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News Wrap: Missing Ex-FBI Agent Appears in Hostage Video

December 9, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: The family of missing retired FBI agent Robert Levinson has released a video sent by his unidentified captors. Levinson vanished in 2007 in Iran. The family received the video in November 2010, but posted it on their family website today, along with an urgent plea for his freedom.

It was the first proof that the 63-year-old father of seven was alive. A U.S. investigation has not revealed where Levinson is now or at the time the video was taken.

ROBERT LEVINSON, retired FBI agent: I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three-and-a-half years to please help me get home. Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something. Please help me.

KWAME HOLMAN: The appeal comes as Iran showed off pictures of what it said was a largely intact captured U.S. drone. The Iranian military claimed it shot down the top-secret unmanned aircraft on Sunday as it flew a surveillance mission over eastern Iran. Iranian state television broadcast video displaying the drone yesterday.

The U.S. military has acknowledged it lost control of a drone earlier this week. But officials wouldn’t confirm or deny it was the aircraft in the video.

A fire tore through a hospital in Kolkata, India, early this morning, killing at least 89 people. Authorities said many hospital employees fled the flames, instead of helping patients escape. Residents from nearby slums rescued some of those trapped in the smoking building. Fire equipment took more than an hour to get through narrow streets to the scene. Six hospital officials faced homicide charges.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made a surprise visit to Somalia’s war-torn capital, Mogadishu, today. It’s the first time a U.N. chief has visited the city in two decades. Ban said recent security gains in the nation will help allow the U.N. to move its political office for Somalia from Nairobi, Kenya, to Mogadishu in January.

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has won a second term in office. He won 49 percent of the vote, according to provisional results announced today. But longtime opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi rejected those results and declared himself president. And his supporters have vowed to take to the streets in protest. Election-related violence has killed 18 people and wounded more than 100 others.

A U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, teetered on the brink of collapse as it neared a close today. The European Union has proposed a 2015 target date for a new pact of binding cuts on the world’s biggest greenhouse emitters. It would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year. The U.S., India and China, the world’s three largest carbon emitters, never signed on to that treaty.

The European commissioner for climate change acknowledged negotiations are down to the wire.

CONNIE HEDEGAARD, European commissioner for climate change: If there is no further movement from what I have seen until 4:00 this morning, then I must say I don’t think that there will be a deal in Durban. That is what we are faced with. There is still time to move. And there — I must say there have been a lot of constructive talks.

KWAME HOLMAN: The climate talks likely will carry over into Saturday. They’re also expected to produce a fund to help the least-developed countries cope with climate change impacts.

Ford is recalling more than 100,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans because their wheels could fall off. The recall affects the 2010 and 2011 models of the two cars. Federal regulators found bolts holding the wheels can fracture, creating a vibration that can cause the wheels to come off. Ford said no crashes have been attributed to the problem and dealers will begin replacing wheel bolts for customers in January.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.