Despite qualms about embroiling peacekeeping troops in the global fight against Islamist extremists, the U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to establish a force for Mali, where militants controlled much of the north until France intervened in January. The U.N. force, to be composed of 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police officers, is to deploy July 1 to stabilize the nation on the condition that the fight between the French-led troops and the retreating militants remains low-key. The resolution specifies French troops will intervene again should the peacekeeping forces face an "imminent and serious threat."
Court: Women can wear prayer shawl
In a landmark ruling on the struggle over prayer at Judaism's holiest shrine, an Israeli court ruled Thursday that women could legally pray at the Western Wall wearing prayer shawls, contrary to Orthodox practice enforced at the site. The ruling came after a string of incidents in recent months in which police detained women who wore the shawls while worshiping at the shrine, saying they had broken a law requiring prayer according to "local custom."
Sheriff: Woman left lion door open
Authorities in Central California said Thursday that a volunteer worker killed in a lion attack at Cat Haven animal park accidentally caused her own death by leaving the animal's door open. Fresno County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Wilkins said his office has closed its investigation of Dianna Hanson's death. "We've determined that it was an accident and there was no criminal liability toward the park's owner," Wilkins said. He said Hanson, 24, failed to secure the door to a feeding cage where the lion was while she cleaned an adjacent area.
Bird flu: from chicken to human
Chinese scientists have for the first time found strong evidence of how humans became infected with a new strain of bird flu: from chickens at a live market. Scientists compared swabs from birds at markets in eastern China to virus samples from four patients who got the new H7N9 virus. Scientists found the virus from one patient was nearly identical to one found in a chicken. The research was published online Thursday in the journal Lancet. Chinese authorities have shut down live poultry markets in many regions, which seems to have slowed the virus. So far, it has infected more than 100 people in China and killed more than 20.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Boat sinks, tourists swim 14 hours
A brother and sister are recovering in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia after their boat sank during a fishing trip, forcing them to swim almost 14 hours to reach land. Dan Suski, of San Francisco, and Kate Suski, of Seattle, said Thursday they thought they would die and never reach shore. The Suskis said the boat had an electrical problem Sunday, took on water and began to sink, leading them, the captain and the first mate to abandon ship almost 12 miles off St. Lucia's west coast. The captain and first mate also survived. The Suskis said they are recovering after being hospitalized with severe dehydration and tendinitis. They plan to fly back to the United States on Saturday.