Romania

Cameron broaches limits in benefits

British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the contentious issue of limiting welfare benefits to Eastern Europeans living in Britain during a visit to Bucharest. He is seeking to cut benefits as part of efforts to renegotiate his country's relationship with the European Union. Among other groups, the plan would cover the hundreds of thousands of Poles and the 175,000 Romanians now in Britain.

Afghanistan

Dozens dead in hostage siege

A hostage siege by Taliban attackers near the Kandahar Airfield military base stretched into a second day, leaving dozens dead. And in neighboring Helmand Province, the insurgents were reported to have overrun a major district. After 21 hours of fighting, at least two attackers were still at large.

China

Smog brings Beijing to a standstill

Beijing residents stayed indoors, schools were closed and limits on cars, factories and construction sites kept pollution from spiking even higher on the second of three days of restrictions triggered by the city's first red alert for smog. Cars with even-numbered license plates were kept off roads, and schools and construction sites were shuttered.

Haiti

Election impasse creates concern

Nearly two months after the balloting and three weeks before the scheduled Dec. 27 presidential runoff, Haiti remains at an impasse. Allegations of ballot tampering and fraudulent tabulations have fanned a widening chorus of doubt about the credibility of the results. Calls for transparency have expanded from the 54 presidential candidates to human rights organizations.

Maryland

Officer testifies in Freddie Gray case

Baltimore police officer William Porter took the witness stand in his own defense, providing jurors his account of the day Freddie Gray was fatally injured and casting himself as a well-meaning cop who doing his job the best way he knew how. Porter told jurors that he did not call a medic for Gray because Gray "was unable to give me any reason for why he needed one," and that he did not buckle the suspect into a police van because he feared he would have to let Gray too close to his gun.

California

Lawsuit challenges Venice curfew

Citing the right to public commons stretching back to the Roman Empire, activists in Los Angeles' Venice neighborhood filed suit to strike down the city's 27-year-old overnight beach curfew. The lawsuit contends that the ban on sleeping, strolling, surfing or fishing on the sands was adopted in defiance of the state Coastal Commission's jurisdiction over the shoreline and asks the court to issue an injunction to stop enforcement. The suit grows out of a battle over Venice's rising homeless population.

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