Torture settlement — A defense contractor whose subsidiary was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to torture detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has paid $5.28 million to 71 former inmates held there and at other U.S.-run detention sites between 2003 and 2007. The settlement in the case involving Engility Holdings Inc., of Chantilly, Va., marks the first successful effort by lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers to collect money from a U.S. defense contractor in lawsuits alleging torture.
Mexico dogs — Police scoured a hilly urban park for feral dogs and tested dozens of captured animals on Tuesday in a hunt for those responsible for four fatal maulings that have set off a fierce debate about how to handle the thousands of stray dogs that roam this massive city. Authorities have captured 25 dogs near the scene of the attacks in the capital's poor Iztapalapa district, but rather than calm residents, photos of the forlorn dogs brought a wave of sympathy for the animals.
Chavez update — President Hugo Chavez won't be able to attend his scheduled swearing-in this week, Venezuela's government announced Tuesday, confirming suspicions that the leader's illness will keep him in a Cuban hospital past the key date. Vice President Nicolas Maduro broke the news in a letter to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, saying on the recommendation of Chavez's medical team, his recovery process “should be extended beyond Jan. 10" and for that reason he won't be able to attend Thursday's scheduled inauguration.
CIA confirmation rumblings — President Barack Obama's choice of John Brennan to be the next CIA director hit a snag Tuesday as a Republican senator threatened to delay the nomination until the Obama administration provides answers on the deadly assault in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose opposition helped scuttle U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's hopes of becoming secretary of state, said the Senate should not confirm any Obama nominee for the nation's top spy post until the administration elaborates on the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Inauguration funding — Planners of President Barack Obama's second inauguration are soliciting high-dollar contributions up to $1 million to help pay for the celebration in exchange for special access. The changes are part of a continuing erosion of Obama's pledge to keep donors and special interests at arm's length of his presidency. He has abandoned the policy from his first inauguration to accept donations up to only $50,000 from individuals, announcing last month that he would take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations.
WikiLeaks case — An Army private suspected of sending reams of classified documents to the secret-sharing WikiLeaks website was illegally punished at a Marine Corps brig and should get 112 days cut from any prison sentence he receives if convicted, a military judge ruled Tuesday. Army Col. Denise Lind ruled during a pretrial hearing that authorities went too far in their strict confinement of Pfc. Bradley Manning for nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., in 2010 and 2011. Manning was confined to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Brig officials said it was to keep him from hurting himself or others.
Teen suicide study — Most adolescents who plan or attempt suicide have already gotten at least some mental health treatment, raising questions about the effectiveness of current approaches to helping troubled teenagers, according to the largest in-depth analysis to date of suicidal behaviors in U.S. teenagers. The study, posted online Tuesday by the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that 55 percent of suicidal teenagers had received some therapy before they thought about suicide, planned it or tried to kill themselves, contradicting the widely held belief that suicide is due in part to a lack of access to treatment.
Arctic drilling — The U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday opened an urgent review of Arctic offshore drilling operations after a series of blunders and accidents involving Shell Oil's drill ships and support equipment, culminating in the grounding of one of its drilling vessels last week off the coast of Alaska. Officials said the new assessment by federal regulators could halt or scale back Shell's program to open Alaska's Arctic waters to oil exploration.
Syria conflict — Shortages of food and shelter among Syria's war-ravaged civilians appeared to be worsening, as the United Nations said Tuesday it was unable to feed a million hungry residents in combat zones. The World Food Program, the food agency of the United Nations, said it was providing food to 1.5 million people inside Syria this month but as many as 2.5 million need help. Fighting also broke out during food distribution in the large Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
China protests — Protests over censorship at a liberal Chinese newspaper descended into ideological confrontation Tuesday, pitting free-speech advocates against Communist Party supporters. The face-off between liberals and leftists at the headquarters of a newspaper company in southern China came after disgruntled editors and reporters at Southern Weekend last week accused Tuo Zhen, Guangdong province's top propaganda official, of sanitizing a New Year's editorial originally urging greater respect for constitutional rights.
Benghazi suspect — The only known suspect jailed in connection with the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was freed Tuesday by the Tunisian authorities who had held him. His lawyer said he was released for lack of evidence. The suspect, Ali Harzi, 28, was detained in October at an airport in Turkey and deported to his home country on suspicion of involvement in the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last year.
North Korea visit — Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said early today that his delegation is pressing North Korea to put a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests and to allow more cellphones and an open Internet for its citizens. Richardson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang that the group is also asking for fair and humane treatment for an American citizen detained in North Korea.
Australia wildfires — Temperatures cooled from record highs across much of southern Australia early today, reducing the danger from scores of wildfires that have blazed for days. Australia recorded its hottest day on record on Monday with a nationwide average of 104.59 degrees Fahrenheit, narrowly breaking a 1972 record of 104.31F.
Kashmir clash — Indian and Pakistani soldiers traded gunfire in the disputed territory of Kashmir for the second time in three days Tuesday, this time leading to Indian claims that the Pakistanis had killed two Indian soldiers. The sudden surge in fatal combat is a troubling development in Kashmir, a disputed mountainous area that has been a focus of bitter tensions between the neighbors over six decades. A cease-fire has been in place for almost 10 years.
Nigeria fire — A massive fire tore through a waterfront slum in Nigeria's megacity of Lagos on Tuesday, burning down dozens of shack workshops and homes. When firefighters didn't turn up, locals tried in vain to stop the blaze with buckets of water. The fire hit along the dirty shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon, an area full of sawmills. Massive piles of sawdust and loose shavings fill the area. It was unclear if anyone was injured in the inferno.
— From wire reports