Violence continues despite Arab League’s peace plan

Syrians in the restive region of Homs performed special prayers for a major Muslim holiday to the sound of explosions and gunfire as government troops pushed forward their assault on the area, killing at least 11 people Sunday, residents and activists said.

The violence on the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, added to fears that a peace plan brokered by the Arab League last week was unraveling and prompted Qatar’s prime minister to call for an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the Syrian government’s failure to abide by its commitments.

Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani called for the meeting “in light of the continuing acts of violence and the Syrian government’s noncompliance” with the terms of the Arab plan.

Violence has continued unabated, even though Damascus agreed to halt its crackdown on the seven-month-old uprising that the U.N. says has left some 3,000 people dead.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua

Election expected to return Daniel Ortega to presidency

Nicaraguans voted Sunday in elections expected to return one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega as president in what critics say could be the prelude to a presidency for life.

Since returning to power in 2007, Ortega, 65, has boosted his popularity in Central America’s poorest country with a combination of pork-barrel populism and support for the free-market economy he once opposed.

Now, riding on a populist platform and World Bank praise for his economic strategies, he seeks a third term – his second consecutive one – after the Sandinista majority on the Supreme Court overruled the term limits set by the Nicaraguan constitution.

With nearly 50 percent of voter support and an 18-point lead over his nearest challenger in the most recent poll, Ortega could end up with a mandate that would not only legitimize his re-election but also allow him to make constitutional changes guaranteeing perpetual re-election.


Rice: U.S. should consider tougher action against Iran

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States should consider even tougher penalties against Iran’s government and “be doing everything we can to bring it down.”

Rice told ABC’s “This Week” that the United States should never take the option of military force off the table when it comes to dealing with Iran.

She said the current Iranian government is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon and has repressed its own people. Rice said “the regime has absolutely no legitimacy left.”

Diplomats have said that the U.N. atomic agency plans to disclose intelligence this coming week suggesting that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful aims such as energy production.


Investigators try to find out cause of fire that killed five

A late-night fire at a home care facility for the disabled killed five people, and federal authorities Sunday were helping local investigators determine the cause of the blaze.

The fire was reported around 11:45 p.m. Saturday in Marina, a small coastal community in Monterey County south of San Francisco.

Four bodies were found shortly after the fire, and a fifth body was found by investigators Sunday morning, Marina police Lt. Rick Janicki said.

The cause of the fire hadn’t been determined by Sunday afternoon, but federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators were on the scene at the request of Marina fire officials, ATF spokeswoman Donna Sellers said.

The names of the victims weren’t expected to be released Sunday, said Randal Dyck, a detective with the Monterey County Coroner’s Office.

Records with the California Department of Social Services show the home was licensed with the state and was operating under the name of the Mt. Carmel Adult Residential Facility. A message left by The Associated Press at a phone number listed for the facility wasn’t immediately returned.


Lone Occupy Atlanta protester returns to park

A lone woman draped in the American flag was the only protester in an Atlanta park Sunday night, the day after 19 demonstrators were arrested by police in riot gear when a rally spilled into the streets.

Dozens more stood behind barricades surrounding Woodruff Park where police say they will enforce an 11 p.m. curfew. Occupy Atlanta organizer Tim Franzen said having one person protesting is just as powerful as several.

The group held its general assembly meeting earlier in the evening, then marched back to the downtown park. Police spokesman Carlos Campos said officers were watching. Police issued three warnings to leave the park. Usually after the third, they have moved in to make arrests.

“We’re just waiting to see if we need to enforce any laws and we stand ready to do so,” Campos said.

Occupy Atlanta organizers earlier said they planned to again camp at the park, setting up yet another potential showdown with police and the mayor.

Anti-Wall Street protesters across the country have been arrested in recent weeks, most for curfew violations. Some of the most intense confrontations between demonstrators and police have been in Oakland, Calif., where two Iraq War veterans have been hurt in separate clashes with officers.

In Atlanta, 19 were arrested on charges that they refused to leave the park after curfew or blocked city streets, police said. Most got out of jail Sunday, Franzen said, and one other person charged with aggravated assault and obstruction likely won’t be bailed out until sometime this week.