Nation/World Briefs

Kerry to Iraq: Don’t allow Iranian overflights

BAGHDAD – Just days after the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confronted Baghdad for continuing to grant Iran access to its airspace and said Iraq’s behavior was raising questions about its reliability as a partner.

Speaking to reporters during a previously unannounced trip to Baghdad, Kerry said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had engaged in “a very spirited discussion” about the Iranian flights, which U.S. officials believe are ferrying weapons and fighters intended for the embattled Syrian government.

Kerry said the plane shipments – along with material being trucked across Iraqi territory from Iran to Syria – were helping President Bashar Assad’s regime cling to power by increasing their ability to strike at Syrian rebels and opposition figures demanding Assad’s ouster.

The overflights in Iraq have long been a source of contention between the U.S. and Iraq. Iraq and Iran claim the flights are carrying humanitarian goods, but American officials say they are confident that the planes are being used to arm the support the Assad regime. The administration is warning Iraq that unless action is taken, Iraq will be excluded from the international discussion about Syria’s political future.

1 winning Powerball ticket sold in N.J.

TRENTON, N.J. – When Teddy Jackson heard Sunday morning that the lone winning ticket for a $338.3 million Powerball drawing was sold in New Jersey, the Toms River resident combed through his 40 tickets and hoped for the best.

About 20 minutes later, after checking each ticket at least a couple times, Jackson realized he would have to go work today.

Details about where and when the winning ticket was purchased and other related information were not disclosed Sunday by New Jersey Lottery officials, who also would not say if anyone claiming to hold the ticket had contacted them as of Sunday afternoon.

Syrian leader quits, chief rejects new PM

BEIRUT – Syria’s Western-backed opposition plunged into disarray on Sunday as its president resigned and its military leader refused to recognize a prime minister recently elected to lead an interim rebel government.

The chaos inside the opposition Syrian National Coalition threatened to undermine its bid to unite the forces battling President Bashar Assad and better organize the fight to oust his regime. It also could hamper support from the U.S. and other powers, who have hoped the Coalition would emerge as the most credible body to channel aid to anti-Assad groups inside Syria and undermine the Islamic extremists who dominate the fight on key fronts of the nation’s civil war.

As the opposition’s political leadership stumbled, rebel fighters inside Syria pressed ahead Sunday with their offensive in a restive southern province that borders Jordan. Also, Israel’s military said its forces in the occupied Golan Heights responded to fire across the border by shooting at a target inside Syria.

In his surprise resignation Sunday, Coalition president Mouaz al-Khatib expressed frustration with the both the international community and the opposition body itself. Al-Khatib, a respected preacher who has led the Coalition since its creation late last year, said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that he was making good on a vow to quit if certain undefined “red lines” were crossed.

Cyprus turns to Brussels for last-ditch help

BRUSSELS – Cypriot politicians turned to the European Union on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to help their island nation forge a viable plan to secure an international bailout after failing for a week to find a solution to a crisis that could force their country into bankruptcy.

Politicians were under pressure to come up with a solution quickly. The European Central Bank has threatened to stop providing emergency funding to Cyprus’ banks after today if there is no agreement on a way to raise $7.5 billion needed to get a 10 billion euro rescue loan package from the International Monetary Fund and the other European countries that use the euro currency.

If Cyprus fails to secure a bailout, some of its banks could collapse within days, rapidly dragging down the government and possibly forcing the country of around 1 million out of the eurozone. Analysts say that could threaten the stability of the currency used by more than 300 million people in 17 EU nations..

Associated Press