Afghans negotiate with Taliban over Korean hostages

Afghan clerics and tribal elders are negotiating for the release of 22 South Korean hostages, who a Taliban spokesman said Thursday have been split into small groups and are being fed bread, yogurt and rice a week after their capture.

One of the original group of 23 abducted Koreans, a 42-year-old pastor, was found slain with multiple gunshots Wednesday. Authorities recovered the body of Bae Hyung-kyu in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province, where the South Koreans were seized on July 19.

3-star general faces demotion in death of Army ranger

WASHINGTON - Army Secretary Peter Geren is expected to recommend that a retired three-star general be demoted for his role in providing misleading information about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, military officials say, in what would be a stinging and rare rebuke.

Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, who headed Army special operations, is one of seven high-ranking Army officers expected to get official reprimands for making critical errors in reporting the circumstances of Tillman's friendly-fire shooting in Afghanistan in April 2004.

Bomb kills 25 in Shiite area of Baghdad

BAGHDAD - A parked car bomb exploded near a market in a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 74, police said.

It was the deadliest in a series of attacks nationwide that left at least 50 people dead.

The U.S. military also said five American troops had died in fighting this week - four northeast of the capital and one in Baghdad.

Raul Castro: Cuba avoided predicted collapse

CAMAGUEY, Cuba - Raul Castro said Thursday that Cuba has avoided the collapse the U.S. predicted when his brother Fidel fell ill a year ago, and signaled he was willing to talk with a new American administration after President Bush leaves power.

The acting president said the island suffered 'a hard blow' when Fidel relinquished power last year, but he focused more on the future while addressing tens of thousands of loyalists celebrating Cuba's Revolution Day.

Abbas hopes to reach agreement

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he hopes to reach a full peace deal with Israel within a year, after Israel's prime minister floated the idea of starting with a joint declaration on the contours of a Palestinian state.

Abbas spoke to reporters after telling an Israeli newspaper that President Bush promised him he would push hard to conclude a Mideast agreement before he leaves the White House in January 2009.

Jury rejects claims that blame Alabama company in deaths

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A jury Thursday rejected claims that Alabama-based Drummond coal was to blame for the killing of three union leaders in Colombia, a defeat for labor in a test of whether companies can be held responsible in U.S. courtrooms for their conduct overseas.

Jurors sided with Drummond Ltd. and the head of its Colombian operations, Augusto Jimenez, in ruling against a lawsuit filed by relatives and the union of the dead men, killed by paramilitary gunmen six years ago.

The jury of five men and five women began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon following two weeks of testimony in the civil lawsuit against Drummond Ltd. and Jiminez, its president in Colombia.

Relatives of the dead men and their union filed suit accusing Drummond of arranging the killing of the labor leaders by paramilitary forces in Colombia in 2001.

The company denied any involvement with the slayings or with militia forces in the South American nation, where it operates a huge surface mine.

Britain's prime minister to enter talks with Bush

WASHINGTON - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is coming to the United States this weekend for talks with President Bush at Bush's Maryland mountaintop resort, the White House announced Thursday.

'It's a pretty broad agenda,' press secretary Tony Snow, accompanying Bush on a trip to Philadelphia, told reporters.

Brown gets the homespun treatment that Bush often served up to Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, and other world leaders, including Russia's President Vladimir Putin.