President Barack Obama told U.S. troops during a surprise holiday-season visit that they are making important progress in the war, and he pledged that Afghanistan would never again be a "safe haven for terrorists" who want to attack the United States. "You will succeed in your mission," Obama told more than 3,500 cheering troops in a huge hangar. "We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum. That's what you're doing. You're going on the offense, tired of playing defense."
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a surprising setback, the nation's unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent in November, a seven-month high, as hiring slowed across the economy. The report was a reminder that the economic recovery is proceeding more slowly and fitfully than many economists had expected. It is likely to push lawmakers before year's end to pass an extension of long-term unemployment benefits, which expired this week.
LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks struggled to stay online Friday as governments and hackers hounded the organization across the Internet, trying to deprive it of a direct line to the public. Like a fugitive moving from house to house, WikiLeaks was forced to change the name of its website after a U.S. company stopped directing traffic to wikileaks.org. French officials then moved to oust it from its new home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's budget deficit commission failed to garner enough support Friday to spur quick congressional action on its austere spending blueprint, but the plan will live on because a bipartisan majority on the panel embraced it. Commission members said that by winning over 11 of the 18 panelists, they had defied expectations. They said it showed that Washington is capable of having an "adult conversation" on a bipartisan basis about the painful choices required to avert a European-style debt crisis.
CUERNAVACA, Mexico (AP) — The Mexican army has detained a 14-year-old U.S. citizen suspected of acting as a killer for a drug cartel. The boy said he had been working for the cartel since he was 11. The much-rumored alleged young assassin nicknamed "El Ponchis" was captured late Thursday at the airport near Cuernavaca with his 16-year-old sister as they tried to catch a flight to Tijuana and flee the country, said an army official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top uniformed Army and Marines generals told a Senate panel Friday that letting gays serve openly in the military during wartime would be divisive and difficult, opposition that could undercut President Barack Obama's push to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" ban. The generals' doubts about the White House effort gave political ammunition to Arizona Sen. John McCain and other Senate Republicans trying to block Democratic efforts to overturn the 1993 law prohibiting gays in the military from acknowledging their sexual orientation.
HAIFA, Israel (AP) — European aircraft dumped tons of water over flames raging through tall trees in northern Israel as firefighters struggled for a second day Friday to contain the country's worst-ever forest fire, which has killed 41 people and displaced thousands. Authorities raised the possibility of arson, saying several small fires that broke out in the same general area but were quickly contained appeared to have been deliberately set.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists for the Food and Drug Administration said Friday a pill to treat obesity from Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. helped patients lose weight, though it didn't meet all the criteria set forth by the agency. The FDA's review, posted online Friday, also raised questions about the pill's effects on the heart, a perennial issue for weight loss drugs that have been plagued by safety issues.
NEW YORK (AP) — The eight-bedroom New York City mansion used in the 1972 mobster epic, "The Godfather," is for sale. The owners of the Staten Island home are asking $2.9 million — or an offer they can't refuse.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez pleaded guilty Friday to attempted assault to settle charges he attacked his girlfriend's father at Citi Field last season in a deal that spares him jail time but sends him to additional anger management classes. The 28-year-old reliever had been charged with assault after he was accused of grabbing Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath the team's ballpark and punching him in the face after an Aug. 11 game.