US asks government

to host 300 Marines

The United States wants to send a 300-strong rotational force of U.S. Marines to Norway, a NATO member that shares a border with Russia in the Arctic.

Norwegian Defense Ministry spokesman Lars Gjemble said Wednesday that “a limited rotational U.S. Marine Corps presence in Norway is a possible option currently being considered.”

Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, the Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces in Europe and Africa, confirmed the plans in a statement, adding “it would be premature to discuss possible implementation of such an initiative” before the political process is completed. The rotational force would be based in Vaernes in central Norway.


Smoking chimp is star at newly opened zoo

PYONGYANG — Pyongyang’s newly opened zoo has a new star: Azalea, the smoking chimpanzee.

According to officials at the newly renovated zoo, which has become a favorite leisure spot in the North Korean capital since it re-opened in July, the 19-year-old female chimpanzee, whose name in Korean is “Dallae,” smokes about a pack a day. Dallae is short for azalea. They insist, however, she doesn’t inhale.

Though such a sight would draw outrage in many other locales, it seemed to delight visitors who roared with laughter on Wednesday as the chimpanzee, one of two at the zoo, sat puffing away as her trainer egged her on. The trainer also prompted her to touch her nose, bow thank you and do a simple dance.


Super typhoon slams northeastern coast

BINALONAN — Super Typhoon Haima slammed into the northeastern Philippine coast late Wednesday with ferocious winds and rain that rekindled fears and memories from the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Haima, which has sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts of up to 195 mph, made landfall at Penablanca town in Cagayan province shortly before midnight, weather officials said. Many villages lost power and intense winds tore tin roofs off houses.

Officials were concerned because the powerful typhoon struck at night and is expected to hit towns and cities amid power outages.

After Cagayan, Haima is forecast to blow across the mountainous province of Apayao and then lash Ilocos Norte province before exiting into the South China Sea Thursday morning.


Ex-Veracruz governor sought in graft probe

MEXICO CITY — Authorities are trying to arrest the embattled former governor of Veracruz state who is under investigation for alleged money laundering and participation in organized crime, but his whereabouts are unknown, Mexico’s attorney general said Wednesday.

Duarte stepped down as governor Oct. 12, a month and a half before his term was supposed to end. At the time he said he wanted to confront the corruption allegations, which he denies. The governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has stripped Duarte of his party rights.

Prosecutors are also hunting for former Sonora state Gov. Guillermo Padres, of the conservative National Action Party, on suspicion of corruption.


72-hour cease-fire

has officially begun

SANAA — A ceasefire has started in Yemen after warring parties agreed to hold a 72-hour truce.

Earlier this week, The United Nations envoy to Yemen announced that all parties to the conflict agreed to cease hostilities at 11:59 p.m. local time on Wednesday for an initial period of 72 hours that is subject to renewal.

The deal followed days of military escalation in northern Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition backed anti-Houthi rebel forces in their push in the rebels’ strondhold of Saada.

Wire reports