Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called for the release of two men who hold dual US-Iranian citizenship who are jailed in Iran, saying Washington was “deeply concerned” about their fate. Amir Mirzai Hekmati, a former US Marine, was sentenced to death in January last year on charges of espionage that Kerry said were “false.” Abedini was handed an eight-year prison sentence in January for his role in establishing underground Christian churches. Kerry also asked for help in locating Robert Levinson, an ex-FBI agent who went missing while on a March 2007 trip to probe cigarette counterfeiting in the region. Tehran has said it has no new information about Levinson and that he is not in the country.
Talks offered to more rebels
President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday said he is ready to start talks with the country’s second-largest rebel movement, the National Liberation Army. He made the remark one day after the group freed a Canadian engineer it had held for seven months — a precondition he had set for such talks. The government already is holding peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
UN finds sanctions violated
The Security Ministry says a preliminary report by a team of UN experts has determined that a North Korean cargo ship seized for carrying weapons violated UN sanctions. The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the Cuban weapons found under sacks of sugar, including equipment for launching missiles, “without a doubt” violated sanctions meant to halt sophisticated arms sales to Pyongyang. The UN experts have yet to publish their report.
Flash floods kill 24
Twenty-four people were killed in the riverside capital of Bamako on Wednesday when torrential rains provoked flash floods that washed away homes in several neighborhoods, Minister of Internal Security and Civilian Protection Tiefing Konate said in a statement. Six neighborhoods were all hit by floods during rain storms that lasted most of the day, and 19 people died in the Taliko neighborhood alone, the statement said.
Bus crash kills 41
At least 41 people were killed and 27 injured yesterday in a bus crash west of Nairobi, the Kenyan Red Cross said. “It is a horrible scene. Bodies are strewn all over,” a traffic police official said by telephone from the scene near the town of Narok. The bus was about halfway into its journey from Nairobi to Homa Bay when it veered off the road and plunged into a valley, rolling over several times.
Colonel Meow sets record
Colonel Meow has 23cm hair. That is good enough to put the Himalayan-Persian mix into the latest edition of the Guinness World Records book, due out on Sept. 12. Owners Anne Marie Avey and Eric Rosario, of Los Angeles, say the two-year-old cat got its name because of his epic frown and fur. It takes both of them to brush the cat’s fur three times a week. Three independent veterinarians verified the length of the cat’s hair and submitted their findings to Guinness before he won the title. Avey says the 4.5kg cat has his own Web site, Facebook page and YouTube channel with more than 2 million views. Avey says Colonel Meow also sheds up a storm.