E.U. leaders enter battle over budget

The leaders of Britain and France staked out starkly different visions of Europe's future as talks began in Brussels, Belgium, on how much the European Union should be allowed to spend, setting the stage for a long, divisive and possibly inconclusive summit. While British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to keep payments into E.U. coffers down as low as possible, French President Francois Hollande called for farm subsidies and development programs for poorer nations. With each of the 27 nations having the power of veto over the 2014-2020 budget, the summit talks could stretch over the weekend, perhaps without result.


Gbagbo's wife accused of 'inhuman acts'

Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivory Coast strongman, played a central role in postelection violence that cost the lives of thousands of people in 2010 and 2011, the International Criminal Court said in a newly unsealed warrant for her arrest. Like her husband, who has been imprisoned at The Hague since November 2011, Gbagbo is accused of crimes against humanity in the warrant, which cites her part in the planned murders "and other inhuman acts" that took place after Laurent Gbagbo's defeat in a 2010 election. It took French helicopter strikes to finally drive Gbagbo from power.


BBC appoints new leader amid scandal

Seeking to overcome one of its worst crises in decades, the British Broadcasting Corp. said that it had appointed Tony Hall, 61, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, to be its new director general, replacing George Entwistle who resigned amid a burgeoning scandal over BBC's reporting of sexual abuse. Hall, a former director of news at the BBC, is to take up his position in March. Entwistle resigned Nov. 10 after disclosures that BBC program "Newsnight" had wrongly implicated a former Conservative politician in allegations of sexual abuse. The same program had canceled an investigation a year ago into allegations of sexual abuse of hundreds of minors by TV host Jimmy Savile, who died in October 2011.


Rebels strengthen hold in country's east

Syrian rebels strengthened their hold on an oil-rich province bordering Iraq, activists said, capturing a key military base that was considered one of the last bastions for President Bashar Assad's loyalists in the strategic region. The reported fall of the Mayadeen base, along with its stockpiles of artillery, caps a series of advances in Deir el-Zour. Violence also was reported in opposition strongholds around the capital, Damascus, and in the northern city of Aleppo, where government aircraft damaged one of the rebels' key field hospitals.


Rebels, military battle over eastern town

Congolese soldiers and rebels battled over the eastern town of Sake, forcing thousands of people to flee as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite international pressure. Meanwhile, the leader of the M23 rebel group headed to neighboring Uganda where emergency talks were held this week between the presidents of Congo and its neighbors Uganda and Rwanda. President Joseph Kabila said he was willing to talk with rebels. There are fears that the rebels' advance could spark a new regional war in a highly volatile corner of the world.


Postal Service tests same-day delivery

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is moving to start a premium service for the Internet shopper seeking same-day delivery. Teaming up with retailers, the post office will begin the service in San Francisco on Dec. 12. If things run smoothly, the program will expand next year to cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York. The price is expected to be about $10.


At least 100 cars collide amid fog

Two people died and more than 80 people were hurt when at least 100 vehicles collided in southeast Texas in a pileup that left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the wreckage. It wasn't immediately clear how the pileup began, but Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Rod Carroll said the fog was so thick that deputies didn't immediately realize they were dealing with multiple accidents. "It is catastrophic," Carroll said. "I've got cars on top of cars." Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Stephanie Davis said that two people in an SUV died. Carroll said uninjured drivers tried to help. He said, "The foremost thing in this holiday season is how other travelers were helping us when we were overwhelmed, sitting and holding, putting pressure on people that were injured."