PARIS — Armed robbers wearing women’s wigs and clothing made off with diamond rings, gem-studded bracelets and other jewelry worth $108 million from a Harry Winston boutique in Paris, in one of the world’s largest jewel heists. As Christmas shoppers strolled outside, the gunmen forced store employees to strip rings, necklaces and earrings from window displays and pull more out of safes, the Paris prosecutor’s office, said Friday. The brazen robbery early Thursday evening took place in the presence of security guards and security cameras in one of Paris’ toniest shopping locales, just steps away from the tourist-filled Champs-ElysDees.
Canada: 100 dead in Afghanistan
Canada’s death toll in Afghanistan surpassed the grim milestone of 100 on Friday after a roadside bomb killed three soldiers. Canada’s top military commander in Afghanistan, said the soldiers were riding in an armored vehicle on patrol west of Kandahar city when they struck an improvised explosive device. Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed during his September election campaign to withdraw the 2,500 Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2011. He has said Canadians do not have the appetite to keep their soldiers in Afghanistan longer.
Argentina: Rescue in Antarctica
The Chilean navy rescued all 122 people, including 12 Americans, from a leaking cruise ship off Antarctica on Friday. The Chilean ship Aquiles was transporting the 89 passengers and 33 crew members to the Presidente Frei naval base in Antarctica. The Panamanian-flagged Ushuaia cruise ship sent out alarms midday Thursday after it started leaking fuel and taking on water, but it never appeared to be in danger of sinking. A rock damaged the hull as the Ushuaia passed through the Gerlache Strait, officials said.
Japan: New rules for citizenship
Japan approved a law Friday that will grant citizenship to all children born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers who acknowledge them, regardless of the nationality of their mothers. All children of Japanese women are automatically granted citizenship. Before Friday’s revision, however, those born out of wedlock to foreign women could claim citizenship only if their Japanese fathers acknowledged paternity before the birth or later married their mothers.
Russia: Aircraft carrier heads out
Russia’s sole aircraft carrier and several accompanying ships set off Friday for combat training in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean just as another squadron was plying the Caribbean in a show of the Kremlin’s global reach. A navy spokesman said the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier, the Admiral Levchenko destroyer and two support ships sailed from the Northern Fleet’s main base of Severomorsk, on the Barents Sea near Finland, on a tour that will last several months. He said the ships will “perform tasks in line with combat training plans” and visit several ports.
Red star goes red, white and blue
After more than 90 years, the Russian stars will no longer be all red. They’ll be red, white and blue. The Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament voted 389-2 Friday to replace Soviet-era red stars on military aircraft with ones bearing the three colors of the Russian national flag. The five-pointed red stars have adorned the planes since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. The State Duma made the move even though the red star was officially restored as a military symbol and brought back to the military’s parade banners in 2002.
D.C.: Anti-missile test a success
The Defense Department said Friday it shot down a missile in a simulated attack designed to test a proposed shield against strikes by long-range ballistic missiles from nations such as North Korea. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency used an interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to knock down a missile meant to simulate the speed and trajectory of a North Korean attack. It struck the target missile around 3:30 p.m., shortly after the target was launched from a location in Alaska. The Navy tracked the target from one of its ballistic missile ships.
Sen. Kennedy gives up one post
Sen. Edward Kennedy said Friday he is stepping down from his Senate Judiciary Committee post to focus on achieving a breakthrough on health care reform. The Massachusetts Democrat said he was hopeful of achieving progress with President-elect Barack Obama taking over the White House. Kennedy, who is fighting a malignant brain tumor, is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and was a strong Obama backer during the 2008 campaign.
Caroline Kennedy eyes Senate
Caroline Kennedy is interested in the Senate seat that would open once Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state, according to a close relative who says the powerful Kennedy clan is fully behind her rising to the office previously held by her uncle. “I know she’s interested,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Friday. “She spent a lot of her life balancing public service with obligations to her family. Now her children are grown, and she is ready to move onto a bigger stage.” New York Gov. David Paterson will appoint someone to fill the seat for two years.
From Herald news services