Nation and world briefly: Last of 3,200 workers freed from African mine

CARLETONVILLE, South Africa — The last of 3,200 gold miners trapped for more than 24 hours in a deep shaft were brought safely to the surface Thursday night, ending one of South Africa’s biggest rescue operations, mining officials said. The final workers emerged just after 9 p.m., singing and dancing, according to the Harmony Gold Mining Co. No casualties were reported. A pressurized air pipe snapped at the mine near Johannesburg and tumbled down a shaft Wednesday, causing extensive damage to an elevator and stranding the miners.

Japan: Satellite orbits the moon

Japan has placed a satellite in orbit around the moon for the first time, officials said today, in a major space breakthrough for the Asian nation. The $279 million Selenological and Engineering Explorer is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program in terms of overall scope and ambition. The mission involves placing the main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 60 miles and deploying two smaller satellites in polar orbits, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

France: CIA warns of attacks

The CIA has warned its counterparts in Europe of the possibility of terror attacks in several countries, with Paris’ sewage system among the suggested targets, a French official said Thursday. The agency warned that al-Qaida agents may be planning suicide or bombing attacks in London and cities in Italy, France and Germany, Le Monde newspaper reported. It said the CIA had warned of the possibility of attacks taking place this month.

Spain: Basque activists held

Spanish police detained more than 20 senior members of an outlawed Basque party that is considered to be the political wing of the armed separatist group ETA on Thursday, officials said. The Batasuna party officials were arrested in Segura on the order of Spain’s National Court, a police official said. It was unclear what — if any — charges they would face, but the party has been outlawed since 2003 and is barred from organizing political activities.

Austrian: Holocaust denier

A right-wing Austrian author convicted of neo-Nazi activities was extradited from Spain on Thursday and will face charges that he denied the existence of the Holocaust and claimed the Nazis never used gas chambers. Gerd Honsik, 65, was flown from Madrid to Vienna and would be required to serve an 18-month prison sentence stemming from his 1992 conviction, public broadcaster ORF said. Among his books is one titled “Absolution of Hitler.”

D.C.: Embassy behind schedule

The opening of a mammoth, $600 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which had been planned for last month, has now been delayed well into next year, U.S. officials said Thursday. The Vatican-size compound, which will be the world’s largest diplomatic mission, has been beset by construction problems. “They are substantially behind at this point,” and it would be surprising if any offices or living quarters could be occupied before the end of the year, an official said. The official also said the delays would have no direct cost to taxpayers because the contractor had agreed to deliver for a set $592 million price.

Arizona: Loaded gun at airport

A loaded handgun was found in an airport men’s room beyond a security checkpoint, leading to a brief evacuation of the concourse, federal officials said. Authorities were investigating who owned the gun and how it got in the men’s room trash can at Tucson International Airport, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said. Nearly 300 passengers were evacuated from the concourse for about a half-hour while the area was searched by TSA and airport security officers with canine teams, officials said.

Pennsylvania: Two guards killed

A robber shot and killed two armored-car guards servicing an ATM outside a bank early Thursday, authorities said. One man fatally shot the Loomis guards shortly after 8 a.m. outside a Wachovia bank in northeast Philadelphia, police said. A surveillance tape showed the robber getting out of his car and putting on gloves before he shot one guard who was removing cash from the machine, police said. The gunman then went around the armored car and shot the second guard as the victim tried to unholster his gun, police said.

New Jersey: Child porn arrests

More than three dozen people in New Jersey have been charged with sending child rape photos and videos over the Internet, officials said Thursday. The arrests cap a two-month investigation in which a state police technology investigations unit combed the Internet for New Jerseyans who distributed such images. Forty-one people were arrested. Many of the suspects were members of popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, authorities said.

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