BY Wire reports
Thursday, February 14, 2013
2/14/13 at 3:19 AM
Middlesboro, Ky.: Pastor wants confiscated snakes returned to him
An eastern Kentucky pastor wants Tennessee wildlife officials to return five venomous snakes confiscated in Knoxville.
Gregory Coots, who's known as Jamie Coots, is pastor of at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro. Coots handles the snakes as part of worship services.
He told WYMT-TV in Hazard, Ky., he bought three rattlesnakes and two copperheads in Alabama on Jan. 31. While he was driving through Knoxville, police stopped Coots for dark window tinting and saw the cages containing the snakes. A state wildlife officer confiscated them.
The District Attorney's office in Knoxville said Coots is charged with illegally possessing and transporting wildlife.
Coots was similarly charged in Kentucky in 2008. He said he now has a permit for snakes in Kentucky.
London: U.K. sets deal to bring Afghan equipment home
Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Wednesday the U.K. has struck a deal with Uzbekistan to help bring back $6.2 billion worth of equipment from Afghanistan as operations drawn down.
Britain has said U.K. troop numbers in Afghanistan will fall from 9,000 currently to about 5,200 by the end of 2013.
Hammond told lawmakers that the U.K. has struck a deal with Uzbekistan because the only current transit route for equipment - through Pakistan - "would be hard pressed to meet the capacity demands" of the drawdown, which for Britain involves bringing home about 2,500 vehicles and 6,500 storage containers.
Beirut: Deadly fighting rages near airport in Aleppo
Syrian rebels knocked down army defenses and moved in on the country's second largest airport Wednesday, reportedly killing more than 40 soldiers and bringing them closer to what could be their biggest conquest since the beginning of the civil war.
Control of Aleppo international airport and a military air base next to it would be a huge strategic shift for Syria's northeastern region, giving the opposition a potential air hub enabling aid and other flights.
Still, activists said it could be days before the rebels would be able to push their way into the airport, 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the contested city center, and even then, it was unclear whether they would be able to retain control of the sprawling facility for long.
The country's air space is firmly controlled by the government, which uses its warplanes indiscriminately to bomb rebel strongholds.
The advance on the airport, which stopped handling any flights weeks ago because of the fighting, comes on the heels of other strategic gains. Rebels this week captured the nation's largest dam and a military base near Aleppo. They have also brought the fight closer to Damascus, seat of President Bashar Assad's regime, moving to within a few miles from the heart of the city.
Kabul, Afghanistan: NATO airstrike kills 10 civilians, Afghans say
A NATO airstrike struck two houses, killing 10 Afghan civilians and four insurgents near the Pakistani border, officials said Wednesday. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, the latest in a series of civilian casualty reports that have raised tensions between the Afghans and the U.S.-led foreign forces.
The attack occurred late Tuesday during a joint NATO-Afghan operation in the Shigal district of Kunar province, a lawmaker from the area said. The U.S.-led military alliance in Kabul said only that it was looking into the reports.
Austin, Texas: LBJ, Lady Bird courtship love letters released
The collection of nearly 100 love letters written between Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson during their 2 1/2-month courtship in 1934 is being made available to the public for the first time beginning on Valentine's Day.
The letters at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas show an impatient Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, eager to marry 21-year-old Claudia Alta Taylor. She was known as "Bird," was a recent graduate of the university, and the future president had asked her to marry him a day after they met in September 1934. She wrote she loved him but "don't know how everlastingly."
They would tie the knot 10 weeks later in San Antonio and were married for 39 years. LBJ died in 1973, Lady Bird in 2007.
Ethnic Kachin children eat a meal at a camp for internally displaced people in Myitkyina, Myanmar, on Wednesday. Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi offered to help negotiate an end to conflicts between the government and ethnic minority groups, a challenge the country's president called essential to building democracy. GEMUNU AMARASINGHE/Associated Press