South Africa: Mandela's 90th
QUNU Nelson Mandela sat beaming in a yellow armchair, his legs propped up on a large stool and covered with a pale yellow blanket. Ten grandchildren crowded around to serenade him with "Happy Birthday" and then smothered him with hugs and kisses.
The anti-apartheid icon celebrated his 90th birthday Friday with his family at his home in rural southeastern South Africa, and the whole village turned out. Sounding and looking vigorous, Mandela told a small group of reporters he was fortunate to have reached 90, crediting his "behavior" for his longevity.
Afghanistan: Journalist freed
KABUL An Afghan journalist who contributes to The Associated Press was freed Friday after his pictures and video footage of two women brazenly executed by the Taliban led intelligence officials to hold him for questioning for two days.
Rahmatullah Naikzad confirmed that authorities had released him, saying he was "fine," and that he'd been let go in time to attend a family funeral.
Colombia: March for hostages
BOGOTA Tens of thousands are expected to join marches across this nation Sunday, which will be joined by simultaneous gatherings in South Florida, Paris and other cities around the world, to demand the release of hundreds of hostages still held by leftist rebels in the jungles and mountains of Colombia.
The global call comes after 15 longtime hostages, including three American defense contractors and former Colombian presidential contender Ingrid Betancourt, were rescued in a bold operation early this month. The marches coincide with Colombian Independence Day.
Cuba: War crimes trial set
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE A jury of military officers is traveling to Guantanamo Bay this weekend as part of final preparations for the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War II.
The panel members have been hand-picked by the Pentagon to hear the case of Salim Hamdan, a former driver and alleged bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, whose trial is scheduled to begin Monday inside a hilltop courthouse overlooking an abandoned airstrip.
Mexico: U.S. aids in drug bust
MEXICO CITY Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday that U.S. intelligence led Mexican forces to a small submarine captured this week packed with 5.8 tons of cocaine.
Chertoff called the vessel's seizure Wednesday off Oaxaca state in southern Mexico "a great example of our cooperation." Mexican navy Vice Adm. Jose Maria Ortegon said the 30-foot green submarine was equipped with GPS and a compass, and its crew had planned to drop off its shipment on Mexican shores. Authorities arrested four Colombian crew members who claim to be fishermen forced by drug cartels to move the cargo.
United Nations: New chief
UNITED NATIONS The United Nations chief told rights advocates Friday that his choice to be the next U.N. human rights commissioner is a South African judge who was the first black woman to serve on her country's high court, the director of Human Rights Watch said.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had selected Navanethem Pillay for the job, but he had not yet taken official action, said Kenneth Roth, who was among a dozen representatives from human rights groups who met with Ban. Ban's office is expected to announce her appointment early next week.