World briefs: Hollande tours Jefferson home

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's mountaintop Virginia home, is an intensive course in the French influence on America's third president and the United States.

With that in mind, President Barack Obama made the Charlottesville landmark the first stop for French President Francois Hollande after he arrived in the U.S. on Monday, to see the architecture, the art and furnishings as well as the wine cellar and a kitchen stocked with copper French pots.

"Jefferson is arguably our greatest Francophile, and France, of course, is our first ally and critical to winning our independence," said Leslie Greene Bowman, the chief executive officer of Monticello.

With the alliance rejuvenated following a rift over the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Mr. Hollande is the guest of honor for the first state visit by a French president in 18 years. Mr. Obama is hosting a formal White House dinner tonight for him.

Early elections in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- The Bosnian Federation government, half of the dual ruling powers, called for early elections after hundreds of people were hurt in protests in the ex-Yugoslav republic's worst violence since 1995.

The government bowed to a demand from protest groups that were demonstrating for a sixth day Monday in rallies that included activists attacking police with acid and the torching of government buildings last week. Angry over graft and unpaid wages, demonstrators want a new government to replace a fractious mix of parties that now hold power.

Setback for Kenneth Bae

SEATTLE -- The family of a Washington state man imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year expressed alarm and sadness Monday after an invitation was canceled for a U.S. envoy to visit Pyongyang and discuss Kenneth Bae's release.

But Terri Chung, Mr. Bae's sister, said relatives are encouraged by a growing number of people -- including the Rev. Jesse Jackson -- calling for her brother's freedom.

Mr. Bae, 45, of Lynnwood, about 15 miles north of Seattle, had been living in China for seven years. He was taken into custody in November 2012 while leading a tour group into a North Korean economic zone.

Suicide bomber kills 2

KABUL, Afghanistan -- As a convoy of sport utility vehicles left the main prison in Kabul on Monday, a suicide bomber in a car crashed head-on into the lead vehicle, exploding in a fireball that sent the car's engine flying more than 100 yards.

Two NATO contractors who were working on prison affairs were killed and an unknown number of people were wounded, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Flooding worries increase

LONDON -- Flood alerts are in place for stretches of the River Thames, the marines have been called in and vulnerable homes were evacuated Monday.

Around 5,000 houses in Britain have been damaged since December in what has most likely been the rainiest season in at least 248 years. Thousands of other homes in the Thames Valley are under threat from rising waters in the coming days,

-- Compiled from news services


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