latin leaders challenge u.s. role in region
The hemisphere is throwing a party but not everyone's invited. The leaders of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries are gathering in Venezuela today to forge a new organization that will include every nation in the region except the United States and Canada. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, will supplant the Rio Group and some are hoping it will replace the Organization of American States, which they accuse of being a U.S. mouthpiece.
Rev. Billy Graham has pneumonia
The Rev. Billy Graham was in good spirits at a hospital Thursday after being given his second pneumonia diagnosis since May. Graham, 93, was taken to Mission Hospital on Wednesday with congestion, a cough and slight fever, his spokesman said. The pneumonia diagnosis was made Thursday. "He is responding well to antibiotic treatment and is in stable condition," said Dr. Mark Hellreich, a pulmonologist treating Graham at the hospital. No date was set for his release.
$255M okayed for quake-torn Haiti
The World Bank will spend $255 million to help house Haitians, clean up neighborhoods and send thousands of children to school in the next year under a plan approved Thursday by the agency's board. The funds seek to fill critical needs in Haiti as it nears the anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. The funds give hope that reconstruction will move along even though a recovery panel that was supposed to coordinate the efforts dissolved in October.
Al-Qaida claims an American hostage
Al-Qaida's leader claimed Thursday that the terrorist group is holding an American aid worker hostage in Pakistan and demanded the end of airstrikes on militants and the release of prisoners held in the West in return for his freedom. U.S. intelligence officials said the claim in the video message from Ayman al-Zawahri was credible. The message marked the first time al-Qaida has asserted responsibility for the kidnapping of Warren Weinstein, the 70-year-old Pakistan director for a Virginia development contractor. He was abducted in August at gunpoint from his residence in Lahore.
Phoenix: Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico who ran for president in 2008, is being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible violations of campaign finance laws, the New York Times reported.
Irvine, Calif.: Florida pastor Terry Jones, who made headlines for threatening to burn the Koran, was asked Thursday to stay away from the University of California, Irvine, where he was to speak to students. Police said they had information about suspicious activity, raising safety concerns.