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This photo provided by the Iraqi government shows outgoing prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, surrounded by residents and security forces after his arrival in Amirli, some 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Al-Maliki praised residents for fending off attacks by Sunni militants who had besieged them for more than two months until security forces backed by Iran-allied Shiite militias and U.S. airstrikes broke the siege a day earlier. (AP Photo/Iraqi Government)

Iraqi PM on warpath after rare victory over militants

Monday, September 1, 2014

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s outgoing prime minster pledged Monday to turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shiite town. Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the northern community of Amirli, where he … 0

Ukrainian insurgents scale back demands

Monday, September 1, 2014

MOSCOW — Pro-Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy — a shift that reflects Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks. The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian … 0

Protests challenge Pakistan’s premier

Monday, September 1, 2014

ISLAMABAD — Ahead of a joint session of parliament, Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief held marathon meetings Monday over violent anti-government protests that could force the premier of this nuclear-armed country to resign. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif again vowed he would not step down under duress, even as protesters briefly took over … 0

State officials warn about increased deer, moose activity

Sunday, August 31, 2014

WEST BOYLSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is reminding drivers to be aware of increased deer and moose activity, especially during early morning and evening hours. Moose found in central and western Massachusetts breed in September and October. White-tailed deer breed from late October … 0

Whale sightings increase off New Jersey coast

Sunday, August 31, 2014

HACKENSACK, N.J. — While it hasn’t become Cape Cod just yet, the number of whale sightings around New Jersey has increased substantially this year, suggesting that the state’s coastal waters are now clean enough to sustain humpbacks, finbacks and other species during their feeding season. Since April, dozens … 0

4 family members plead guilty in $25 million IRS wages scam

Friday, August 29, 2014

LOWELL — Four members of a Lowell family have pleaded guilty to charges that they schemed to hide $25 million in wages from the Internal Revenue Service, federal prosecutors say. The family ran a temporary employment agency from 2004 to 2009, during which time they reported to the … 0

Bombing suspect wants trial delay to 2015

Friday, August 29, 2014

BOSTON — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked Friday to delay his trial until at least September 2015. “We recognize that the government and many members of the public, especially in the Boston area, may want the trial to begin quickly,” the lawyers said in … 0

US judge halts key part of Texas abortion law

Friday, August 29, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics in the state. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one … 0

Okla. transgender candidate misses history by 22 votes

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oklahoma’s 88th legislative district is a bright blue dot in a deep red state, a district that has sent liberal and openly gay lawmakers to the state Capitol. And last week, it came within 22 votes of electing the state’s first openly transgender candidate. Paula Sophia, 48 — … 0

Valley Views Local photographers aim their cameras outdoors

Friday, August 29, 2014

TUFTED TITMOUSE Route 9, Belchertown Photograph and text by Anne E. Ely of South Hadley “Peter, Peter, Peter” would have been what I would have heard from this tufted titmouse, should it have decided to sing while perched … 0

Obama tamps down prospect of Syria strikes

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama tamped down the prospect of imminent U.S. military action in Syria on Thursday, saying “we don’t have a strategy yet” for degrading the violent militant group seeking to establish a caliphate in the … 0

Attempt to call missing jet may alter search area

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CANBERRA, Australia — Shortly after the missing Malaysian airliner disappeared from radar, airline officials on the ground tried repeatedly to call the crew of the Boeing 777 using a satellite phone that might have left clues to the … 0

State to offer tax amnesty

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has announced a two-month amnesty program designed to encourage the payment of delinquent taxes by individuals and businesses. The amnesty program will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. It applies to unpaid taxes billed on or before July 1. … 0