Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 12:22 pm
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel landed in Afghanistan Saturday for a surprise visit with the troops.
Despite the fact that the U.S. and Afghanistan are at odds over a security agreement that allows U.S. troops to remain in the country past 2014, Hagel has no plans to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign the security agreement.
Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 2:25 pm
The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reports that Pyongyang has deported Merrill Newman, the U.S. tourist and Korean War veteran who was arrested in October during a visit to the reclusive state.
The Associated Press says, "Newman appeared over the weekend on North Korean state television apologizing for alleged wartime crimes in what was widely seen as a coerced statement."
KCNA said he was being released because he had made the apology.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:03 pm
The Associated Press is quoting a Mexican government official as saying six people in the hospital for possible radiation exposure are suspects in this week's theft of a shipment of radioactive cobalt-60.
The unnamed official tells the AP that the suspects were arrested on Thursday and were taken to the general hospital in Pachuca for observation and testing.
The news agency quotes Hidalgo state Health Minister Pedro Luis Noble as saying none are in grave condition and may be released soon.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:11 pm
France has sent troops to the Central African Republic after violence there flared between Muslim and Christian militias amid reports that the death toll from fighting had reached 280.
The Associated Press reports:
"[Mostly] Muslim armed fighters who have ruled the country since March hunted door-to-door for their enemies. Bodies lay decomposing along the roads in a capital [Bangui] too dangerous for many to collect the corpses."
An "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones" known as Radiant Orchid is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, unseating the more verdantly inclined Emerald that dominated the previous 12 months.
Pantone Color Institute, which describes itself as a global authority on color, describes its latest pick as "a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" whose "rosy undertones radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women."
In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.
NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.
An Egyptian cleric abducted in 2003 in Milan, Italy, under the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition was convicted of terrorism charges Friday in Italy and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison.
The cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, now lives in Egypt and is unlikely to return to Italy to serve the sentence.
Italy had been in the process of investigating Nasr, who they suspected of terrorism, when he was snatched and transferred to Egypt via Germany. Nasr said he was tortured in Egypt.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 1:53 pm
The final draw of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was announced Friday. The U.S. team will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G; host Brazil will face world No. 16 Croatia in Group A. Only the top two teams of each group advance to the next round.
The draw puts the U.S., currently ranked as the world's No. 14 team, in the same group with the world's No. 2 (Germany) and No. 5 (Portugal). Ghana is ranked 24th. The showdown with Germany has the potential to be bittersweet for Jürgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U.S. team who was a star for German World Cup teams in the 1990s.