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Bombings kill 31 as Iraq grapples with political crisis
BAGHDAD (AP) - Two car bombs in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on Sunday killed 31 people and wounded dozens, the latest in a series of large attacks claimed by the Islamic State group as the country grapples with a worsening political crisis. The attacks came the day after thousands of anti-government protesters poured into Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone and stormed parliament, the culmination of months of protests by followers of an influential Shiite cleric demanding wide-ranging political reforms. A police officer said two parked cars filled with explosives were detonated within minutes of each other around midday in Samawah, the first near government offices and the second at an open-air bus station less than a kilometer (mile) away.


Watchdog looks to counter new chemical weapons threats
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - With about 92 percent of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles destroyed, the watchdog agency overseeing the elimination of poison gas and nerve agents is looking now to counter emerging threats from extremist groups while still dealing with unfinished business in Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is marking the April 29, 1997, entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CWC/CWC-en.pdf with a three-day conference starting Monday focusing on chemical safety and security. It appears, in the future, extremists and criminals seem more likely than nations to launch chemical attacks. "We want to capture the current security threats in regard to chemical weapons, especially from non-state actors," OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu told The Associated Press at the organization's headquarters in The Hague.


James Bond meets Samuel Colt: Seeking to build a safer gun
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Jonathan Mossberg is among a small number of pioneers looking to build a safer gun. But unlike many others, he was in the gun business when he started down that path. His family is renowned for its premier line of shotguns treasured by law enforcement, hunters and the military. Mossberg already has spent more than a decade working to develop - and someday bring to the market - a firearm that the wrong person cannot fire. It is intended to work without fail in the hands of its owner in a life-or-death situation. "We're gun people, so we know when you pick up a gun you want to shoot it," Mossberg said.


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From new to old, some of the gun safety features over time
Daytona Beach, Florida-based iGun Technology Corp. has been developing a "smart gun," a firearm that uses a ring with a chip in it to send a signal to a circuit board embedded in the firearm so that only an authorized user can fire the gun. But this isn't the only technology that exists or is being developed. A look at other efforts to build a "smart gun" and earlier efforts at making firearms safer: RFID or RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION Armatix GmbH of Unterfoehring, Germany, has developed a handgun that uses a watch that sends signals to the handgun. The iP1 is a .22-caliber pistol that carries a 10-round magazine.


US once again forced to turn to Russia for help on Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) - Scrambling to resuscitate a nearly dead truce in Syria, the Obama administration has again been forced to turn to Russia for help, with little hope for the desired U.S. outcome. At stake are thousands of lives and the fate of a feeble peace process essential to the fight against the Islamic State group, and Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed once more to his Russian counterpart for assistance in containing and reducing the violence, particularly around city of Aleppo. Kerry spoke at length on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to that end, and had been hoping to meet with Lavrov soon, according to U.S.


Elephants to perform for final time at Ringling Bros. circus
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Elephants will perform for the last time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday, as the show closes its own chapter on a controversial practice that has entertained audiences since circuses began in America two centuries ago. Six Asian elephants will deliver their final performances in Providence, Rhode Island, and five will perform in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, during several shows on Sunday. The last Providence show will stream live on Facebook and at Ringling.com at 7:45 p.m. Alana Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said the animals will live at its 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.


CA convention is a homecoming of sorts for Carly Fiorina
BURLINGAME, Calif. (AP) - When Carly Fiorina spoke at the California Republican Party convention at a hotel outside San Francisco airport, it was a brief homecoming of sorts for the newly minted vice presidential candidate. Fiorina grew up in the Bay Area and became chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard there before plunging into politics with an unsuccessful run against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010. But this is no usual Republican presidential primary, and Fiorina's appearance won't quite be the return of a favorite daughter. She's running on a ticket with Sen. Ted Cruz, who's mathematically eliminated from becoming the GOP presidential nominee unless the Republican National Convention is contested.


CSX train derails in Washington, DC; possible hazardous leak
WASHINGTON (AP) - A CSX freight train derailed near a Metro stop in Washington, D.C., on Sunday morning, sending about 10 cars off the tracks and spilling hazardous material from one of them, emergency officials and the railroad company said. No injuries were immediately reported and no evacuations were ordered. The train derailed Sunday about 6:40 a.m. near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station and one of the derailed cars is leaking sodium hydroxide, which is used to produce various household products including soap and detergents, CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said. Sodium hydroxide is a highly corrosive chemical that can irritate and burn the skin and eyes.


North Korea party congress to show unity around Kim Jong Un
TOKYO (AP) - North Korea is preparing to hold a once-in-a-generation congress of its ruling party that is intended to rally the nation behind leader Kim Jong Un and could provide an important glimpse into Kim's plans for the country's economy and military. The congress, set to begin on Friday, is the first in 36 years and follows a 70-day "loyalty drive" in which everyone from coal miners to restaurant workers were called upon to put in extra hours to increase productivity as a show of their devotion to Kim and the Workers' Party of Korea, which he leads. The congress comes as North Korea is facing international pressure over a nuclear test in January and a series of rocket and missile launches that have led many outside experts to believe Pyongyang is much closer to having a viable nuclear deterrent than previously thought.


Malia Obama to take gap year before entering Harvard in 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's daughter Malia will take a year off after graduating high school in June before attending Harvard University in 2017. "The president and Mrs. Obama announced today that their daughter Malia will attend Harvard University in the fall of 2017 as a member of the Class of 2021," said a short statement issued Sunday by first lady Michelle Obama's office. "Malia will take a gap year before beginning school." Harvard College, where Malia would enroll, encourages admitted students to defer for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way.