WXXI AM News

Colin Dwyer

A blast has torn through the Syrian town of Azaz, killing at least 43 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The U.K.-based activist group says the explosion was caused by a fuel tanker rigged with a bomb, which went off outside a courthouse in the rebel-held town on Syria's border with Turkey.

It's a fantasy that goes back centuries: a message in a bottle, carried ashore from far-off lands. Authors, artists and children alike have dreamed of such a gift from the sea.

This time, though, it's not a bottle that washes ashore. It's eggs — thousands of little toy eggs.

That's what happened on the German island of Langeoog this week. Perched just off the North Sea coast, it found itself buffeted by an invasion of multicolored plastic eggs — much to the delight of local children, because the eggs contained toys.

At least 33 inmates have been killed in an uprising at the largest prison in the northernmost state of Brazil, according to news reports citing local officials. The violence, which occurred overnight in Roraima state, comes just five days after Brazil's deadliest prison massacre in nearly 25 years.

That violence last weekend left at least 56 prisoners dead in a penitentiary in Manaus, just south of Roraima in the massive state of Amazonas.

Just before dawn Thursday, at Tokyo's historic Tsukiji market, a familiar face walked away with the biggest fish in town. Kiyoshi Kimura won the first auction of the year at the market, just as he has for six years running.

And to the winner go the spoils: a 466-pound Pacific bluefin tuna, which ultimately cost Kimura 74.2 million yen — or about $632,000. That comes out to more than $1,300 a pound for Kimura, whose Kimura Corp. owns a restaurant chain called Sushi Zanmai.

Dylann Roof delivered his opening statement in a South Carolina courtroom Wednesday, as the penalty phase of his federal trial got underway. Roof, who was convicted last month of murdering nine black churchgoers, will be representing himself as jurors weigh whether to give him the death penalty or life in prison.

His remarks were brief, focused only on defending his decision to dismiss his lawyers for this phase of the trial.

He said it's "absolutely true" that he chose to represent himself so that his lawyers would not present evidence of mental illness.

Here's a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year's Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world's foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

The plan began with an idle thought.

Glancing at a map earlier this month, Owen Delaney realized something funny: Seen from above, the Diana Fountain in London's Bushy Park bears a striking resemblance to the bulbous nose of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — at least, it would if that famous nose of his were blue. At any rate, that fountain-nose would look better if seen in the context of a full face.

So, Delaney decided to do it himself.

Finally, after more than 120 years, Paul Smith has recovered something he never knew was missing in the first place.

The headmaster at Hereford Cathedral School, near the boundary between Wales and England, had been looking at his mail earlier this month when he noticed a package wrapped in brown paper addressed to him. Smith guessed immediately that the package contained a thick book — but it wasn't until he read the note that came with it that he realized just how long that very book had been around.

The United Kingdom's fertility regulator has put its seal of approval on the "cautious use" of techniques to create a baby from the DNA of three people. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, or HFEA, announced Thursday that it will now begin to accept applications from fertility clinics that wish to become licensed to perform the procedure.

The decision means the U.K. will sanction and regulate the techniques, known broadly as mitochondrial donation, "in certain, specific cases."

In a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a special commission to South Sudan described the state of the country in the starkest terms possible. Atrocities like murder and gang rape are happening on an "epic" scale, reported the commission's chief, who warned that the world's youngest country now "stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war."

Pages