SpaceX rocket blows up after problem found
An unmanned SpaceX rocket self-destructed shortly after launching on a test flight at a central Texas development site, the company said Friday. At its facility in the central Texas town of McGregor, the company was testing a three-engine version of the F9R test vehicle, the successor of its reusable Grasshopper rocket, which was designed to launch and then land on the same site. During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission," said John Taylor, a spokesman for Elon Musk's upstart space company. The rocket never veered off course, and there were no injuries or near injuries, the company said. A representative from the Federal Aviation Administration was on site during the test flight. The company stressed that rooting out problems like the one exposed during the flight is the whole purpose of the test program.
Colombia military, rebels hold talks
Members of Colombia's military met face-to-face Friday with Marxist rebel leaders for the first time as talks aimed at ending a half-century war enter a decisive phase. Peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia taking place in Havana the past two years still face a number of obstacles. Among those is widespread concern in Colombia that atrocities committed by the FARC will go unpunished, and Colombians are likely to be given the right to vote on any deal in a referendum. But reflecting mounting optimism that a deal is within reach, recently re-elected President Juan Manuel Santos decided to send some of the Colombian military's most-decorated officers to Cuba to begin informal discussion on how to carry out any end to hostilities and an eventual cease-fire.
Officer accused of serial sex assaults
An Oklahoma City police officer arrested on charges of serial sexual assault preyed on women in the rundown neighborhoods he was assigned to patrol, according to an affidavit released Friday. Former star football player Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, raped one woman and either fondled others or forced them to expose themselves, investigators said. He made others perform sex acts on him. Police said there could be more victims than the seven already identified.
Storm predicted to miss U.S. coast
A storm system cruising across the Atlantic and dumping heavy rain is expected to become a tropical depression over the weekend. The system, making its way west as a sloppy wet system, has drifted northwest, prompting most tracking models to point it away from the U.S. coast. The National Hurricane Center said Friday that the storm was expected to sideswipe Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The island, already soaked by the wet season, could get heavy rain.
India: The government on Friday blocked the release of a film on the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, saying it glorifies her killers and could trigger violent protests.
Mexico: The government launched a special 5,000-strong police force Friday to combat industrial, farm and business crime that has extended throughout the economy, strangling commerce in some regions.