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BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — More than 500 people have been killed over the past week in sectarian fighting in Central African Republic, aid officials said Tuesday, as France reported that gunmen killed two of its soldiers who were part of the intervention to disarm thousands of rebels accused of attacking civilians.
NABEK, Syria (AP) — Masked gunmen abducted a leading Syrian human rights lawyer and three other prominent activists in a rebel-held Damascus suburb Tuesday in a new sign that al-Qaida linked militants who have joined the fight against President Bashar Assad are trying to silence rivals in the opposition movement.
By Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a new push to increase access to mental health services with $100 million in new government funding nearly a year after a school shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut. Biden, who spearheaded a failed Obama administration campaign for stronger gun control measures following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, met with families of the victims and mental health advocates. "The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable," he said in a statement. President Barack Obama has said the worst day of his presidency was December 14, 2012, the day a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the school before turning a gun on himself.
By Emily Stephenson and Douwe Miedema WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. banks will no longer be able to make big trading bets with their own money after regulators on Tuesday finalized the Volcker rule and shut down what was a hugely profitable business for Wall Street before the credit crisis. After struggling for more than two years to craft the complex rule, five regulatory agencies signed off on the nearly 900-page reform that included new tough sections narrowing carve-outs for legitimate trades. The rule is expected to eat into revenues at large investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, even if many have already wound down some of their trading desks in anticipation of the rule's release, and may spark legal challenges. That's going to be a really important document," said Bradley Sabel, a lawyer at Shearman and Sterling in New York.
The East Coast's first significant snowfall of the season dumped as much as 6 inches on northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New England, according to the National Weather Service. By midday the storm had blown through Washington, D.C., where federal government offices were shut for the day, the Office of Personnel Management said. In neighboring Delaware, Governor Jack Markell announced state offices were shut and urged residents to stay off dangerously slick roads. "People were just sliding into one another." In Oklahoma, the medical examiner said winter weather was responsible for 11 deaths ranging from traffic accidents on icy roads to falling into icy waters.
MARSEILLE, France (AP) — A disgraced French businessman was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday for filling tens of thousands of breast implants with industrial grade silicone. But he left the courthouse freely after lodging an appeal, and thousands of women will have to wait longer to discover if they will receive damages.
The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today, appealed to the remaining six countries outside the Chemical Weapons Convention to join the organization's quest to rid the world of chemical weapons. OPCW director general Ahmet Üzümcü said that there was no longer any “reasonable defense” for Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan not to ratify the convention after the recent international reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “It is my fervent hope that this award will spur on efforts to make the Chemical Weapons Convention a truly universal norm,” Mr. Üzümcü told the hundreds of Nobel Lecture attendees at Oslo City Hall. “We cannot allow the tragedy that befell the people of Ghouta [site of the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Syria] to be repeated.”
The film on the Queen frontman has found a lead and a director, Deadline.com reports. Ben Whishaw, who played Q in "Skyfall," will star in the Freddie Mercury biopic, with British filmmaker Dexter Fletcher at the helm. Fletcher is the actor-turned-director behind "Wild Bill" and "Sunshine on Leith," while Whishaw, in addition to "Skyfall," has starred in "Perfume" and "Cloud Atlas." The role of Freddie Mercury was originally destined to be played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
By Andrei Khalip LISBON (Reuters) - The Portuguese prefer not to talk, much less joke, about the 1932-1968 fascist dictatorship of Antonio Salazar - which may explain why it has taken a "superhero" to broach the topic in a big-screen comedy. The masked, moustachioed "Capitao Falcao" (Captain Falcon) is Salazar's most trusted henchman in a movie of the same name, tackling the "red menace" of communism and attempts to bring democracy to Portugal in the 1960s. The much-awaited release - in which the motorcycle-riding Falcao and his sidecar-borne sidekick the Partridge Kid fight bearded communists in red overalls armed with hammers and sickles - is due to hit Portuguese movie theatres next summer. Far from an ultra-conservative apologia, the film is a spoof designed to "exorcise some of our demons of the past by laughter", said director Joao Leitao, 32, whose crew describes Falcao as an "ultra-patriot and ultra-idiot".
The 2012 movie will have a sequel, in which Tom Cruise will play the former military man once again, Deadline.com announces. The sequel to "Jack Reacher" will be based on a different novel by Lee Child, the author who created the character in 1997, beginning a book series that now includes 18 volumes. Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures have selected the collection's most recent book, "Never Go Back," published in the US last September. In this latest installment in the Jack Reacher story, the character returns to his former military base in Virginia to meet Major Susan Turner.