Cardinals impose media blackout 21 peacekeepers detained South Korea warns North Taliban kill 17 soldiers 'God particle' 'achingly close'
VATICAN CITY -- Cardinals attending closed-door discussions ahead of the conclave to elect the next pope imposed a media blackout Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of the popular daily press briefings by U.S. cardinals that had provided insights into the deliberations.
The official reason for the blackout was that some details of the secret discussions about the problems in the church appeared in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
But speculation mounted that the underlying aim of the blackout was to silence the Americans, who have been vocal in their calls for disclosure about allegations of corruption and dysfunction in the Holy See's governance before they enter the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.
UNITED NATIONS -- Armed fighters linked to the Syrian opposition detained 21 U.N. peacekeepers Wednesday in the increasingly volatile zone separating Israeli and Syrian troops on the Golan Heights.
The force, known as UNDOF, was established in 1974 following the 1973 Yom Kippur war to maintain a cease-fire between Israeli and Syrian forces.
A man identified as Abu Qaed al-Faleh, spokesman for the Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigades, said the group is holding the peacekeepers until Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces withdraw from Jamlah.
SEOUL, South Korea -- The South Korean military warned Wednesday that if provoked by North Korea, it would strike the North's "command leadership," in a sharp escalation of a war of words that hinted at an attack on a North Korean headquarters.
The warning came a day after the North Korean People's Army threatened to attack the United States and its South Korean ally with "lighter and smaller nukes" -- an outburst provoked by the U.N. Security Council's consideration of new sanctions.
"If North Korea attempts a provocation that threatens the lives and security of our people, our military will forcefully and decisively strike not only the origin of provocation and its supporting forces but also its command leadership," said Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, chief operations officer at the military's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents killed 17 Afghan National Army soldiers in northern Badakhshan province, according to Afghan officials Wednesday.
A supply convoy of Afghan soldiers was ambushed by the insurgents Sunday, with one soldier killed and 22 others captured in the rugged Warduj district, according to Abdul Marouf Rasikh, spokesman for the provincial governor in Badakhshan.
Negotiations using tribal elders as go-betweens were carried out and six of the soldiers were released alive, but 16 were executed by the insurgents.
WASHINGTON -- Physicists in Italy said Wednesday they are achingly close to concluding that what they found last year was the Higgs boson, the elusive "God particle."
The theorized subatomic particle would explain why matter has mass and has been called a missing cornerstone of physics.
Scientists are closer to being certain they found the crucial Higgs boson. But they want to be 99.9 percent positive, said Pauline Gagnon, a physicist with the European Center for Nuclear Research.
Last July scientists with the world's largest atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, announced finding a particle they described as Higgs-like, but wouldn't say it was conclusively the particle. Now thousands of checks show them even closer.
Gagnon said there is only one last thing the particle they found could also be: a graviton. That's another subatomic particle associated with gravitational fields, not mass.