WASHINGTON

Air Force general was fired for heavy drinking in Russia

The Air Force general who was fired from command of U.S. land-based nuclear missile forces had engaged in “inappropriate behavior” while on official business in Russia last summer, including heavy drinking, rudeness to his hosts and associating with “suspect” women, according to an investigation report released Thursday.

The events that led to the dismissal took place while Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was in Russia in July as head of a U.S. government delegation to a nuclear security training exercise. At the time, he was commander of the 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the Air Force’s Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles stationed in five U.S. states.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

Satanic Temple’s display won’t be allowed at Capitol

Florida state officials overseeing holiday displays at the Capitol have said yes to a Nativity scene, a Festivus pole and even a chair holding a fake pile of pasta with eyeballs and an accompanying “provherb” from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

But they are drawing the line with Satan.

The Department of Management Services emailed The Satanic Temple on Wednesday, telling the group its proposed display of an angel falling from heaven into an open fire was “grossly offensive.”

WASHINGTON

President sends 45 troops to embassy in South Sudan

President Obama has deployed a small military contingent to South Sudan to help bolster security at the U.S. Embassy amid escalating violence in the fledgling African nation.

In a letter to Congress, Obama said the 45 military personnel were sent to South Sudan on Wednesday. While they were equipped for combat, Obama said their purpose was to protect U.S. citizens and property and that they would remain in South Sudan until the security situation there improved.

“South Sudan stands at the precipice,” Obama said in a written statement. “Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past.”

He appealed for an end to the violence and urged South Sudan’s leaders to reaffirm their commitment to peace.

Violence broke out in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, late Sunday when the presidential guard splintered along ethnic lines.

MOSCOW

Putin will pardon top foe imprisoned for decade

In a surprise decision, President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be pardoned, a move that will see his top foe and Russia’s onetime richest man freed after more than a decade in prison.

The development, along with an amnesty for two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band and the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace protest ship, appeared aimed at easing international criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin’s pet project.

Putin waited until just after his tightly choreographed annual news conference to make the announcement, dropping the biggest news of the day after journalists had already peppered him with questions in a four-hour marathon.

Putin said the 50-year-old Khodorkovsky, who was set to be released next August, had submitted an appeal for pardon, something he had refused to do before.

“He has spent more than 10 years behind bars. It’s a tough punishment,” Putin said.

– From news service reports