South Korea

Japan and South Korea prepare to hold talks on 'comfort women'

Japanese and South Korean officials held preliminary talks Sunday about the topics to be discussed Monday by the two nations' foreign ministers on the issue of so-called comfort women. Japan intends to ask at the talks in Seoul for a definite promise that the issue will be finally and irrevocably settled. "Comfort women" were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. South Korea has asserted that the use of these women was an inhumane and illicit act.

Germany

Official seeks unannounced drug and alcohol testing for pilots

Germany's transport minister is advocating the introduction of unannounced alcohol, drug and medicine tests for pilots in his country. Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt's proposal follows the crash in March of a Germanwings jet that killed all 150 people aboard. Prosecutors believe the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane and say they found torn-up sick notes from doctors at his home.

Sweden

Once again, giant Yule goat burns

In what's become a Christmas tradition to some Swedes, a giant decorative goat made of straw was set ablaze and police arrested a 25-year-old man suspected of arson. The straw goat is a beloved Christmas symbol in the city of Gavle, in central Sweden. However, it's also become a tradition of sorts to burn it down.

China

Antiterrorism law approved

The legislature approved an antiterrorism law after months of international controversy, including criticism from human rights groups, business lobbies and President Obama. Critics had said the draft version of the law used a recklessly broad definition of terrorism, gave the government new censorship powers and authorized state access to sensitive commercial data.

California

Wildfire 60 percent contained

Crews have stopped the spread of a wind-whipped wildfire along the Southern California coast, reopened a scenic highway and lifted an evacuation order for dozens of homes. The 1,238-acre blaze in the foothills northwest of Ventura was 60 percent contained by nightfall Saturday and no homes burned, officials said.

news services