BEIRUT – Syrian government helicopters dropped barrels full of explosives on a rebel-held town near the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 50 people in two separate attacks over the weekend, activists said Sunday.
The shelling Sunday hit near a bakery in the town of al-Bab, east of Aleppo, killing at least 24 people, said Rami Abdurrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Akram al-Halabi, a rebel spokesman based in nearby in Aleppo.
The attack followed a similar bombing on Saturday, when army helicopters targeted a rebel compound in al-Bab, but missed their target and hit a market, killing 26 people, Abdurrahman said.
Minn. police cite thrower of $1,000
A Minnesota man who says he was trying to spread holiday cheer by tossing 1,000 dollar bills over an upper floor railing at the Mall of America has been cited for disorderly conduct.
Serge Vorobyov, 29, of Apple Valley, admitted throwing his “last $1,000” from the fourth floor of the Bloomington mall on Friday as a choir performed “Let it Snow.” Vorobyov said he kept tossing cash as he continued down the escalator.
Vorobyov said he’s going through a divorce and lost his car-hauling business, and he had hoped the positivity of throwing the money would come back to him.
“I wanted to do some sort of pay-it-forward kind of thing,” Vorobyov said Sunday.
Instead, Vorobyov was cited by Bloomington police. He also was ordered not to go into the mall for a year.
Online voters name National Zoo panda
The most popular giant panda in U.S.-China relations finally was given an identity Sunday as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo named its female 100-day-old cub Bao Bao after receiving more than 123,000 votes online from the public.
Bao Bao, which means “treasure” or “precious,” is only the second surviving cub born at the Washington, D.C., zoo since the first pandas arrived in 1972 to commemorate President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. Pandas have remained a symbol of diplomacy between the two countries.
Panda mother Mei Xiang has been caring for her cub in the panda den since she was born Aug. 23.
Afghans blame U.S. for fuel shortage
Afghan military and police commanders are accusing the U.S.-led coalition of withholding fuel and other support in an attempt to pressure President Hamid Karzai into signing a security agreement with the United States.
Coalition officials strongly deny the allegation, the latest disagreement between the Karzai government and U.S. military leaders.
According to a statement from Karzai, the issue arose during a meeting of his national security council on Sunday. Afghan military and police commanders complained that their forces are struggling with a fuel shortage and said they suspect the United States is using the resource as leverage over Karzai.
China launches moon-bound craft
China has launched its first mission to land a rover on the moon that will transmit images and survey the moon’s surface. The spacecraft is expected to land in mid-December.
The official Xinhua News Agency said a Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang’e 3 lander blasted off as scheduled at 1:30 a.m. today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China.
If the mission goes as planned, the Chang’e 3 will become China’s first spacecraft to soft land on an extraterrestrial body.
Croatian voters ban same-sex marriage
A majority of Croatians voted in a referendum Sunday to ban gay marriages in what is a major victory for the Catholic Church-backed conservatives in the European Union’s newest nation.
The state electoral commission, citing nearly complete results, said 65 percent of those who voted answered “yes” to the referendum question: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” The result meant that Croatia’s constitution will be amended to ban same-sex marriage.