Mississippi tornado — A tornado tore through Hattiesburg on Sunday as part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured more than a dozen people. The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg’s main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Emergency officials said at least 10 people were injured in surrounding Forrest County and three were hurt to the west in Marion County, but they weren’t aware of any deaths.
Obama nominees — A leading Republican senator said Sunday he would hold up Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominees to head the Pentagon and the CIA until the White House provided more answers about the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. installation in Benghazi, Libya. The White House took aim at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a persistent critic of Obama’s response to the terrorist assault, by urging quick approval of the president’s second-term national security team and scolding any lawmakers trying to “play politics" with critical nominations.
Fighting in Mali — Black-robed Islamic extremists armed with AK-47 automatic rifles invaded Gao in wooden boats Sunday to launch a surprise attack on the most populous city in northern Mali, two weeks after French and Malian troops ousted the jihadists. Gunfire echoed for hours across the city of mud-walled buildings. The combat started in mid-afternoon in downtown Gao and the fighting was continuing as night fell. Later the sound of gunfire was replaced by the clattering of French military helicopters overhead.
California copter crash — Three people were killed Sunday in a pre-dawn helicopter crash in a rural area of northern Los Angeles County while filming for a new reality TV show for the Discovery Channel. The copter crashed at about 3:40 a.m. at the popular filming location of Polsa Rosa Ranch in the city of Acton, Los Angeles County Fire dispatcher Robert Diaz said. All three people aboard died, Diaz said. Their names weren’t immediately released.
Syria clashes — Opposition forces targeted Damascus with mortars, a roadside bomb and a suicide attack on Sunday as they pressed ahead in their quest for the seat of President Bashar Assad’s power. Outside the capital, government troops battled rebels for the fifth straight day for control of a key highway. Both sides consider the fight for Damascus the most likely endgame in a nearly two-year-old civil war that has already killed more than 60,000 people.
India festival stampede — The death toll from a stampede in a train station rose to 36 early today in a northern India city where millions of devotees had gathered for a Hindu festival that is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings. At least 36 other pilgrims were injured in the crush in the city of Allahabad, medical superintendent Dr. P. Padmakar of the main state-run hospital said. Padmakar said 23 of the dead were women. Tens of thousands of people were in the city’s main rail station waiting to board a train when railway officials announced a last-minute change in the platform, forcing people to rush there, eyewitnesses said.
Violence Against Women Act — The issue of tribal court powers has become the last remaining controversy holding up Congress’ broad reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. The Senate is expected to approve the 218-page bill today. But in the House, Republican negotiators are still struggling over a 10-page section that would, for the first time, allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on tribal land.
Scottish independence — Scotland would have to renegotiate membership in the European Union and other international organizations if it votes for independence in a referendum next year, according to legal advice expected to be published today by the British government. The unusual decision to make public an official legal opinion could intensify the debate over the terms under which Scotland might achieve a divorce from the rest of Britain — a discussion being watched closely in other parts of Europe where separatism is on the rise.
Philippine croc mourned — A southern Philippine town plans to hold funeral rites for the world’s largest saltwater crocodile and then preserve its remains in a museum to keep tourists coming and prevent their community from slipping back into obscurity, the town’s mayor said early today. The 1-ton crocodile was declared dead Sunday a few hours after flipping over with a bloated stomach in a pond in an eco-tourism park in Bunawan town, which had started to draw tourists, revenue and development because of the immense reptile, Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said.
— From wire reports