese oil rig in a disputed patch of the South China Sea, Beijing said it had evacuated 3,000 nationals from Vietnam and was sending the first of five ships to pull out others wanting to leave.
China also said that it would suspend some of its bilateral exchange plans with Vietnam and that it was advising Chinese not to visit the country.
China's decision to deploy the massive oil rig on May 1 has been widely seen as it one of its most provocative steps in a campaign to assert its sovereignty in the waters. It triggered fury in Vietnam and the worst breakdown in ties between Hanoi and Beijing in years.
Tensions have been mounting between the two countries despite their sharing of a political ideology. Both nations are run by communist regimes that since the 1990s have embraced free market capitalism while retaining large state sectors and powerful internal security systems.
Pyongyang building collapse leaves considerable casualties; prompts rare North Korean apology
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Korean officials offered a rare public apology for the collapse of an apartment building under construction in Pyongyang, which a South Korean official said was believed to have caused considerable casualties that could mean hundreds might have died.
The word of the collapse in the secretive nation's capital was reported Sunday morning by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, which gave no death toll but said that the accident was "serious" and upset North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.
The report said it occurred in the capital's Phyongchon district on Tuesday "as the construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner."
In Seoul, a South Korean government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information said the 23-story apartment building that collapsed was presumed to have housed 92 families.
That could mean the casualties could be in the hundreds because a typical North Korean family has four members. However, it was not clear that all the residents were inside at the time of the collapse, or that four people lived in each apartment.
GOP's McConnell and Democrats' Grimes argue over who can bring change to Kentucky
FRANKLIN, Ky. (AP) In this small Kentucky town near the Tennessee border, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 2 to 1, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell had the same message: change.
For Grimes, it is changing Kentucky's senator, who she criticized for voting against raising the minimum wage and blocking measures that would ensure women are paid the same salaries as men for equal work.
For McConnell, it is changing the Senate to Republican control and putting him in charge of stopping a president's agenda that he says has devastated Kentucky's coal industry and upended the country's health care system.
"If you want to change America, the first step is to change the Senate," McConnell said Saturday in Franklin. "We're not happy with what's been going on the last six years and we want to begin to take our country back, and the place to start is right here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky."
McConnell and his allies are already running television ads comparing Grimes to President Barack Obama, whose disapproval rating in Kentucky is at or above 60 percent.
Ga. Republicans in Senate primary turn to taxes as a rallying point ahead of Tuesday's vote
ATLANTA (AP) Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue says his chief rivals in the GOP race for Georgia's open Senate seat are falsely accusing him of being the worst kind of Republican one who wants to raise taxes.
"Of all the deceitful and false accusations that have been coming my way, this is absolutely the most outrageous," Perdue said Saturday during the final debate before Tuesday's primary.
While Perdue offered a previous pledge not to increase taxes as evidence of his standing on the issue, Rep. Jack Kingston said it wasn't enough. Kingston and others have accused Perdue of supporting higher taxes after Perdue, who is leading in polls, said a few days ago that increasing revenue as well as cutting spending is needed to address the country's fiscal problems.
"You should say, 'I'm against taxes,'" said Kingston, who has been dominating in fundraising and has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "You can't have it both ways."
The Georgia race is among a dozen nationally that will help determine control of the Senate. Republicans need to gain just six seats to claim a majority and they cannot afford to lose the Georgia seat they now hold, which opened when Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced his retirement.
Obama shuffling Cabinet, with Donovan in line for budget job, Castro considered for housing
WASHINGTON (AP) Shuffling his second-term Cabinet, President Barack Obama plans to nominate Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to be budget director and is considering San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to succeed Donovan, according to people familiar with the selection process.
The moves would raise the profile of two men with close ties to the president.
Donovan is an original member of Obama's Cabinet and is well-liked within the White House, where officials have lauded his work overseeing the government's response to Hurricane Sandy.
As budget director, he would have significant influence over the administration's policy and spending priorities.
Castro's star has been on the rise since Obama picked him to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The 39-year-old Castro is considered a possible vice presidential pick in 2016.
CDC: Illinois man who twice met MERS patient in US apparently picked up infection, not sick
NEW YORK (AP) Health officials reported Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the United States.
The Illinois man probably picked up an infection from an Indiana man who earlier this month became the first U.S. case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The Illinois man, however, never needed medical treatment and is reported to be feeling well, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The two men met twice before the Indiana man fell ill and was hospitalized in Munster, Indiana, shortly after traveling from Saudi Arabia, where he lived and was employed as a health care worker. Health officials say they think the virus spread during a 40-minute business meeting that involved no more contact than a handshake.
"We don't think this changes the risk to the general public," which remains low, said Dr. David Swerdlow of the CDC.
The new report also is not considered evidence that the virus is spreading more easily among people than previously thought, he said. The virus is not considered to be highly contagious, and health officials believe it only spreads from person to person with close contact. Many of those who have gotten sick in the Middle East have been family members or health care workers caring for a MERS patient.
France's National Front seeks gains in EU vote, bigger stage for its anti-Muslim policies
PARIS (AP) For the National Front party, French towns should look French. That means no more new mosques or kebab shops.
The anti-immigration party is striving to be France's big winner in European Parliament elections next weekend and its leader has been ramping up the rhetoric, describing her appeal as patriotic rather than extremist.
"We want to be the masters in our countries," Marine Le Pen said. "The Austrians want to be the masters of Austria, the French want to be masters in France, the Belgians masters in Belgium, and this is perfectly legitimate."
The National Front, which also wants to unravel the European Union and withdraw France from the euro currency, hopes to win up to 20 of France's 74 European Parliament seats in the Sunday, May 25 vote. It currently holds just two seats, but polls show it running neck-and-neck with the conservative UMP party and well ahead of the governing Socialists.
The party's agenda is already being imposed in some French towns following the election this spring of 11 National Front mayors, including Julien Sanchez, who has taken charge in the debt-ridden southern town of Beaucaire. Once a prosperous trade route on the Rhone River, today Beaucaire's ancient stone center is in disrepair and its unemployment runs at 20 percent, double the national rate.
Crews who fought San Diego fires for days prepare for long season; evacuees return home
ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) The last of tens of thousands of evacuees returned home Saturday after firefighters scoured charred hillsides north of San Diego to guard against a resurgence of flames that ripped through the region this week.
For those battling a series of blazes for days, the relief was mixed with a sense of dread that drought-sapped vegetation, high temperatures and low humidity portend a long fire season ahead.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to more than 1,500 fires this year, compared with about 800 during an average year.
"Normally, I don't even put wildfire gear in my vehicle until the end of April. This year I never took it out," Kirk Kushen, battalion chief of the Kern County Fire Department, said at a base camp in Escondido. "We never really completed the 2013 fire season. It's been a continuation."
At least 10 fires spanning 39 square miles have chewed a destructive path through San Diego County since Tuesday, destroying 11 houses, an 18-unit apartment complex and two businesses. A badly burned body was found in a transient camp, and one firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.
California Chrome wins Preakness; Triple Crown try in Belmont up next
BALTIMORE (AP) It gets even harder from here on out for California Chrome.
He won easily in his home state of California, he dazzled in the Kentucky Derby and he dug deep to win the Preakness on Saturday.
Now comes the toughest test of all, the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
The chestnut colt with four white feet will attempt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, something that hasn't been done since Affirmed in 1978. Since then, 12 horses have won the first two legs and failed to complete the sweep in the 1 -mile Belmont; the last was I'll Have Another, who was scratched on the eve of the Belmont two years ago.
"You have to have a very good horse to win these three races," said Art Sherman, the winning 77-year-old trainer. "I'm hoping I've got one right now."