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Iran’s Ahmadinejad to tour 4 Latin American nations

By Cristina Munoz and Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times QUITO, Ecuador — In the face of increasing tension between Iran and the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans a four-nation tour…

Afghan tribal elder gunned down in Helmand province

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times – KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen ambushed and killed a prominent tribal elder in Helmand province Wednesday as he was on his way to evening prayers,…

Scores killed in string of bombings in Iraq

By Raheem Salman and Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times – BAGHDAD and BEIRUT — A string of explosions Thursday targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims in the south of Iraq and mainly Shiite…

Losing students in southern Iowa: Can local schools reverse the troubling trend?

Mark Newman, Ottumwa Courier, Iowa – OTTUMWA — The state as a whole may have lost students 14 years straight, but it may be the smaller and rural districts which have…

Headless cats found in Utah park

Jasen Asay, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah – CLEARFIELD — The next time Jana Taylor takes her dog for a walk in the park, she plans to carry pepper spray and her cellphone.…

British police investigate discovery of body on queen’s estate

By Janet Stobart, Los Angeles Times – LONDON — There were all the elements of a mystery novel of the type Britons love so well: a wooded area on the queen’s…

Montana court opinion takes aim at Citizens United decision

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times – SEATTLE — Montana has engaged in a long, slow dance between corporations and politicians through much of its history. The free-spending audacity of the…

Case in tiny town makes big waves

By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune – CHICAGO — Michael Allison is a lot of trouble for a small town. The 42-year-old car buff from Bridgeport, about 250 miles south of Chicago,…

Taliban says it will open a political office in Qatar

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times – KABUL — In its most public indication to date of a willingness to enter peace negotiations, the Taliban movement announced Tuesday it planned to…

How 80,000 volunteers showed Joplin ‘the world cares’

How 80,000 volunteers showed Joplin ‘the world cares’

By Todd C. Frankel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch – JOPLIN, Mo. — The volunteers started arriving at first light. Some lived nearby. Others drove through the night. No one summoned them. They…

FDA falling short on safety checks for baby wipes

FDA falling short on safety checks for baby wipes

By John Diedrich and Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – MILWAUKEE — Five years ago, whistleblowers sent a letter to federal regulators warning that contaminated baby wipes were streaming out of…

Priorities, staffing impede oversight

By John Diedrich and Ben Poston, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is required to inspect drugmakers every two years, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel…

Possible showdown with Iran sends oil prices soaring

Possible showdown with Iran sends oil prices soaring

By Jonathan S. Landay and Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers – WASHINGTON — The possibility of a confrontation between the United States and Iran appeared to rise Tuesday after the Obama…

Casey Anthony prosecutor announces state attorney bid

By Anthony Colarossi, The Orlando Sentinel – ORLANDO, Fla. — Supporters clapped outside the Orange County Courthouse Tuesday as retired prosecutor Jeff Ashton announced his bid for state attorney, challenging his…

Weight-loss surgery reduces cardiovascular risks, study says

By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times – LOS ANGELES — Weight-loss surgery clearly cuts the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from cardiovascular disease, a new study shows. But the…

Muslim villagers clash with Chinese authorities over mosque’s demolition

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times BEIJING — The government demolition of a newly refurbished mosque in a northern Chinese village has raised tensions with the Hui, a Muslim group that…

Israeli, Palestinian officials hold first talks in more than a year

By Sheera Frenkel, McClatchy Newspapers – JERUSALEM — Israeli and Palestinian officials met Tuesday in Jordan’s capital, Amman, in the first attempt at peace talks in more than a year. As…

Arab League, dissidents disagree on progress in Syria

By Alexandra Zavis and Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times – BEIRUT — Syria’s government has taken steps to comply with a regional initiative to end months of bloodshed, including pulling tanks…

Historian casts a skeptical eye on the emerging Egypt

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times – CAIRO — Wrapped in a shawl on a cold morning, Gamal Banna shuffled over a dusty carpet amid fraying books on old civilizations. He…

Austin, MN audience to get early look at Buddy Holly tribute

Trey Mewes, Austin Daily Herald, Minn. – Buddy Holly fans should take note this Friday. That’ll be the day a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valenz and The Big Bopper comes…

Chicago jogger critically injured by pit bulls: ‘They wouldn’t let the man go’

Carlos Sadovi and Kate Thayer, Chicago Tribune – A 62-year-old man was critically injured this morning after he was attacked by what police described as two adult pit bull terriers while…

Christchurch hit by 17 quakes in 18 hours

By David Barber   WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s quake-ravaged city of Christchurch was rocked Monday by 17 earthquakes in 18 hours. No serious damage was reported from the…

Suspect in shooting of park ranger near Mount Rainer is found dead

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times SEATTLE — A troubled veteran of the war in Iraq suspected in the fatal shooting of a park ranger was found dead Monday near a…

Militants agree to truce with Pakistan, unite against NATO

By Tom Hussain, McClatchy Newspapers – ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani Islamist militants on Sunday pledged to cease their four-year insurgency against Pakistani security forces, and join the Taliban’s war against NATO…

Man sought in park ranger’s killing believed dead

By Nick Provenza, The Seattle Times – SEATTLE — A man was found dead in Mount Rainier National Park this morning and he is believed to be the suspect in the…

BRIEF: Two killed in I-90 rollover on New Year’s Day

Sarah Stultz, Albert Lea Tribune, Minn. – Two people died Sunday afternoon after a rollover on Interstate 90 one mile west of the Bricelyn exit. According to the Minnesota State Patrol,…

Federal judge held court in combat zones

By Gary L. Wright, McClatchy Newspapers – CHARLOTTE, N.C. — U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney kept his 9 mm pistol under his black robe in a holster strapped to his right…

Liberal or conservative, Americans aren’t all enemies

By Linda P. Campbell, McClatchy Newspapers – The starkest evidence of how conservative southwest Missouri is didn’t come from the Interstate 44 roadside ads for Fantastic Caverns, the constant reminders of…

OPINION: Sheriff Arpaio should lose his throne

MCT FORUM By Jose Miguel Leyva – Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s kingdom in Maricopa County needs to come to an end. For too many years, his office has weathered scandal after scandal,…

Ranger shot and killed at Mount Ranier

SEATTLE — A 34-year-old park ranger was shot to death Sunday morning in Mount Rainier National Park after a routine traffic stop led to a car chase. The gunman remained…

John Cross column

John Cross, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn. – — The northern Iowa countryside hasn’t changed a whole lot in two months. Last Wednesday, the landscape was as brown as it was on…

Minnesota alcohol-related deaths declining

Albert Lea Tribune, Minn. – New Year’s Eve always has the potential to be a dangerous night on the roads, but the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic…

Iran claims it’s made a nuclear fuel rod, tested new missile

By Ramin Mostaghim and Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times – TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Sunday that its scientists had produced the country’s first nuclear fuel rod, and its navy had…

Jet Propulsion Lab ushers in new year with moon-mapping project

By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times – LOS ANGELES — Midnight ushered in the new year. But at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, celebration will have to wait…

Western Alaska grapples with alcohol-fueled crime

By Lisa Demer, McClatchy Newspapers –   ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Disturbing new numbers accent what law enforcement, social agencies, Native leaders and politicians have long realized about Western Alaska: It struggles…

U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan war fell in 2011

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times – KABUL — It was by no means a common occurrence. But in the year that just drew to a close, a day would often…

Australia’s ‘Forrest Gump’ sets off around the world

By Sid Astbury SYDNEY, Australia — One Australian not hanging around on Sydney Harbour to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks and welcome 2012 is Tom Denniss. Early on Saturday,…

New Zealand mud, Berlin fires, lunar orbit greet 2012

By Sid Astbury, Helen Maguire, Joseph Nasr and Jasper Mortimer BERLIN — Fireworks, light shows and bell ringing hailed the arrival of 2012 on New Year’s Eve as many put…

Magnitude-7 quake rattles eastern Japan

By Takehiko Kambayashi TOKYO — A magnitude-7 earthquake rattled wide areas of eastern and north-eastern Japan on Sunday, shaking buildings in Tokyo, the meteorological agency said. No tsunami warning was…

Nearly 500 people injured in holiday revelry in the Philippines

By Girlie Linao   MANILA — Nearly 500 people were injured by fireworks and gunfire in the Philippines despite a government campaign against rowdy celebrations to welcome the New Year,…