Merrit Kennedy

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The U.N. Secretary-General said today he was hopeful that peace talks on Cyprus, being held in Geneva, could lead to a breakthrough, though he cautioned that "we are not here for a quick fix."

Flanked by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Secretary-General António Guterres said a breakthrough is what the world needs now.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing and failing to disclose software in some 104,000 cars and trucks that alters emissions.

The automaker was required by law to disclose the software to regulators during the certification process but did not do so, the EPA announced Thursday. While the agency is still investigating the nature of these devices, it said the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides.

A U.S. military investigation has cleared the U.S. forces of wrongdoing in fighting that left 33 civilians dead and 27 others wounded last year in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, saying that they acted in self-defense.

"To defend themselves and Afghan forces, U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense at Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions," according to the U.S. military report published Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations over its diesel emissions cheating scheme involving some 590,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The company has also agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts.

Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to an hours-long rescue operation of a deer hopelessly stuck on ice in Simsbury, Conn.

The scared deer splayed on the frozen river was streamed live by several television channels on Monday, in some cases for more than three hours, as rescue workers tried to get it to safety.

Two bomb blasts near the parliament building in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, have killed at least 30 people and injured at least 70.

"The first bomb exploded near a parked minibus," NPR's Nishant Dahiya reported. "The second, when the police arrived to help the victims." It happened during the evening rush hour as parliament staff were leaving work.

A female lawmaker was said to be among the injured, Nishant added, and other parliament staff were also reportedly victims of the attack.

In a decade, soccer's biggest tournament is set to become even bigger.

FIFA, the game's governing body, unanimously voted to expand the tournament to 48 teams from 32 teams starting in 2026.

The new format starts with the 48 teams playing one another in 16 groups of three. Then, the top two teams from each group will advance into a 32-team group for the knockout stage.

Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022, give or take a year, creating an explosion in the night sky so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye.

If it happens, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists.

Two law enforcement officers have been killed during a massive manhunt for a murder suspect in Orlando, Fla.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton radioed from a Wal-Mart shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, saying she was "attempting to contact a murder suspect," according to a statement from the City of Orlando. Other officers radioed two minutes later, reporting that an officer had been shot. The 17-year veteran of the department died after she was transported to a hospital.

Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem.

This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.

French police have reportedly arrested more than a dozen people during raids linked to the high-profile robbery of reality TV star Kim Kardashian West in Paris last October.

During the robbery, a group of thieves burst into the private residence where Kardashian West was staying, held her at gunpoint, then escaped on bicycles with jewelry worth about $10 million.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

The intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. elections concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" that aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump.

A golden statue commemorating the plight of "comfort women" — a euphemism for the Korean women and girls forced by the Japanese to work as sex slaves in front-line brothels during World War II — has caused a diplomatic row between Japan and South Korea.

At the end of December, activists placed the golden statue of a young woman sitting in a chair in front of the Japanese Consulate in the southern city of Busan, South Korea.

Russia says it is beginning to draw down its forces fighting in Syria's war. It decisively entered the war in September 2015, and has been a major factor keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.

This isn't the first time Russia has made this kind of announcement. "Last March, Putin also announced a withdrawal from Syria," NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow. "Instead, Russia ended up intensifying its war effort."

Unexplained, short radio bursts from outer space have puzzled scientists since they were first detected nearly a decade ago.

The elusive flashes — known as fast radio bursts, or FRBs — are extremely powerful and last only a few milliseconds. The way their frequencies are dispersed suggests they traveled from far outside our galaxy. About 18 have been detected to date. They've been called the "most perplexing mystery in astronomy."

Hurricane Matthew. The earthquake in Japan. Flooding in the Deep South, China and Europe. Wildfires in Canada.

Last year sometimes felt like one natural catastrophe after another. Now, new figures from reinsurer Munich Re suggest that it was indeed a particularly bad year.

A crowded commuter train crashed into a bumper block and partially derailed as it pulled into Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal on Wednesday morning, according to N.Y. officials. The FDNY says at least 103 people sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

"It appears that the train was heading into the station, at 10 or 15 miles per hour, and did not stop," WNYC's Stephen Nessen tells our Newscast unit. "It hit a bumper block; the front two cars were lifted off the tracks. One of the rails actually pierced the bottom of the front car."

Beijing's sky appears blue at the beginning of the 13-second video. Then it completely disappears from view, blotted out by a cloud of brown smog.

The time-lapse video shot Sunday by Chas Pope, a British citizen, dramatically illustrates the extent of China's pollution problem. Pope says the thick haze moved into Beijing over the course of 20 minutes.

Dozens of Chinese cities have suffered heavy smog for nearly a month.

Syrian rebel factions say they are freezing their participation in peace negotiations, citing breaches of the cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey.

This casts doubt on rebel participation in planned talks in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, later this month.

"A cease-fire has technically been in place across Syria since Friday, and violence is lower than usual," NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Beirut. "But the opposition says the regime has pressed offensives in the suburbs of Damascus and a river valley northwest of the capital in violation of the agreement."

Gambia's president is defiantly refusing to cede power despite his loss at the polls earlier this month, as regional and international leaders are ratcheting up the pressure on him to step down.

"This country has been independent since 1965. And they want me to leave my country? Who are they to tell me to leave my country?" Yahya Jammeh said in a speech at the African Bar Associated on Tuesday night. "I will not be intimidated by any power in this world."

Tensions are rising in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the government cracks down on demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila extending his term past his constitutional two-term limit.

Human Rights Watch says it documented at least 26 deaths during protests Tuesday in multiple cities and called the country a "powder keg." It said it is still verifying the number of dead.

President Obama has indefinitely blocked offshore drilling in areas of the Atlantic Ocean and in Arctic waters, a move aimed at advancing environmental protection during his final days in office.

The Arctic protections are a joint partnership with Canada. "These actions, and Canada's parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth," the White House said in a statement.

Michigan's attorney general has announced felony charges against two former emergency managers of Flint, Mich., and two other former city officials. The charges are linked to the city's disastrous decision to switch water sources, ultimately resulting in widespread and dangerous lead contamination.

"All too prevalent in this Flint Water Investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint," state Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.

Turkey and Russia have launched a joint investigation into the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey at the opening of a photo exhibit in the capital, Ankara, on Monday.

The ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was gunned down as he gave a speech at an art gallery. Turkey has identified the attacker as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old riot police officer, who shouted to the crowd, "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!" He was killed by Turkish special forces at the scene.

Editor's note: An image below shows Ambassador Andrei Karlov on the ground after he was shot.

Russia's ambassador to Turkey has died after he was shot Monday evening at an art exhibition in the capital, Ankara, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments broadcast on Russian state television.

A grenade-shaped trailer hitch, a replica exploding vest, dead seahorses in a bottle and a golden hand grenade — these are a few of the strangest items that Transportation Security Administration officers confiscated at airport checkpoints this year.

Coral in an area in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Connecticut to Virginia has been protected from deep-sea commercial fishing gear, by a new rule issued this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered telecom companies to block social media sites ahead of protests planned for Monday. That's the day that President Joseph Kabila's final constitutionally sanctioned presidential term expires, though he has delayed elections until April 2018.

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