Washington, D.C.

Supreme Court backs whistleblower

The Supreme Court ruled that an air marshal fired for leaking information about plans that he felt endangered the public could seek protection under a federal law protecting whistleblowers. The court ruled 7 to 2 that Robert MacLean did not technically violate the law when he leaked to a reporter that the Transportation Security Administration planned to cut back on overnight trips for undercover marshals. MacLean was fired years later when it was discovered he was the source of the information.

Yemen

Deal reached in violent standoff

Yemen's state news agency said that the country's embattled president had reached an agreement with Shiite rebels to end a violent standoff in the capital. SABA said the agreement called for the armed Houthi rebels to pull out from around President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's home and the presidential palace, which they besieged Tuesday. The deal also calls for them to release a top aide to Hadi they had kidnapped in recent days.

Ukraine

President warns of escalating conflict

Ukraine is in "grave danger" of an escalation in its conflict against separatists, President Petro Poroshenko said as diplomats prepared to revive peace talks and NATO accused Russia of involvement in the fighting. "The situation can get worse in days," Poroshenko said. Additional Russian fighters and equipment crossing the border are putting pressure on Ukraine's army, he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed that both Ukrainian forces and rebels pull back their heavy weapons from a previously agreed-upon division line to reduce hostilities.

Japan

Efforts to free two hostages continue

Japan is doing all it can to free two hostages the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is threatening to kill unless it receives $200 million, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Abe returned to Tokyo from a six-day Middle East tour ahead of schedule and convened a Cabinet meeting soon after. "We are fighting against time, and we'll make an all-out effort," he said.

Italy

Looted antiquities returned by Switzerland

Authorities in Rome unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities illegally looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses. Police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, bronze statues and frescoes at $58 million. The works may go on public display before being returned to museums in southern Italy, where they originated.

China

Officials disciplined for Dec. 31 stampede

Shanghai announced that it fired four top officials and disciplined seven others over a New Year's Eve stampede that killed 36 people, saying some of the officials were attending an opulent banquet as the disaster unfolded.

News services