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US defence secretary calls Afghan army 'a powerful force'

Pentagon chief: Afghan army 'powerful force,' declines to say if US can scale back training
Robert Burns, The Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter on Sunday called Afghanistan's army "a powerful force in their own right" but declined to say whether he thinks the U.S. can scale back military training and advising this year as planned.

Carter wrapped up two days in the war zone by consulting with U.S. and Afghan commanders at Kandahar air field, an important hub in the network of U.S. advisory posts that are due to close before year's end.

Maldives arrests ex-president for his move to arrest judge

Maldives arrests ex-President and current opposition leader Nasheed for move to arrest judge
The Associated Press

MALE, Maldives - Authorities in the Maldives arrested former President and current opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday, ordering him to stand trial for his 2012 decision to arrest a senior judge.

Police ticket boy after toy motorcycle hits SUV

Mexico police ticket 6-year-old boy, impound his toy motorcycle after crash with SUV
The Associated Press

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Police in this border city repented Thursday over ticketing a 6-year-old boy for reckless driving, driving without a license and not having his vehicle registered after he drove his miniature motorcycle into an SUV.

The boy's mother, Karla Noriega, said police impounded the miniature gasoline-powered motorbike that her son got for Christmas after he crashed into an SUV on Dec. 27.

Myanmar frees prominent political prisoners

Myanmar releases prominent political prisoners after presidential pardon
The Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar has freed several prominent political prisoners, which has been a key condition set by Western countries for easing sanctions against the country.

Myanmar authorities freed the prisoners Friday as part of a presidential pardon for 651 detainees. Relatives and supporters of activists and ethnic minority politicians confirmed their release.

Myanmar state radio and television announced said that the 651 detainees were being freed to take part in "nation-building."

Japan's PM reshuffles Cabinet to win tax support

Japan's leader reshuffles Cabinet to win opposition support for tax hike proposal
Malcolm Foster, The Associated Press

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda replaced five members of his Cabinet on Friday in a bid to win more co-operation from the opposition to raise the sales tax and rein in the country's bulging fiscal deficit.

Two of the removed ministers had been censured by the opposition for making comments that were deemed inappropriate. Twelve posts were unchanged, including finance and foreign minister.

Panetta assures Afghans of full probe into video

US assures Afghans of full probe of Marines video amid condemnation and fear of strained ties
Pauline Jelinek,Robert Burns, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Pentagon leaders scrambled Thursday to contain damage from an Internet video that purports to show four Marines urinating on Taliban corpses, an act that would appear to violate international laws of warfare and further strains U.S.-Afghan relations.

Court asked to release Moroun, top aide from jail

Lawyers ask Michigan appeals court to release Moroun, Stamper from jail in bridge dispute
The Associated Press

DETROIT - Lawyers have asked the Michigan appeals court to release the owner of the Ambassador Bridge while he appeals an order that put him in jail for civil contempt.

The filing came hours after Manuel "Matty" Moroun and Dan Stamper were sent to jail Thursday as the consequence for the bridge company failing to finish work connecting the bridge to interstates.

UK spies will face criminal inquiry over Libya

UK spies will face criminal inquiry into claims that intelligence shared with Gadhafi regime
Paisley Dodds, The Associated Press

LONDON - Britain's spy agencies will face a criminal investigation into claims that intelligence shared with Moammar Gadhafi's regime led to the torture or rendition of two Libyan men and their families, authorities announced Thursday.

Congo Catholic leaders seek election re-evaluation

Congo Catholic bishops call on election commission to re-evaluate "badly organized" elections
Saleh Mwanamilongo, The Associated Press

KINSHASA, Congo - Members of Congo's powerful Catholic clergy on Thursday called for the election commission to re-evaluate "serious errors" in national elections that gave victory to the incumbent president — or failing that, to resign.

Suspended sentence for Pole in martial law case

Communist-era official gets suspended 2-year prison term over martial law in Poland
Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland - A Polish court on Thursday handed a two-year suspended prison term to a communist-era interior minister for his role in implementing martial law in Poland in 1981.

The verdict is the latest effort by democratic Poland to hold communist-era officials accountable for abuses during their rule.

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