Wednesday, July 1
Cuba says more needs to be done
HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — Cuba's government is making it clear that there's still a ways to go, before its relationship with the United States can be normalized.
Even amid the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba will be opening embassies in each other's capitals, Cuba is demanding an end to the U.S. embargo, and the return of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. It also wants an end to American radio and TV broadcasts aimed at the island.
There's resistance in Congress to ending the embargo -- from Republicans and some Democrats who say President Barack Obama is rewarding a government that engages in serious human rights abuses.
Obama says the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington is another demonstration that the U.S. doesn't have to be imprisoned by the past.
More than 60 soldiers dead
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security officials say 64 soldiers have been killed fighting militants in the northern Sinai in the deadliest battle on the peninsula since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
The militants launched a massive, coordinated assault on army and police positions Wednesday, setting off hours of clashes.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, said 90 militants and four civilians were killed in the fighting.
The attack was claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group. Sinai-based militants have stepped up attacks on Egyptian security forces since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
No more talks until after vote
BRUSSELS (AP) — The head of the euro group says the 19 nations using the currency have decided to end talks on Greece's financial bailout until after Sunday's referendum in Greece.
Voters will be deciding whether to support economic measures being demanded by Greece's creditors in exchange for loans. And the Greek government is urging them to vote 'no.'
A Greek opposition leader says the referendum might not be legitimate -- noting that an international monitoring group says it won't meet the standards it sets for a fair vote.
In a televised national address, Greece prime minister today reaffirmed his support for a "no" vote in the referendum. He insisted that a "no" vote would not put Greece's place in the euro or in the European Union at risk.
European Central Bank
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank's governing council has decided to maintain emergency liquidity funding for Greek banks at the same levels as before, a banking official says.
The ECB has been keeping Greece's banks on life support while the country's left-wing government has negotiated for a bailout deal with creditors. Without the money, Greece could default and wind up leaving the euro.
The official said nothing else was decided Wednesday amid speculation that authorities would move to seize Greek bank deposits to ease the country's debt burden.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the bank's decisions.
He added that the governing council would convene again when deemed necessary.
US stocks gain as Greece appears to be willing to negotiate
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are closing higher as investors hope that a deal can be struck on Greece's debt issues.
Hopes were raised Wednesday after Greece's government appeared to soften its stance toward its creditors. However, European officials ruled out any deal before a Greek referendum this weekend.
In deal news, Chubb soared 26 percent after agreeing to be acquired by rival insurance company Ace for about $28 billion.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 138 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,757.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,077. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,013.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.42 percent.
After court ruling, Obama says more to do on health care
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Barack Obama says he wants to refocus on improving health care quality, expanding access and rooting out waste now that the Supreme Court has upheld a key element of his health care law.
Obama is touting the Affordable Care Act at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. He's speaking on the heels of last week's high court ruling on insurance subsidies in states that didn't set up their own health care exchange.
Obama says he's "feeling pretty good" about how his health care law is going. But he says there are still "huge areas of improvement."
The president says now that the law is settled, he hopes both parties will come together to make further improvements. He's calling on Republican-led states that refused to expand Medicaid to reverse course.
UNITED STATES-SYRIAN REBELS
Dempsey: No shortcuts in Syria rebel vetting
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer says the U.S. won't take shortcuts in screening Syrian rebel volunteers for a U.S. training program, which is off to an extremely slow start.
Upward of 6,000 Syrians have volunteered, but fewer than 100 passed muster.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference Wednesday that while the U.S. needs to develop a credible, moderate fighting partner on the ground to battle the Islamic State in Syria, the vetting must be done carefully to weed out extremists.
Dempsey suggested that more credible volunteers may come forward after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is over in mid-July. The training is being done in Jordan and Turkey.
The U.S. goal is to train and equip 5,400 rebels per year.
Chad forces arrest Boko Haram leader, hold 74 others
N'DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — Chad's chief prosecutor says that security forces have arrested one of the leaders of the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram.
Prosecutor Alhassim Khamis said in a statement Monday that Bahna Fanaye, whose alias is Mahamat Moustapha, was apprehended Sunday, along with two others. He said Fanaye coordinated the trafficking of weapons between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad for the radical Islamic network.
Khamis said forces seized various weapons, communication materials, documents and more than 50 SIM cards from Fanaye's home. He said a man described as the financier of the group was also arrested in another operation.
Khamis says that security forces have now detained 74 suspects.
Chad has been a major military ally with Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, which has publicly threatened the Chadian president with retaliation.
STONE MOUNTAIN-CONFEDERATE FLAGS
Stone Mountain Park official: Rebel flags must fly under law
ATLANTA (AP) — The head of a state authority that oversees Georgia's Stone Mountain Park says Confederate flags will continue flying at a memorial plaza there because state law prevents their removal.
Bill Stephens, chief executive officer of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, said Wednesday that the law would have to be changed for the flags to be removed.
Stephens said the park's Flag Terrace, where multiple versions of Confederate flags fly, was donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1964. He said it's considered a memorial and, as such, can't be removed or relocated under Georgia law.
Earlier, Stephens said the park's leaders were considering what to do about the flags.
The rebel banner has come under renewed criticism nationwide after a June 17 church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.
Man who shot police chokehold video arrested on drug charges
NEW YORK (AP) — A man who recorded video of a fatal police chokehold in New York City has been charged with drug possession.
Prosecutors say Ramsey Orta was arrested Wednesday after he sold an undercover officer $40 worth of the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA, also known as the party drug Molly.
Last July, Orta recorded a police officer restraining Eric Garner, who yelled "I can't breathe!" 11 times before passing out. The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide and found a chokehold contributed to it.
A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the white police officer in the black man's death, prompting street protests.
Orta's lawyer says Orta denies the charges and didn't commit the crime.
Orta also was arrested in August and was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. He pleaded not guilty. That case is pending.
Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant in Germany
BERLIN (AP) — Automaker Volkswagen says a robot has killed a contractor at one of its production plants in Germany.
A spokesman for VW says the man died Monday at the plant in Baunatal, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Frankfurt.
Heiko Hillwig said Wednesday the 22-year-old was part of a team that was setting up the robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate.
Hillwig said initial conclusions indicate that human error was to blame, rather than a problem with the robot.
German news agency dpa reported that prosecutors were considering whether to bring charges, and if so, against whom.