Latest Information:
Parallels
7:11 am
Thu October 31, 2013

World Headlines: Maliki Seeks U.S. Help On Iraq Security

Iraq, Al Sabah

We begin with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's visit to Washington.

The newspaper reported on Maliki's meetings Wednesday with Vice President Joe Biden, who renewed U.S. support for Iraq's security.

Maliki, who meets President Obama on Thursday, is seeking U.S. help to curb the rising violence in Iraq. The newspaper said Maliki's meetings will focus on "both internal and regional" matters, in particular Syria, where Baghdad wants a peaceful settlement.

Voice of America reported that a delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Iraq was on track for late next year. Iraq recently made a $650 million down payment for the planes, VOA reported.

Maliki also met with senior congressional leaders, including Sens. John McCain and Carl Levin.

Dominican Republic, El Caribe

Next, a U.N. population report.

The Dominican Republic is among those with the highest rates of pregnancies among those between the ages of 15 and 19.

The teen pregnancy rate is 19 percent in cities and 24.2 percent in rural areas. Pregnancies are more common in low-income and lesser-educated groups.

Additionally, Wednesday's U.N. report said 21 percent of teens in the country between 15 and 19 have sexually transmitted infections or symptoms.

The U.N. report says more than 7 million girls give birth in poor countries before the age of 18. Of these, 2 million are 14 or younger.

New Zealand, TVNZ

The pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed near Carterton, killing all 11 people on board, may have smoked marijuana before the flight, investigators say.

Lance Hopping was a known cannabis user and it was "highly likely" he smoked it on the morning of the flight on Jan. 7, 2012, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission said. A post-mortem found traces of THC, a marijuana ingredient.

The family of Alexis Still, one of those who died in the crash, reacted with anger at the findings.

"The pilot's drug taking habits and that he very probably used drugs immediately prior to taking 10 people on the flight, indicate that this was a man who did not consider or care what the impact of his illegal behaviour would have on those who paid him for an experience of a lifetime," a statement from the family said.

The investigation panel called for random drug-testing in the balloon industry, as well as testing after crashes.

Pakistan, Dawn

This story is a couple days old, but it's Halloween – and who doesn't like ghost stories?

The newspaper reported "panic, commotion and complete chaos" on Monday as female garment workers near Karachi were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center's emergency section.

"I saw a big black ghost in the washroom," Shagufta Naz, a young helper in the factory's checking department, told the newspaper. "It resembled a shadow but was far bigger than any shadow I have ever seen."

She added: "For days, we could hear the mysterious sound of a man sobbing in the washroom. We couldn't explain it. But today we saw him too and he wasn't an earthly being."

The newspaper reported that a female patient lying on a stretcher in front of Naz screamed, leading Naz herself to scream before breaking down.

Similar accounts were given by other factor workers who were hospitalized.

Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Afridi, the head of psychiatry and neurology at the hospital, provided an alternate explanation.

"What we have here is a case or mass hysteria and possession syndrome," he said.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.