As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits down with his Russian counterpart Friday for a second day of talks about a possible diplomatic solution on Syria, he faces a proverbial standoff with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Imagine two men facing one another holding guns. One says: You drop yours first, then I'll drop mine. The second answers: No, you drop yours first.
Al-Assad demanded on Thursday that the United States call off any potential strike on Syrian government forces before he gives up his large chemical weapons arsenal.
But Kerry made it clear that the threat of a U.S. military strike remains on the table, if Syria does not hand over its stockpiles.
More than 30 arrests have been made in the diamond heist last February at Brussels Airport and some of the stolen diamonds have been recovered, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office said Wednesday.
Police arrested 24 people Tuesday in Belgium, eight in Switzerland, and one in France, said Jean-Marc Meilleur, the office's spokesman. Police in Belgium raided about 40 houses in Brussels on Wednesday.
Authorities discovered some of the stolen diamonds in Switzerland, and money in Belgium, Switzerland and France, Meilleur said. Luxury cars were seized in Belgium, he said.FULL STORY
[Updated at 9:14 a.m. ET] A gunman killed two people and himself, and injured seven other people, in Wednesday's shooting at a lumber plant near Lucerne, Switzerland, local media reported.
[Updated at 6:34 a.m. ET] Several people were killed in a shooting at a wood manufacturing factory on the outskirts of the central Swiss city of Lucerne on Wednesday, police said. Several others were wounded.
Rescuers flew four critically wounded people to two area hospitals, according to air rescue spokeswoman Karine Hoerhager.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Several protests stemming at least in part from an anti-Islam film produced in the United States are unfolding outside U.S. embassies around the world. Thursday's protests follow ones in Cairo and Benghazi and an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya on Tuesday night that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others. Follow along with the live blog below for all of the developments around the world.
[Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said the U.S. government should bring to justice those behind the anti-Islam film.
Khameini on Thursday called the making of the film a "criminal act," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. His comments came the same day university students protested outside the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, blaming the United States and Israel for the American-made film. The Swiss Embassy represents U.S. interests in Iran.
[Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET] At least one person has been arrested in the killings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Libya's prime minister said Thursday.
One person was arrested early Thursday in Benghazi, Mustafa Abushagur said on CNNI's "Amanpour." "Three or four are currently being pursued," he said.
Earlier, the Libyan state-run news agency LANA said more than one person had been arrested. It cited the deputy minister of interior in the eastern region, Wanees al-Sharif, as its source.
The announcement came as the United States is struggling to determine whether a militant group planned the attack that killed the four Americans, even as warships head toward the north African country as part of a mission to hunt down and punish the killers.
[Updated at 3:11 p.m. ET] Four people were killed Thursday during protests near the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, according to two Yemeni security officials. They reported 11 injuries among protesters.
Scientists said Wednesday that they had discovered a new particle whose characteristics match those of the Higgs boson, the most sought-after particle in physics, which could help unlock some of the universe's deepest secrets.
"We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," said Rolf Heuer, the director general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which has been carrying out experiments in search of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator.
"The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe," said Heuer.
Announcements by scientists about their analysis of data generated by trillions of particle collisions in the LHC drew avid applause at an eagerly awaited seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
The Swiss presentation comes after researchers in Illinois said earlier this week scientists that they had crept closer to proving that the particle exists but had been unable to reach a definitive conclusion.
Finding the Higgs boson would help explain the origin of mass, one of the open questions in physicists' current understanding of the way the universe works.
The particle has been so difficult to pin down that the physicist Leon Lederman reportedly wanted to call his book "The Goddamn Particle." But he truncated that epithet to "The God Particle," which may have helped elevate the particle's allure in popular culture.
Experts say finding the elusive particle would rank as one of the top scientific achievements of the past 50 years.
Two dolphins at a Swiss theme park died after ingesting a heroin substitute around the same time as a weekend rave at the park last November, according to reports from Switzerland.
A toxicology report from a forensics institute in St. Gallen, Switzerland, showed tests found traces of the heroin substitute buprenorphine in the dolphins' urine, according to a report in London's Daily Mail online, citing Swiss media reports.
The dolphins died within five days of each other in November, after the area near their pool in the Connyland marine park had been rented out for a weekend rave, according to the reports.
Cornelis van Elk, a Dutch marine biologist, said the drugs turn off a part of the dolphins' brains which tells them when to surface for air.
Connyland keeper Nadja Gasser told local media how one of the dolphins, named Chelmers, died, according to the Daily Mail.
"He was drifting under the water and was clearly in trouble and so we jumped into the water.
"We tried to hold him. He was shaking all over and was foaming at the mouth.
"Eventually we got him out of the water. His tongue was hanging out. He could hardly breathe.
"He was given adrenalin, but it didn't help.
"After an hour the dolphin died."
In a report in the Daily Mail shortly after the rave, wildlife experts said noise from the event could have stressed the animals' immune systems and led to the death of the first dolphin, Shadow.
A bus crashed into a tunnel in Switzerland, killing 28 people, including 22 children, Tuesday night, the country's national news agency said.
Another 24 children were injured in the wreck, the SDA-ATS news agency said.
The bus, registered in Belgium, was headed toward Sion, the capital of the Swiss canton of Valais, when it slammed into a highway tunnel in Sierre in the same canton.
Switzerland has 26 cantons, or districts.
No additional information was immediately available about the crash.FULL STORY
A trader accused of fraud over a $2.3 billion loss in unauthorized trading reported by Swiss banking giant UBS pleaded not guilty in a London court Monday.
The trader, Kwaku Adoboli, was ordered held in custody and his trial was scheduled to begin September 3.
Adoboli faces a charge of fraud by abuse of position between January and September 2011, and he also faces two counts of false accounting.
His lawyer said he was "sorry beyond words" in a previous court appearance in September.
The far-right Swiss People's Party put up shocking anti-immigration posters four years ago and took the largest share of the vote in the country's modern history. So they're doing it again this time around.
A poster in the German-speaking part of the country shows black boots marching over the Swiss flag.
One in French-speaking areas shows a condom plastered over the European Union's banner, proclaiming "Swiss protection against the European virus."
And the scare tactics seem to be working.
The anti-immigrant party looks set to repeat its 2007 election victory on Sunday, with opinion polls putting it in first place as voters cast ballots for the federal parliament.
A Eurobarometer survey this month put the party, known as the SVP, far ahead of its main rivals, with just under a third of people saying they would back it.
The Social Democrats (SP) are in second place, with about 20% support, followed by the FDP Liberals, the Christian Democrats and the Greens.
The People's Party won the biggest election victory in Swiss history in 2007, after a controversial campaign that blamed foreigners for much of the country's crime.
The nationalist party rode a wave of anti-immigration sentiment to gain 29% of the vote - about the same that it is getting in opinion polls this month.
Switzerland's political system requires consensus, making radical government policies unlikely, regardless of the election results.
But anti-immigrant sentiment helped fuel a 2009 ban on the construction of minarets, the towers usually built next to mosques for the traditional call to prayer.FULL STORY
A bank trader accused of fraud in connection with a $2.3 billion loss in unauthorized trading reported by Swiss giant UBS is "sorry beyond words," his lawyer said Thursday.
Kwaku Adoboli was remanded in custody until October 20 by the City of London Magistrates' Court.
In a statement to the court, lawyer Patrick Gibbs said his client was "sorry beyond words for what happened here."FULL STORY
A documentary about fantasy writer Sir Terry Pratchett's quest to examine whether assisted suicide is the right decision for him as he battles Alzheimer's has sparked widespread debate online about the controversial issue and how it was portrayed.
The documentary, called "Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die" has been described as "harrowing," "disgraceful" "powerful," a romanticizing of a "conveyor belt towards death," "heartbreaking" and a "slippery moral slope."
The words, of course, depend on what side of the issue you fall. Still, by most accounts, the documentary aired by the BBC in the U.K. was raw, real and intense.
And so are the reactions to it - particularly regarding a scene towards the end of the film in which hotel owner and millionaire Peter Smedley, who suffers from motor neuron disease, ends his own life.
The film shows Smedley, after consulting with his family, making the decision that he will end his life. In a blue house in Switzerland, with his wife by his side and the help of the Swiss group Dignitas, he says his final goodbyes, drinks two drug concoctions, and quickly goes into a deep sleep, snoring, before he stops breathing.
Most who watched the show knew they were going to see a man die - it had been publicized.
"No one was going to be tuning in expecting a barrel of laughs," Metro U.K. staffer Keith Watson wrote. "We were about to watch a man die."
"We knew that if we wanted this film to be entirely honest about assisted dying then it was important to show the whole process, including the death itself," director Charlie Russell wrote in a blog on the BBC website.
"When Peter, the man who dies on-camera in the film, agreed to let us record his end, the challenge was to film it respectfully, sensitively, but most of all truthfully."
Zurich overwhelmingly supports a person's right to commit suicide, even if the person is a foreigner who travels to the Land of the Alps' largest city to get help dying.
So say the results of a recent ballot in which the Swiss were asked whether they approved of a ban on assisted suicide and on so-called suicide tourism, according to media reports.
Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide - so long as it's performed by a non-physician with no vested interest in the death - since 1941, but two recent phenomena have sparked debate over the issue, Reuters reported: There has been a spike in the number of foreigners committing suicide, and a recent study showed many people seeking assisted suicides are not terminally ill.
Egypt – The uprising in the African nation continued Friday as police fired tear gas into crowds in an attempt to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters. Vans filled with riot police circled Cairo neighborhoods before Friday afternoon prayers, and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei was placed under house arrest, a high-level security source told CNN on Friday. Keep up with minute-by-minute action right here at "This Just In."
Meanwhile, in other nations, protests broke out in the Jordanian capital, and an opposition party in Albania pushed for more protests in Tirana. Analysts said the widespread protests are part of a ripple effect that began last month in Tunisia.
Challenger – It’s been a quarter-century since the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into takeoff, killing the six astronauts on aboard and teacher Christa McAuliffe. The disaster grounded the space shuttle program for three years. NASA Television will air a remembrance service honoring the crew, and June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Cmdr. Dick Scobee, will be among the speakers. CNN will also talk to a former neighbor and Sunday school pupil of McAuliffe’s, who says McAuliffe inspired her to become a teacher. Be sure to check out CNN’s full coverage page, Remembering Challenger.
Davos – World leaders, economists and business people continued gathering Friday in Switzerland to discuss the global economy. The theme this year is “The New Reality.” Last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos focused on financial reform. CNN will explore whether reforms have made the global banking system more stable.
This year, a “little explosion” at a hotel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s defense of the euro already have made headlines.
Winter weather – A winter storm is causing power outages and airport runway closings in the Northeast. New York and Boston are expected to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow before it's done, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said. Both the District of Columbia government and district public schools will be closed all day Thursday.
Financial crisis final report – The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will release its report on the causes of the financial and economic crisis. The report will be delivered to the president and Congress and will be available to the public on the commission's website, through the Government Printing Office, and as a paperback and an e-book. The commission reviewed millions of pages of documents, interviewed more than 700 witnesses, and held 19 days of public hearings in New York, Washington and communities across the country.
Senate Tea Party Caucus – Tea Party activists from around the country will gather on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a question-and-answer session with three senators at the first official gathering of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. "What we're trying to do, with Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and I'm sure eventually others, is to make sure all the activists know that we're still listening," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, told CNN. "We want to get their input, we want to keep them up to date with what we're doing. So it's more a forum than a caucus to keep that interaction going." DeMint, along with Paul of Kentucky and Lee of Utah, are currently the only three members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus.
State of homeland security – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to officially announce Thursday that the color-coded threat alert system in place for nine years will go away in April. It will be replaced by a new system, which Napolitano will unveil at what the department is calling the "State of America's Homeland Security address" at George Washington University.
Uprising in Egypt – Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is returning Thursday to the country, which has been convulsed by unprecedented protests for the past two days. ElBaradei will participate in protests himself on Friday, calling on longtime President Hosni Mubarak to retire, ElBaradei's brother says. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for its followers to demonstrate after Friday prayers – the first time in the current round of unrest that the largest opposition bloc has told supporters to go out on the streets.
Davos World Economic Forum – CEOs, world leaders and economists from all over the world are gathered in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the future of the global economy. This year's theme is "The New Reality." Have CEOs changed the way they run their companies? Is the new reality that growth will be stuck in single digits? A forum spokesman said "a small firework went off at the back entrance" of the host hotel Thursday, causing a brief scare. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to attend a party Thursday night at the hotel, one of the most prestigious in Davos.
Challenger anniversary events – The 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger accident is Friday, and several events are planned for Thursday:
NASA remembers the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, and all those who have given their lives for the sake of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at 10 a.m.
A wreath will be laid at 10:30 a.m. at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy Center director and former astronaut Bob Cabana will take part in the ceremony.
At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Center Director Michael L. Coats will be joined by astronaut family members to lay a wreath at the Astronaut Memorial Tree Grove at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says she has a good reason for not attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Friday’s ceremony coincides with Human Rights Day, and Pillay is scheduled to host a meeting with human rights defenders in Switzerland, spokesman Richard Colville told Foreign Policy.
Yang Jianli, another Chinese dissident who represents Liu before the Nobel committee, isn’t buying it. He called Pillay's decision not to attend “a clear and unequivocal abdication of her responsibilities as high commissioner.”
He also blasted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for failing to raise Liu’s case when he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao shortly after the Nobel committee’s announcement.
Though Yang claims that the U.N. is buckling to pressure from China, Colville said Pillay – a South African lawyer who got her start defending opponents of apartheid – simply couldn’t bow out of the Swiss event.
According to BBC, 19 countries including China will not attend the ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Forty-four will attend.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told the BBC that China would not change because of “interference by a few clowns.”
China has mounted a campaign to dissuade nations from attending the ceremony and said through its state-run media that 100 countries back its stance. Xinhua further cited a professor as saying that Liu was a “Chinese criminal [who] challenged China’s judicial authority and interfered in China’s internal affairs."
The Nobel Committee, of course, sees it differently and applauds Liu’s calls for multi-party democracy and human rights reforms.
In other developments this week: Liu’s lawyers said they were prevented from appealing their client’s charges; they say they were also prevented from visiting Liu’s wife, who has been under house arrest since the Nobel announcement; and an Australian-based Chinese dissident was detained in Shanghai en route to Oslo, The Australian reported.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that he has authorized "significant" actions related to the criminal investigation of WikiLeaks as the website faces increasing pressure worldwide for publishing sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.
"National security of the United States has been put at risk," Holder said. "The lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk. The American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that I believe are arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can."
His comments came as a Swiss bank announced that it had closed the account of Julian Assange, the website's founder, dealing a second financial blow to the site in a matter of days.
Thousands of watches, CDs and DVDs were crushed by a steamroller Thursday as part of a Swiss campaign against counterfeit goods.
The smashing of the counterfeit goods at an airport in Bern, Switzerland, highlighted Stop Piracy Day 2010 and launched the Swiss Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Platform’s “Piracy is Cruel” campaign.
The public-private Swiss group is trying to educate consumers on how purchasing goods they know to be counterfeit puts themselves and others in danger.
“Consumers who use or buy counterfeit goods also care too little about the consequences of their actions,” the group said in a press release.