Nation and World In Brief

Australia convict freed from Gitmo

ADELAIDE, Australia &

An Australian who became the first person convicted at an American war crimes trial since World War II was freed from prison on Saturday, after completing his U.S. imposed sentence.

David Hicks, who was captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2001, pleaded guilty in March to providing material support to al-Qaida after more than five years at at Guantanamo prison and returned to Australia to serve out his sentence.

The 32-year-old former kangaroo skinner was released from South Australia state's Yatala prison. He was met by his father and lawyer and driven away in a civilian car with a police escort. He was expected to make a statement later Saturday.

His father, Terry, said Hicks was likely to apologize for any inconvenience he has caused and to thank his supporters for helping to secure his release from Guantanamo Bay.

"There'll be some sort of apology for what he's supposed to have done and what people believe he's done," Terry Hicks said Friday. "It is important to him that he gets this message across and thanks everybody who has been supportive of him."

Huckabee questioned amid Mideast riots

PELLA, Iowa &

Turmoil in Pakistan has moved foreign policy to the forefront of the presidential campaign in the U.S., a potentially unwelcome development for two Republican former governors with thin credentials on world affairs.

Mike Huckabee, who spent a decade at the helm in Arkansas, and Mitt Romney, who served one term as Massachusetts governor, have faced questions over the past two days about whether they have adequate experience to lead the country during an international crisis. They are in a tight race in Iowa with caucus voting on Thursday.

"The most important thing people need to know is that you have the judgment to deal with the issues that confront you," Huckabee told reporters Friday, brushing aside the notion that his diplomatic resume lacks heft. "I understand something about the way the world works."

Yet, missteps have hurt Huckabee's efforts to make that case as rivals hammer him on foreign policy. He has struggled to explain his comments on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the resulting upheaval in her country.

In Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Huckabee expressed "our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan." Amid criticism, his campaign said he meant to say "sympathies" not "apologies." He also referred to martial law "continuing" in Pakistan &

though the state of emergency was lifted two weeks ago.

Cranky customer leaves $50,000 tip


For nearly seven years Melina Salazar did her best to put on a smile and tend to the every need of her most loyal and cantankerous customer.

She made sure his food was as hot as he wanted, even if it meant he burned his mouth. And she smiled through his demands and curses. The 89-year-old Walter "Buck" Swords obviously appreciated it, leaving the waitress $50,000 and a 2000 Buick when he died.

"I still can't believe it," the Luby's cafeteria employee told Harlingen television station KGBT-TV in an interview during which she described Swords as "kind of mean."

Swords, a World War II veteran, died in July. But Salazar learned just a few days before Christmas that he had left her the money and car.

Zoo could face charges in tiger attack


The deadly tiger escape at the San Francisco Zoo could prove to be a costly blow to an institution that has come under fire repeatedly in just the past few years over the deaths of two elephants and the mauling of a zookeeper.

The zoo could face heavy fines from regulators. It could be stripped of its exhibitor license. Its accreditation could be at risk. It could be hit with a huge lawsuit by the victims or their families. It could even face criminal charges, depending on what the investigation finds.

"All this legal action is likely to impact the financial viability of the zoo," said Rory Little, a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. "Whether the zoo can stay open is a big question."

It is becoming increasingly clear that 350-pound Siberian tiger that killed a teenager and severely mauled two other visitors in a Christmas Day rampage climbed over a wall that at 121/2 feet was about 4 feet below the recommended minimum for U.S. zoos.

"" The Associated Press

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