Afghan detainee dies at U.S. base

MIAMI - A long-held Afghan detainee whom the U.S. military labeled "an experienced jihadist" died of colon cancer yesterday at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon's Miami outpost issued a statement to announce the death of Abdul Razzak, about 68, of Afghanistan.

If Navy Criminal Investigative Service probes of the earlier deaths of four captives uphold initial findings of suicide, Razzak's death would be the first among Guantanamo detainees of natural causes.

The Southcom statement said the colon cancer was discovered after Razzak complained of abdominal pains in September. Chemotherapy began in October, it said. An autopsy was planned.

It was not clear yesterday whether the man's remains would be repatriated to Afghanistan for burial.

- McClatchy Newspapers

In N.Y., confetti with messages

NEW YORK - Messages and wishes for the new year from people around the world will float down on the New Year's Eve revelers in Times Square when the multicolored confetti is dropped.

For the first time, anyone can get a message printed on a piece of the confetti by visiting the Times Square Information Center or by using the Internet to type a message on a "Wishing Wall Online," at

.

The message-carrying pieces will be mixed among the more than one ton of confetti, organizers said. Messages can be serious or silly, said Tim Tompkins, a spokesman for the Times Square Alliance, which organizes the party. So far, he said, messages have included everything from wanting to be taller or having a smarter boss to asking for the safe return of a child from Iraq.

- AP

Atlanta escapes driest-year label

ATLANTA - Rain fell in the city for a fourth consecutive day yesterday, assuring that 2007 would not go down as the driest year on record for the drought-stricken Atlanta area.

The most arid year ever recorded for Atlanta was 1954, when only 31.80 inches of rain fell.

Meteorologists had feared this year would have even less rain, predicting that showers yesterday would taper off. But the rain continued long enough to raise the 2007 cumulative rainfall to 31.85 inches. Dry weather was forecast for today.

More than one-third of the Southeast is in a severe drought. The Atlanta area, with a population of five million, is in the middle of the affected region, which includes most of Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina, as well as parts of Kentucky and Virginia.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Authorities in suburban Phoenix

, Ariz., yesterday found 37 suspected illegal immigrants, including five children, concealed in a truck, some hiding behind pallets of bell peppers. They were turned over to U.S. immigration officials.