Mandela shows improvement, daughter says
Nelson Mandela has made "dramatic progress," and may be going home "anytime soon," said his daughter Zindzi on the eve of his 95th birthday. "I visited him yesterday and he was watching television with headphones," Zindzi Mandela said in an interview Wednesday with Britain's Sky TV. "He gave us a huge smile and raised his hand. . . . He responds with his eyes and his hands." Mandela is gaining "energy and strength," she said. "I should think he will be going home anytime soon." The latest description by Zindzi is a significant improvement from court documents filed by the family this month that said he was near death. Mandela has been in a Pretoria hospital since June 8, and officials say his condition is critical but stable.
Assad supporter killed in Lebanon
A prominent Syrian political analyst known for his staunch support of the government of President Bashar Assad was shot and killed early Wednesday at his home south of the Lebanese capital, authorities said. The commentator, Mohammad Darrar Jammo, 44, fell amid a hail of bullets in what officials suspect was a well-planned political assassination. Assailants using automatic weapons shot Jammo at close range at 2:30 a.m. at his home in the coastal town of Sarafand, according to local media accounts.
Graham's boycott idea not popular
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., touched a nerve in athletes and Olympic officials alike Wednesday by floating the possibility of boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. "I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world," Graham told NBC News. The mere suggestion of a boycott was enough for the U.S. Olympic Committee to release a statement that said members "strongly oppose" a boycott.
Wildfire forces more evacuations
Authorities in Southern California issued evacuation orders for hundreds of homes Wednesday as a major wildfire approached in the mountains southwest of Palm Springs. Large parts of the communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley were under evacuation orders with an estimated 300 to 400 homes affected, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Carol Jandrall.
BAGHDAD: Attacks in Iraq targeting diners in two cafes and swimmers in a stream killed at least 10 people on Wednesday, as violence surges during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
CLEVELAND: Ariel Castro, the 53-year-old man accused of holding three women captive in his home for more than a decade, pleaded not guilty Wednesday on an expanded indictment charging him with 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape, among other crimes.