Fun at the Mud Bowl
NORTH CONWAY, N.H. -- A player for the Mount Washington Valley Hogs dives for a sideline pass against the Nashua Mud Gumbys during the final game at the annual Mud Bowl. The game was Sunday.
Fire department honored
NEW YORK -- French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy honored the New York City Fire Department on Sunday for its bravery and service on Sept. 11 in a ceremony on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the attacks. Sarkozy, who is expected to be the ruling conservative party's candidate for president in spring elections, was in New York to pay tribute to the city's police and fire departments as part of the commemoration of the anniversary. During his public appearances, he has played down tensions between the United States and France, emphasizing that their shared grief after Sept. 11 united them.
Ex-captive arrives home
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- American journalist Paul Salopek returned home to New Mexico on Sunday, a day after being freed from prison in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region where he had been held for more than a month on espionage charges. The Chicago Tribune journalist, who lives in Columbus, N.M., wore a slight smile as he got off a plane at the Albuquerque airport and later got big hugs from his wife and one of his editors. Salopek, 44, was on assignment for National Geographic magazine when he was arrested Aug. 6 and accused of passing information illegally, writing "false news" and entering the African country without a visa.
Wildfires ravage West
RENO, Nev. -- Improved weather and more manpower helped fire crews hold the line against two fires burning more than 407 square miles in northeastern Nevada on Saturday. After highs in the 80s during the past several days, temperatures dipped Saturday into the 70s and humidity was low. "The cooler temperatures and moisture are contributing to the success of our suppression efforts," Joe Freeland, fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management said in Elko. The two fires had burned more than 261,000 acres, or 407 square miles, in Lander and Elko counties. A 150,270-acre blaze was contained late Saturday, and a 110,738-acre fire was 75 percent contained with full containment expected today. On Saturday, lower temperatures, higher humidity and even some light rain showers in the Idaho Rockies gave crews a chance to gain ground on several fires and keep new lightning-sparked starts from growing.
Major moved to Germany
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A U.S. Air Force major who went missing for three days arrived at a U.S. military hospital in Germany on Sunday, and a senior Kyrgyz police official said that her departure "strongly complicates" the probe into her disappearance. Maj. Jill Metzger vanished Tuesday in Bishkek, the capital of this former Soviet republic, while shopping for souvenirs at a department store before a scheduled departure from the country Friday. A massive search involving Kyrgyz and U.S. investigators came up empty until late Friday, when police said Metzger knocked on the door of a house in Kant, about 22 miles from the capital, and said she had been abducted. The 33-year-old officer was taken out of Kyrgyzstan on Saturday. Metzger was married to Air Force Capt. Joshua Mayo on April 8 and she was deployed 10 days later. The couple had been set to leave Sept. 24 for a delayed honeymoon, her father said.
Tonga's king dies at 88
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga -- Tonga's King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, a towering figure in the tiny Pacific Island nation for four decades, has died in a New Zealand hospital, the tiny nation said Monday. He was 88. His death ended one of the world's longest reigns by a monarch in modern times. He ruled 41 years. King Toupou IV died after a long, unspecified illness in a hospital where he had spent most of the past several months, plunging the remote country into a mourning period expected to last for months, the Tongan government said. His son Crown Prince Tupouto immediately ascended the throne. The new monarch, King Taufa'ahau Tupou V, will take the vows today, and his coronation will occur later, Tonga's Chief Justice Tony Ford said, according to New Zealand's National Radio. The end of Tupou IV's reign is likely to fuel a push for more democracy in the near-feudal kingdom. The royal family has ruled with absolute power since tribal groups on more than 170 Polynesian islands united into a single kingdom in 1845.