Police: Rocket kills at least 26 people at wedding
A rocket fired amid fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan soldiers killed at least 26 people at a nearby wedding party Thursday, authorities said, a grim end to a year that saw the end of the 13-year U.S.-led combat mission there. The rocket struck a house in southern Helman province's Sangin District, where Afghan security forces have been battling insurgents in the six months since U.S. forces withdrew from the area. Police spokesman Fareed Ahmad Obaid said the rocket wounded at least 45 people. Bashir Ahmad Shakir, a provincial council member, said the death toll could be up to 30 killed with as many as 60 wounded. Wednesday marked the final day of the U.S. and NATO's combat mission.
Governor commutes 4 death sentences
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday that he would commute the sentences of Maryland's four remaining death row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Democrat's decision comes nearly two years after the Legislature repealed capital punishment in Maryland at O'Malley's urging, and three weeks before O'Malley will complete his second and final term in office. He is considering running for president in 2016. Maryland's repeal of capital punishment did not apply to prisoners already on death row. There were five such prisoners when the legislation took effect; one has since died of natural causes.
Whereabouts of U.S. spy remain unknown
Two weeks after the release of an imprisoned spy whom President Barack Obama called "one of the most important intelligence agents the United States has ever had in Cuba," the man's family is still asking: Where is he? Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, 51, is a former Cuban intelligence officer who was serving a 25-year prison sentence for espionage. Few people in or out of Cuba had heard of him until Dec. 17, when Obama announced that a man "whose sacrifice has been known to only a few" was safe on American shores after 19 years behind bars in Cuba. But Sarraff has yet to surface in public or to contact his parents, whom he had been calling daily from prison.
City may name streets after two slain officers
New York City officials plan to name two streets after the two NYPD officers who were shot and killed in their patrol car earlier this month. The move was announced in a Wednesday news release from Mayor Bill de Blasio and four City Council members, and it comes as de Blasio has been trying to smooth over relations with the New York Police Department, some of whose members have openly protested his administration. In a City Council proposal to be introduced this month, the Brooklyn streets where Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos had homes would be co-named "Detective Wenjian Liu Way" and "Detective Rafael Ramos Way," reflecting the officers' posthumous promotions.
Nationwide: At least 32 people in the United States have been sickened by listeria-tainted caramel apples — including six who have died — even as firms nationwide continue to recall the treats sold this fall, health officials said Wednesday.
Las Vegas: A police helicopter crashed on a residential street Wednesday, and two police officers were taken to a hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, authorities said. It wasn't immediately clear what caused the four-seat MD-500 helicopter to go down just before 1:30 p.m.
Yemen: A suicide bomber attacked a ceremony Wednesday hosted by Shiite rebels commemorating the birth of the prophet Mohammed, killing at least 24 people and wounding 48, authorities said.