Sudan, rebels move closer to peace
Sudanese government officials and southern rebels signed a permanent cease-fire agreement Friday and endorsed a detailed plan to end a 21-year civil war blamed for 2-million deaths. After two years of talks, the adversaries signed agreements on implementing protocols on how to share power and natural wealth, what to do with their armed forces during a six-year transition period and how to administer three disputed areas in central Sudan. The agreements cleared the way for the sides to sign a comprehensive peace deal next month.
Colombian rebel extradited to U.S.
Colombia extradited a top leftist rebel to the United States on Friday to face drug and terror charges, an unprecedented move that followed his group's refusal to free dozens of hostages. Ricardo Palmera, wearing handcuffs and a bulletproof vest, became the first leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to be sent for trial in a U.S. federal court. President Alvaro Uribe earlier this month issued an ultimatum to the FARC giving the group until Thursday to free 63 hostages or see Palmera extradited. The list included politicians, government troops, three U.S. Defense Department contractors and a German businessman.
Entangled whale now swims free
Scientists apparently freed a young whale from more than 150 feet of lobster fishing gear Friday after riding alongside the animal on a Coast Guard cutter for nearly 24 hours, off the South Carolina coast.
The government now has a hotline for people to call with complaints about flight disruptions over the Christmas holiday weekend, the Transportation Department's inspector general said on Friday. People affected by travel disruptions should call toll-free 1-866-670-3341 or send an e-mail through the inspector general's Web site at http://www.oig.dot.gov.
+ College football's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
+ Russian Orthodox Christians observe Christmas.