Pentagon says Afghans to need help after 2014
Following reports in recent weeks that the White House is considering a full withdrawal from Afghanistan when the NATO-led mission ends in December 2014, a Pentagon assessment released Tuesday says significant foreign military assistance and financial support for Afghan security forces will be required long after U.S. troops are expected to depart. "Beyond then, it will still require substantial training, advising and assistance — including financial support — to address ongoing shortcomings," said the twice-yearly report, which is required by Congress. President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. troop levels, which were at 68,000 earlier this year, to be cut in half by February. Negotiations are under way with the Afghan government on a bilateral security agreement, including whether U.S. military personnel will remain after the NATO mandate expires at the end of next year.
Train driver was on phone, report says
The driver was on the phone with a colleague and apparently looking at a document as his train barreled ahead at 95 mph — almost twice the speed limit. Suddenly, a notorious curve was upon him, according to investigators who announced their preliminary findings Tuesday from analysis of the train's data-recording "black boxes." The report suggested that human error appeared to be the cause of the derailment that killed 79 people on July 24 in Spain's worst railway disaster in decades. The investigators said train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo hit the brakes too late.
Record $250M gift for small college
Centre College, a small rural college in Danville, Ky., announced Tuesday that it had received the largest outright gift ever made to a liberal arts college: $250 million, in stock from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust. The gift will be used to create scholarships — 40 a year starting in the fall of 2014 — for students planning to major in natural sciences, computational sciences or economics. With 1,370 students, about half from Kentucky, Centre is known for its extensive study abroad programs, the quality of its teaching, its high level of alumni giving — and for hosting October's vice presidential debate.
Appeals court bars rules on big sodas
A state appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision striking down New York City's restrictions on the sale of large, sugary drinks, dealing a serious blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's hopes of reviving the rule before his term ends. The court, the First Department of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, concurred with a lower court's ruling that the city's Board of Health overstepped its bounds as a nonlegislative body by approving the rule.
New York: Mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner released a new campaign video Tuesday saying he won't leave the race because quitting isn't what New Yorkers do. Last week, Weiner acknowledged exchanging sexually explicit messages online after similar behavior spurred his resignation from Congress in 2011.
South Korea: In a verdict expected to intensify tensions with Japan, a South Korean court on Tuesday ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate five South Koreans who were forced to work in the company's factories during the period of Japanese colonial rule of Korea, which ended with World War II.