Israeli housing planned for east jerusalem
Israel has advanced the process of building 942 more settler homes in East Jerusalem under a new fast-track plan to tighten its grip on the territory, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state. A government planning committee on Monday moved the project to the advanced stage of asking contractors to submit bids to build them, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. Once a bid is awarded, construction can begin on the project in the Gilo area, though it can take months, if not longer, to reach that point. About 40,000 Israelis live in Gilo. Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the new Israeli announcement was a "red line" that would block the chance for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which a Palestinian state would be established alongside Israel.
Ben Affleck won't run for U.S. Senate
Actor Ben Affleck has taken his name off the list of possible candidates for Sen. John Kerry's seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state. Affleck said in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office. Speculation about the Cambridge, Mass., native rose slightly when he did not completely rule out a Senate bid during an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday.
Chávez improves, vice president says
Vice President Nicolas Maduro surprised Venezuelans with an announcement that President Hugo Chávez is up and walking two weeks after cancer surgery in Cuba, but the news did little to ease uncertainty surrounding his condition. Sounding giddy, Maduro told state television that he had spoken by phone with Chávez for 20 minutes Monday night.
Lost, blind dog is back with owners
Blind and alone in Alaska temperatures that dipped 40 degrees below zero, a lost 8-year-old Fairbanks dog wasn't given much of a chance to make it home. But after walking 10 miles to the edge of a musher's dog yard, Abby the brown-and-white mixed breed was found and returned to her owners, a family that includes three boys under age 10. Abby, raised from a pup, vanished during a snowstorm Dec. 13, and the family never expected to see her again, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported on Monday. "It's a miracle," owner McKenzie Grapengeter said.
Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Cabinet resigned today to clear the way for a vote in parliament to install the nation's new leader, Shinzo Abe, whose conservative Liberal Democratic Party won parliamentary elections on Dec. 16.
Nigeria: Gunmen attacked a village in northeast Nigeria early Tuesday, killing at least five people in the latest violence to hit a region long under attack by the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, the military said Tuesday.