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World and nation briefs

Friday, December 7, 2012 - 10:42 am

Missing Iowa girls' families, community reeling after two bodies are found

EVANSDALE, Iowa – The families of two young cousins missing for five months still were hoping the girls would come home, maybe even for Christmas, until the sad news arrived that two bodies had been found.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner's office are under way, but the remains are believed to be those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, who were 10 and 8 when they vanished July 13 while riding their bicycles, Black Hawk County sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben said.

Sara Curl, a friend of the girls' families and organizer of several community events to support them, said the families were spending time with each other Thursday trying to cope with the news. The Collins family put up a tree and decorated it for Elizabeth, she said.

Curl helped put together a vigil for the girls Thursday night, one of many community activities that will be needed to help people heal in the days ahead, she said.

Hunters found the bodies Wednesday in a wildlife area in northeastern Iowa, about 25 miles from Evansdale where the girls were last seen. Authorities found their bikes and a purse near a recreational lake in the city, and their disappearance sparked a massive search and kidnapping investigation involving the FBI, state and local police.

Officials reassure Cleveland after police shooting kills 2

CLEVELAND – Cleveland's mayor has assured community members that they will be kept informed on the investigation into last week's police shooting that left two people dead in a hail of 137 shots fired by officers.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports that Mayor Frank Jackson spoke at a meeting in a church basement Thursday night that became heated at times as community members accused officers of murder.

More than 100 people attended. Police Chief Michael McGrath told them it could take up to six weeks for an administrative investigation to be completed.

Police said 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams were killed Nov. 29 after Russell led officers on a 25-minute chase. Police said use of force was justified because Russell rammed a cruiser and nearly hit an officer.

To the moon? Sure, for $1.5B ticket, firm says

WASHINGTON – Attention wealthy nations and billionaires: A team of former NASA executives will fly you to the moon in an out-of-this-world commercial venture combining the wizardry of Apollo and the marketing of Apple.

For a mere $1.5 billion, the business is offering countries the chance to send two people to the moon and back, either for research or national prestige. And if you are an individual with that kind of money to spare, you too can go the moon for a couple of days.

Some space experts, though, are skeptical of the firm's financial ability to get to the moon. The venture called Golden Spike Co. was announced Thursday.

Dozens of private space companies have started up recently, but few if any will make it – just as in other fields – said Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks launches worldwide.

“This is unlikely to be the one that will pan out,” McDowell said.

NASA's last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago today.

Alaska reclaims missing moon rocks

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A display of moon rocks that disappeared from an Alaska museum after an arson fire nearly four decades ago has been returned to the state after the settlement of a lawsuit by a man who claimed he rescued the rocks from the rubble.

State and federal officials at a news conference Thursday displayed the returned relic – tiny moon rocks encased in a golf ball-size acrylic glass ball and mounted on a walnut plaque above a small Alaska flag that traveled to the moon aboard Apollo 11.

President Richard Nixon presented the plaque to Alaska Gov. Keith Miller in 1969. It was on display at the Alaska Transportation Museum in 1973 when an arsonist torched the building. Witnesses remembered seeing the plaque intact, but it disappeared until the foster son of the transportation museum director made a claim of ownership in 2010.

Clinton: US, Russia back Syria mediation

BELFAST, Northern Ireland – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States and Russia have agreed to support mediation efforts with all parties in Syria to bring about a political transition.

But she says Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power to secure a democratic future for the Arab country.

Washington and Moscow have clashed repeatedly throughout Syria's 21-month civil war over how to stem the violence.

In a new effort, Clinton met with Russia's foreign minister and the U.N. peace envoy for Syria to try to chart a new path forward.

–From wire reports