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Israel says it will stop Gaza flotilla

JERUSALEM - Israel's navy will stop a flotilla heading for Gaza with 10,000 tons of supplies and pro-Palestinian activists intent on breaking a three-year blockade of Gaza, officials said Wednesday, in the first definitive Israeli pledge to stop the boats.

The officials said that if the flotilla of eight ships did not turn back, the boats would be hauled to an Israeli port, the activists sent back to their countries, and the supplies transferred to Gaza by land. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with military policy.

The flotilla is expected to approach Gaza over the weekend. Organizers say they are hauling supplies including building materials that are not allowed into the territory because of the blockade. Greta Berlin, one of the organizers, said that among the passengers were lawmakers from a dozen European countries, a Holocaust survivor in her 80s, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and a retired U.S. Army colonel.

Israel and Egypt cordoned off the territory three years ago after the extremist group Hamas overran the territory. Despite the blockade, Israel allows in what it classifies as "humanitarian supplies" and says there is no crisis of shortages in Gaza. - AP

Boy, 13, descends from Mt. Everest

KATHMANDU, Nepal - The 13-year-old American boy who became the youngest person to scale Mount Everest made it off the mountain safely Wednesday, saying that reaching the highest point in the world was the time of his life.

Jordan Romero, from Big Bear, Calif., reached the 29,035-foot summit Saturday with his father, Paul Romero, his father's girlfriend, Karen Lundgren, and three Sherpa guides.

"It was a feeling like no other," he told reporters after entering Nepal from Tibet. "We were having a time of our lives. It was the best view you could get anywhere in the world." He broke the record set by Temba Tsheri of Nepal, who reached the peak at age 16. - AP

Couple appeal for release by pirates

LONDON - A British couple kidnapped by Somalian pirates more than six months ago appeared in a video Wednesday appealing to their country's new government to secure their release.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped Oct. 23 when armed pirates seized their 38-foot yacht in the Indian Ocean as they sailed toward Tanzania. In the newly disclosed video, excerpts of which were broadcast by Britain's Channel 4 News and ITV News programs, the couple pleaded for help from Prime Minister David Cameron.

The pirates have demanded a $7 million ransom. Britain's Foreign Office said the policy against paying ransoms had not changed since the new government took office earlier this month. - AP


Pakistan will restore access to YouTube but will block videos offensive to Muslims that are posted on the video-sharing site, the government said Wednesday. A number of high-profile websites were blocked in Pakistan last week over offensive content, such as a Facebook page that urges users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.