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Added August 16, 2010 with 10 photos
Today brought the indication that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would retire in 2011. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Gates expressed his desire to remove the burden of filling his role during an election year. With the rumor mill already buzzing, here are 10 possible candidates for the job.
Added August 16, 2010 with 12 photos
Added August 12, 2010 with 13 photos
Added August 11, 2010 with 16 photos
Flooding brought on by heavy rains in Pakistan is creating a humanitarian and national disaster not seen in generations, a U.N. official said.

Heavy monsoon rains are soaking parts of Asia, triggering massive floods throughout the region. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than 1,600 people have died and another 6 million are in need of emergency assistance.

Pakistani authorities said around 2.6 million acres -- around 4,000 square miles -- of crop land are under water and more than 300,000 homes were destroyed.

"Thousands of villages and towns in low-lying areas have not seen flooding on this scale in generations," Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, was quoted by the United Nations as saying.

OCHA said it received more than $44 million for flood relief, with another $91 million pledged. The U.S. Agency for International Development said it was committing another $20 million in financial assistance.

"Our response is consistent with our humanitarian values and our deep commitment to Pakistan," a statement from the U.S. State Department read.

Heavy rain and flooding have cut parts of Pakistan off from the rest of the country, though U.N. agencies said weather conditions have improved.

Added August 11, 2010 with 11 photos
Added August 08, 2010 with 10 photos
Added August 06, 2010 with 26 photos
MOSCOW, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Moscow was shrouded in smoke Friday as authorities warned of a possible radioactive cloud that could form if the wildfires raging in Russia spread to an area contaminated by the Chernobyl accident.

The images emerging from Moscow Friday look like they were taken from a doomsday movie: A giant smoke cloud has made the landmarks including the Kremlin disappear, with the few commuters who have to leave their houses or cars moving around wearing face masks. The others stay inside, desperate to evade the worst smog in the capital since the fires started more than a week ago. Pollution in Moscow, experts warned, is four times above safe levels.

"It's a serious reason not just for the aged, children and pregnant not to go out into the street but also for people in good health," Yevgenia Semutnikova, of the pollution watchdog Mosekomonitoring, told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper.

The relentlessly spreading wildfires have devastated several regions south and west of the capital, despite a major firefighting operation that includes nearly 200,000 people and dozens of planes.

The fires have destroyed residential houses, military facilities, a significant share of Russia's wheat crops and as of Friday claimed the lives 52 people, authorities said.

And it could get much worse: Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu warned Friday that the fires in the Bryansk region might send into the air radioactive contamination locked in soil devastated by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident of 1986.

"If a fire appears there, the radioactive particles could fly away with the smoke and a new polluted area could appear," he said.

Moscow has already ordered the evacuation of nuclear and explosive material from Sarov, a top-secret nuclear facility in the Nizhny Novgorod region, which is one of the worst hit. Authorities also ordered the removal of missiles and other defense equipment from a munitions depot at Alabinsk southwest of Moscow.

There were at least 589 fires raging Thursday over 196,000 hectares, up from 529 fires Tuesday and 460 fires Monday.

Russia's agriculture sector has been worst affected. Thousands of hectares of farmland have been burned. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Thursday banned wheat exports until the end of the year, sending grain prices on international markets through the roof.

The fires are aided by a severe draught and the hottest summer since temperature recordings began 130 years ago.

Moscow saw its fifth daily temperature record in August Friday as the mercury soared to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, beating a record of 95.7 degrees F registered on Aug. 6, 1920, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Meteorologists warn there won't be a cool down anytime soon. They predict the heat wave to continue next week and possibly beyond mid-August.

Added August 06, 2010 with 4 photos
GRAY SUMMIT, Mo., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A light-hearted summer trip for members of a Missouri high school band ended in a deadly crash when their buses got tangled in a chain-reaction crash.

Two people were killed Thursday morning on Interstate 44, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Dozens of people were injured, most of them members of the Red Regiment Band at John F. Hodge High School in St. James.

Band members had raised money for the annual outing to Six Flags. The crash occurred as they neared the park.

Officials with Climate Express in Washington, Mo., said one of their drivers, in a tractor with no trailer attached, slowed down for construction. A pickup truck rear-ended the tractor and was then hit by one of the two school buses.

The dead were identified as Jessica Brinker, 16, a member of the band, and Daniel Schatz, 19, the driver of the pickup. Schatz was a reserve quarterback at the University of Missouri-Columbia and son of a Republican candidate for Congress from Missouri.

Added August 05, 2010 with 19 photos
Added August 05, 2010 with 13 photos
Added August 04, 2010 with 11 photos
Added August 03, 2010 with 6 photos
Added August 02, 2010 with 10 photos
Israeli military officials denied an airstrike was responsible for an explosion at the Gaza home of a Hamas commander early Monday.

Palestinian media reports claimed an Israel air force jet fired a missile at the house; however, the Israeli army said there were no activities in the Gaza Strip at the time of the blast.

An Israeli security official told Israel Radio the explosion may have been the result of a work accident, that a bomb being prepared blew up prematurely.

The force of the blast demolished the home of the Hamas commander identified as Alaa al-Danaf, and five other surrounding buildings in Dir al-Ballah in central Gaza, the Maan news agency said.

Danaf a senior member of the Hamas military wing is also a bomb expert, Palestinian media reports said.

Adham Abu Salmiyya, a medical service worker, told the news agency a missile was fired from an Israeli Air Force jet and hit the home.

Added July 31, 2010 with 13 photos
Added July 30, 2010 with 12 photos
Added July 30, 2010 with 7 photos
Added July 29, 2010 with 16 photos
Added July 29, 2010 with 10 photos
Added July 28, 2010 with 13 photos
Added July 28, 2010 with 8 photos
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