JAPAN EASES IMPORT curbs ON U.S. BEEF
Reflecting diminishing fears over mad cow disease, Japan eased its decade-old restriction on imports of U.S. beef Monday. Japan, the world's largest net importer of food, instituted the ban after bovine spongiform encephalopathy, an illness more commonly known as mad cow disease, was found in a cow in Washington state. A Japanese government council that oversees food and drug safety cleared a change in import regulations that would permit imports of meat from U.S. cattle 30 months old or younger, rather than the current 20 months. Japan eased the ban in 2006 but only for meat from cattle 20 months or younger. Japanese officials argued that the incidence of the disease was higher in older animals.
Senate passes aid for Sandy victims
Three months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged coastal areas in much of the Northeast, the Senate on Monday sent a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for storm victims to President Barack Obama for his signature. The vote was 62-36. The House passed the bill two weeks ago.
Nations reminded to aid Syria rebels
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned countries supporting the Syrian opposition on Monday that unless they honored their pledges of aid, the control of Syria could fall to militant Islamist groups. In Paris, Fabius addressed a meeting of the Friends of Syria group of more than 50 countries, including the United States, that back the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.
Man gets death for deadly wildfire
An arsonist was given the death penalty Monday for killing five men who died of heart attacks during a wildfire in 2003 that ripped through the hills east of Los Angeles. Rickie Lee Fowler, 31, was convicted in August. A jury later recommended the death sentence, and a judge affirmed it.
Yemen says boat had Iranian arms
Authorities in Yemen have seized a boat in their territorial waters filled with a large quantity of explosives, weapons and money, according to U.S. officials in Washington who were briefed on the interdiction. The officials said Monday that there were indications that Iran was smuggling the military contraband to insurgents inside Yemen.
Ex-dictator faces genocide charges
A former U.S.-backed dictator who presided over one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's civil war will stand trial on charges he ordered the murder, torture and displacement of thousands of Mayan Indians, a judge ruled Monday. Jose Efrain Rios Montt is the first former president to be charged with genocide by a Latin American court.
Washington: Social Security Commissioner Michael said Monday he will step down in February after completing his six-year term. President Barack Obama will name a new head to the federal government's largest program.
Mexico: Twelve bodies found in a well in northern Mexico appear to be members of an 18-piece band who were reported abducted at gunpoint last week, authorities said Monday.