World briefs: Physicists make key discovery

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GENEVA -- Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. The particle was named for Peter Higgs, one of the physicists who proposed its existence, but it later became popularly known as the "God particle."

Last July, scientists at CERN, the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced finding a particle they described as Higgs-like, but they stopped short of saying conclusively that it was the same particle or some version of it.

China's leader takes power

HONG KONG -- Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party, assumed the presidency of China on Thursday, completing his formal transition to power.

The National People's Congress anointed Mr. Xi as president four months after he was appointed as Communist Party general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission, putting him at the top of all three major power centers in China: the party, the army and the state.

18 die in Baghdad attacks

BAGHDAD -- Eighteen people were killed and 67 were wounded Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Ministry of Justice compound, which he and other armed attackers had managed to infiltrate after a series of car bomb blasts nearby, police said.

The attacks, apparently coordinated, started when the three car bombs were detonated outside the Justice, Foreign Affairs and Communications ministries, hitting an area deep inside a walled compound heavy with security guards in central Baghdad.

U.S. general faults Karzai

KABUL -- The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has warned that President Hamid Karzai's harsh public statements against the United States this month could increase the risk of an attack on U.S. forces.

Gen. Joseph Dunford sent an email Wednesday to his subordinate generals claiming that Mr. Karzai's remarks could trigger more "insider attacks," in which disgruntled or radical Afghan troops or police officers turn their weapons on U.S. troops. One such incident in Wardak province this week left two U.S. Special Operations troops dead when an Afghan policeman opened fire.

France may arm rebels

PARIS -- France may start delivering weapons to Syria's anti-government rebels without agreement from its European Union partners, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

There is an "imbalance" in Syria because Russia and Iran are sending weapons to President Bashar al-Assad while rebels lack arms to battle the government, Mr. Fabius said Thursday.

Also in the world...

Passengers from the cruise ship Carnival Dream headed to the airport in St. Maarten Thursday instead of sailing home to Port Canaveral, Fla., after an on-board generator problem halted their trip. ...Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge who was one of three elderly leaders on trial on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, died Thursday in a hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was 87.



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