World News

The United States and five of its allies have reached a historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

As we've reported, the deal puts tough restrictions on Iran's nuclear ambitions and also sets up an inspections regime that makes sure Iran is meeting its obligations. In exchange, the U.S. and its European partners have agreed to drop tough sanctions on Iran, allowing them to sell more oil and rejoin international financial systems.

In a claim that's meeting with skepticism in Kiev, Russian-backed separatists say they've started to withdraw heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine, as required by a recent cease-fire. Ukraine's military says separatist attacks are ongoing.

The development comes after Russia's President Vladimir Putin said he thinks a war with Ukraine would be "apocalyptic" — but that the area is now on a path to stability, after the recent Minsk agreement.

A year ago, clashes killed scores of anti-government protesters in Ukraine and the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country.

Over the weekend, thousands of people turned out in Kiev's central square, known as the Maidan, to mark the anniversary.

A member of Canada's House of Commons has earned laughs and toasts from his colleagues, after he blamed his absence during a vote on tight underwear that makes him uncomfortable.

MP Pat Martin of Winnipeg Centre gave the explanation to foil an attempt to have his vote thrown out because, contrary to parliamentary rules, he had left his seat during the voting process.

Trying to salvage a cease-fire that has not stopped the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia held a conference call Thursday in which they called for full implementation of the truce's terms.

Ukraine says that in the past 24 hours alone, 14 of its soldiers have died and 172 were injured.

Iran is a country where people at rallies routinely chant "Death to Israel." It's also home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel and Turkey.

Iran's Jewish population topped 100,000 in the years before the Shah of Iran was toppled in 1979 by the country's Shiite Muslim clerics. Today, the number of Jews has dipped to below 9,000.

The United States and Cuba will hold a second round of talks aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations in Washington, next week.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki made the announcement during her daily press conference on Tuesday.

Reuters reports:

"The sides held historic negotiations in Havana last month and the next round is seen by U.S. officials as critical to fleshing out details on re-establishing ties.

At the anniversary of Iran's revolution, Iranians still chanted "Death to America." Yet many we encountered in a brief visit to the country seemed prepared to shift relations with the West.

We interviewed more than 20 people in three cities: Tehran, Isfahan and Kashan. Our talks were very far from a scientific sample. They took place in a country where citizens must speak with great care.

In what could be the end of a headline-grabbing trial, a prosecutor in France has asked that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, be acquitted of charges that he procured prostitutes for orgies.

The move comes after several prostitutes dropped their allegations against Strauss-Kahn, who had been charged with "aggravated pimping."

An American woman taken hostage by the self-declared Islamic State has died after Jordanian warplanes attacked the building where she was being held in Syria, the extremist group says.

The claim was announced on Twitter and reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activity. NPR is working to determine the facts of the story.

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET: Hostage's Name Confirmed By Family

SAM YEH AFP/Getty Images

Within seconds of takeoff, the TransAsia plane that went down in a dramatic and deadly crash in Taipei Wednesday was already in trouble. Investigators say the turboprop plane's right engine lost thrust 37 seconds into the flight, and that the left one failed to restart not long afterwards.

Alexis Tsipras, who led his left-wing Syriza party to a momentous win in Greece's parliamentary election, was sworn in today amid fears about what his win means for the country's bailout agreements with the European Union.

Reporter Joanna Kakissis in Athens, who is following the story, tells our Newscast unit that Tsipras now leads the first anti-austerity government in Europe. She adds:

Ukraine's president says his forces will retake the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk from the control of Russian-backed separatists amid reports of a major push to do just that.

Petro Poroshenko, speaking to a crowd of several thousand gathered Sunday in central Kiev for a state-sponsored peace march, said that he would not "give up an inch" of Ukrainian territory to separatists, according to The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Ukrainian forces launched a "mass operation" overnight that had succeeded in retaking most of the airport.

At least 6 million people in the predominately Catholic Philippines thronged a rain-drenched Rizal park in the capital, Manila, to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he presented Sunday Mass at the end of a four-day visit to the islands nation.

Rescue crews scouring the waters off Indonesia say they have found dozens of bodies and have spotted wreckage that belongs to AirAsia QZ8501, the jetliner that went missing Sunday, carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. quotes an Indonesian navy spokesman:

Update at 7:50 pm. Death Toll Rises To 10:

The death toll has climbed to 10, but dozens of passengers are still missing from a Greek ferry that caught fire. Authorities have been unable to determine exactly how many people were on board.

Sierra Leone, the country hardest-hit by an ongoing Ebola outbreak, has imposed a lockdown in the country's north in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The BBC quotes local officials as saying that shops, markets and non-Ebola related travel would be shut down. Many public Christmas celebrations had already been banned, according to Reuters.

I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I had when I saw the news of the U.S. change in policy toward Cuba. I found myself in tears. As a journalist, I could process it on an intellectual level and I understand the foreign policy implications. But as a naturalized American citizen of Jamaican and Caribbean heritage, I wanted to jump for joy and shout "Hallelujah!" that finally, Cuba was no longer a pariah and there was nothing to fear. This is something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.

Police in Hong Kong fired pepper spray and arrested scores of protesters overnight Tuesday into Wednesday as they cleared part of a pro-democracy protest camp, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

The Associated Press put the total number arrested at more than 116, including Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, highly visible student-leaders of the protesters.

Ebola is threatening to reverse years of educational progress in West Africa. The virus has kept school closed for months in a part of the world where literacy rates are low and school systems are only now recovering from years of civil war.

In Liberia, many children have been put to work while schools are closed, and Ebola is hurting the economy, says Laurent Duvillier, a communication specialist at UNICEF. The fear now, he says, is that many of these children will never return to school.

The new secretary general of NATO and Pakistan's Army chief were in Kabul on Thursday to meet with newly-sworn-in President Ashraf Ghani.

As NPR's Sean Carberry reports the visits mark a continued honeymoon between the international community and Afghanistan's new government. Sean sent this report to our Newscast unit:

"Neither visit resulted in any new policies or initiatives. Rather, they appeared to be about marking a new chapter in Afghanistan's relations with NATO and Pakistan.

For the first time, a small group of Syrian rebels have been permitted to transit Turkish territory en route to the fight against militants of the self-declared Islamic State in the besieged border city of Kobani.

The Associated Press reports, citing Syrian activists and Kurdish officials, that the group of around 50 armed men are from the Free Syrian Army. It was reported earlier that Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters were also being allowed to cross from Turkey.

Russia is backing a plan by separatists in eastern Ukraine to hold a vote in areas under their control ostensibly as part of a deal with Kiev to allow limited self-rule in the region. The vote, set for Nov. 2 would come days after Ukrainian elections that saw pro-Western parties allied with President Petro Poroshenko sweep to power.

At a checkpoint outside the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, I saw something I'd never seen before in Iraq.

Two men were checking cars. One was young and wearing a sand-colored uniform of the official Iraqi Kurdish forces, called the peshmerga. The other was older, grizzled and dressed in an olive-green, traditional Kurdish overall, and he's with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"We're happy to be working together," said the older man, Hajji Hussein Abdulrahman.

The Pentagon says it will investigate a video released by the self-declared Islamic State showing its fighters purportedly rifling through crates of U.S. arms intended for Kurdish forces fighting the extremist group.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said: "We're still taking a look at [the video] and assessing the validity of it."

youtube / KTN Kenya

The world is mourning the death in Broome County of a prominent African scholar who had ties to New York's State University system.

Kenyan-born Professor Ali Mazrui died early Monday morning - the 81-year-old was an academic and political writer on African and Islamic studies and North-South relations, as well as professor and director of the Center for Global Cultural Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton.

The number of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong has dwindled today after a weekend that saw dozens of arrests and an angry backlash from business owners whose shops were shut down amid the demonstrations.

The South China Morning Post says: "Protest sites are quiet on Monday as some demonstrators leave for work, others remain and authorities keep their distance."

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET

Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying is appealing to pro-democracy demonstrators who've brought parts of the Asian financial hub to a standstill in recent days to halt their campaign "immediately" because, he says, Beijing won't accede to their demands. But protesters have promised to announce a new phase of civil disobedience if reforms aren't forthcoming.

French warplanes conducted their first airstrikes against targets in northern Iraq just hours after the U.S. Senate approved arming and training Syrian rebels to enter the fight against Islamic State militants.

Rafale fighters struck a logistics depot, which French President Francois Hollande declared "entirely destroyed."

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