National News

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose portrait is being held aloft by his Shiite supporters, has emerged in recent weeks to address the crisis facing Iraq.

Iraq's Most Influential Man Gets Pulled Back Into Politics

The most influential man in Iraq has been speaking up again after a period of relative quiet. It's not Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, or the head of the ISIS militants who are taking over much of the west and north of the country. It's an aged cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who can be compared to something like a pope for the country's majority Shiite Muslims.

Employer Health Costs Are Expected To Rise In 2015

Increases in health costs will accelerate next year, but changes in how people buy care will help keep the hikes from reaching the speed seen several years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers says.

The prediction, based on interviews and modeling, splits the difference between hopes that costs will stay tame and fears that they're off to the races after having been slow since the 2008 financial crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin Asks Parliament To Revoke Power To Use Force In Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked his parliament to revoke his authorization to use force in Ukraine.

In a statement, the Kremlin said the move was intended to "to help normalize the situation and achieve reconciliation in the east of Ukraine and in connection with the tri-partite negotiations on the issue that have begun recently."

1 Editor Cleared, 1 Found Guilty In U.K. Phone-Hacking Trial

Mourners chant slogans against the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria after they buried 15 bodies in the village of Taza Khormato in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq on Monday.

In Iraq, More Than 1,000 Were Killed In June

The United Nations has some grim news on Iraq this morning: It says at least 1,075 people were killed in June as Sunni militants overtook some significant cities in the country.

Most of the deaths, the U.N. reports, were civilians. The AP adds:

Polls give Chris McDaniel the advantage going into Tuesday's runoff for Mississippi's GOP Senate nomination. His 2-year-old son helped rally supporters in Madison, Miss., on Thursday.

Will Mississippi's Black Democrats Save A Republican?

It's a rich irony that on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders risking life and limb in Mississippi to help African-Americans register to vote, black Democrats may decide which Republican wins Tuesday's runoff for the GOP Senate nomination.

Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive, leaves the Central Criminal Court in London on Tuesday, after being acquitted. Former <em>News of the World</em> editor Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking Tuesday.

U.K. Phone-Hacking Trial: Brooks Cleared, Coulson Found Guilty

Former News International leader Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all misconduct in a headline-grabbing trial revolving around tycoon Rupert Murdoch's British media empire. Andy Coulson, the former editor of News of the World, was found guilty of conspiracy to hack personal voicemails.

Secretary of State John Kerry, second from left, arrives at Irbil International Airport with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft, fourth from left, Tuesday. The president of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region declared Tuesday that "We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq."

Kerry Visits Kurds To Urge A United Iraq

Secretary of State John Kerry talked to Kurdish leaders in Irbil today, urging them to keep the autonomous region as part of Iraq. Kerry's visit came as the Sunni extremist group ISIS says it has cemented control of Iraq's largest oil refinery, and as sectarian divisions are threatening to pull Iraq apart.

Kerry is now on his way to Brussels, after assuring Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq that there would be "sustained and intense" support to Iraq to help it counter rapid advances by Sunni militants in recent weeks.

Cuban entrepreneur Barbara Fernandez Franco oversees two employees in the small living room of her home in Havana, the Cuban capital. Her boyfriend, Michel Perez Casanova (right), works in the tourism industry but also helps with her business.

Cuba's Budding Entrepreneurs Travel A Rocky Road Toward Success

When Americans think of business in Cuba, they think of government-owned enterprise. And the vast majority of Cubans do work for the state.

But in recent years, private business owners known as cuentapropistas have flourished on the island.

President Obama (aka the bear) walks to lunch at a Chipotle restaurant Monday.

A Bear On The Loose In Washington

There's a bear roaming the streets of Washington, D.C.

It's more metaphorical than ursine. That's how President Obama describes his recent efforts to break free of the cage that is the White House bubble. He's been venturing out on strolls — like real bears, often in search of food, but also searching for something more.

The bear was spotted Monday near the National Zoo, wearing sunglasses and walking on Calvert Street with four people who had been attending the White House Summit on Working Families.

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