World briefs – August 23

President Barack Obama plans a major speech on Iraq after his return to Washington as the last U.S. combat troops prepare to leave Iraq.

Obama plans major speech on Iraq after vacation

EDGARTOWN, Mass. — President Barack Obama plans a major speech on Iraq after his return to Washington as the last U.S. combat troops prepare to leave Iraq.

That’s according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because details are being finalized.

The speech will come shortly after Obama returns to the White House on Aug. 29 from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

The U.S. will have 50,000 troops in Iraq when the combat mission officially ends Aug. 31.

The planned speech was first reported Sunday by The New York Times.


Wyclef Jean not abandoning Haiti presidential bid

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean said Sunday that he is not abandoning his presidential bid just yet and will try to get the courts to overturn a decision disqualifying him from the race.

Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Croix des Bouquets, Jean said his lawyers will file an appeal with the national electoral dispute office.

Jean said that he has a document “which shows everything is correct” and that he and his aides “feel that what is going on here has everything to do with Haitian politics.”

“They are trying to keep us out of the race,” he said, referring to Haiti’s political establishment.

Haiti’s elections board rejected Jean’s candidacy Friday night — presumably because it decided he had not met residency requirements, although the board did not cite a specific reason.


Plane with four aboard goes missing in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Searchers were looking Sunday for a small plane carrying four people, including three park rangers, that disappeared in southwest Alaska during bad weather.

The aerial search for the Dehavilland Beaver was focusing on rugged coastal terrain between Swikshak Lagoon in Katmai National Park and the floatplane’s destination in King Salmon, about 285 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The plane, which was carrying the pilot and park rangers, was reported missing after it did not arrive in King Salmon as expected Saturday.

Altogether, 17 people have been killed in Alaska plane crashes since June.


Australian PM negotiates in bid to stay in power

CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she started negotiating with independent lawmakers Sunday in a bid to cling to power because no major party won a majority of parliamentary seats in Australia’s general elections.

Gillard said she hoped to enlist support for her centre-left Labor Party and has held preliminary talks with three independents in the House of Representatives, an independent candidate whose seat is not yet assured and a lawmaker from the Greens party.

Both the centre-left Labor, which had ruled for the past three years, and the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition opposition have conceded that neither is likely to claim the 76 seats needed to form government in the 150-seat House of Representatives.


Van Gogh painting stolen from museum

CAIRO, Egypt — None of the alarms and only seven out of 43 surveillance cameras were working at a Cairo museum where a Vincent van Gogh painting was stolen, Egypt’s top prosecutor said Sunday.

Thieves made off with the canvas, known by the titles of Poppy Flowers and Vase with Flowers, on Saturday from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in the Egyptian capital.

Prosecutor general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud told Egypt’s state news agency Sunday that the thieves used a box cutter to remove the painting from its frame. He blamed the heist on the museum’s lax security measures, calling them “for the most part feeble and superficial.”

This is the second time this painting by the Dutch-born postimpressionist has been stolen from the Khalil museum.

Thieves first made off with the canvas in 1978, before authorities recovered it two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.

The 12-inch-by-12-inch (30-centimer-by-30-centimetre) canvas, believed to have been painted in 1887, resembles a flower scene by the French artist Adolphe Monticelli, whose work deeply affected van Gogh. The Monticelli painting also is part of the Khalil collection.


Tropical storm form in two oceans

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Danielle has formed in the Atlantic, but the system is still far from land.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Sunday that Danielle had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and the storm is expected to strengthen over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Frank developed in the Pacific off Mexico, and storm warnings have been issued for parts of the coast.

Forecasters said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It was about 140 miles (225 km) south-southeast of Puerto Angel, Mexico. It was moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).

Mexico has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast from Puerto Angel west to Punta Maldonado. Watches also were in effect for parts of the coast.


Ex-policeman holds bus passengers hostage

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine media outlets say that a dismissed policeman has taken hostage a bus loaded with passengers.

Radio DZBB and other outlets say the hostage-taker is demanding his reinstatement. The ABS-CBN television network says the bus was taken near a park in downtown Manila today.

It is not clear how many people are on board. Police are said to be negotiating with the man.

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