WASHINGTON

Last troops from U.S. surge in 2010 leave Afghanistan

Nearly two years after President Barack Obama ordered 33,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to tamp down the escalating Taliban violence, the last of those surge troops have left the country, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The withdrawal, which leaves 68,000 American forces in the war zone, comes as the security transition to Afghan forces is in trouble, threatened by a spike in so-called insider attacks in which Afghan Army and police troops, or insurgents dressed in their uniforms, have been attacking and killing U.S. and NATO forces.

And it’s called into question the core strategy that relies on NATO troops working shoulder to shoulder with Afghans, training them to take over the security of their own country so the United States and its allies can leave at the end of 2014 as planned.

The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan peaked at about 101,000 last year, and they have been coming out slowly during the past several months.

BERLIN

City unveils Cold War exhibit at former Checkpoint Charlie

Berlin is unveiling a new Cold War exhibition at the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing — a step toward setting up a permanent museum about the standoff between East and West.

The “BlackBox Cold War” exhibition uses posters, newspapers, videos and other artifacts to narrate the conflict from Germany’s post-World War II division to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It opens Friday and is expected to remain for at least two years. Supporters hope to complete a larger, permanent museum at the site in 2015 or 2016.

Mayor Klaus Wowereit said the checkpoint — where U.S. and Soviet tanks faced off in 1961 — “is the only place worldwide where both superpowers directly faced each other with weapons and the danger of a hot war was palpable.”

HOUSTON

Center launches ‘moonshot’ against eight forms of cancer

The nation’s largest cancer center is launching a massive “moonshot” effort against eight specific forms of the disease, similar to the all-out push for space exploration 50 years ago.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston expects to spend as much as $3 billion on the project during the next 10 years and already has “tens of millions” of dollars in gifts to jump-start it now, said its president, Dr. Ronald DePinho.

One of the cancers is myelodysplastic syndrome. “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts has that disease and had a bone marrow transplant to treat it on Thursday. The others are especially deadly forms of breast and ovarian cancer, along with lung, prostate, melanoma and two types of leukemia.

CHICAGO

Gynecologists group: IUDs, implants best for teen girls

Teenage girls may prefer the pill, the patch or even wishful thinking, but their doctors should be recommending IUDs or hormonal implants — long-lasting and more effective birth control that you don’t have to remember to use every time, the nation’s leading gynecologists group said Thursday.

The IUD and implants are safe and nearly 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, and should be “first-line recommendations,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in updating its guidance for teens.

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic inserted in the uterus that can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. An implant is a matchstick-size plastic rod that releases hormones. It is placed under the skin of the upper arm and usually lasts three years.

Birth control pills often must be taken at the same time every day to be most potent. And forgetting to take even one can lead to pregnancy, which is why the pill is sometimes only 91 percent effective. 

— From news service reports