Nation & World Briefs 04-02-14

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PITTSBURGH -- A tree trimmer is recovering after he was rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital with a chain saw blade embedded in his neck.

James Valentine was in a tree in Ross Township on Monday afternoon when he was struck in the neck by the saw. Another worker helped him down, and his co-workers left the saw in place to try to limit the bleeding.

Valentine had emergency surgery at Allegheny General Hospital. Doctors said the saw missed major arteries and instead cut into muscle. The hospital Tuesday released an X-ray showing the saw still in the 21-year-old's neck.

Valentine works for Adler Tree Service in Gibsonia. Owner Dominic Migliozzi calls the rescue "amazing."

Powerball winner comes forward: The sole winner of February's $425 million Powerball jackpot came forward to claim his prize Tuesday. California Lottery officials said B. Raymond Buxton, a Northern California man, claimed the prize at the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento. " 'Unbelievable!' is all I could muster," Buxton said in a statement on Tuesday. "Once the initial shock passed, I couldn't sleep for days."

Waters recede, helping search: It is a grim step forward in the search for human remains at a mudslide that crushed a rural Washington community, but an important one: floodwaters at the site are receding, allowing crews to expand their search and yielding more human remains in areas that previously couldn't be reached. The views presented Tuesday on a media tour were chilling: shredded homes and twisted cars. More than 10 days after a large section of a rain-soaked hill crashed down on a neighborhood in the small community of Oso, teams with cadaver dogs are still sifting through debris and soil to determine exactly how many people died in the March 22 mudslide.

Considering freeing Pollard: Every president since Ronald Reagan has refused to release Jonathan Pollard from prison. A CIA director once threatened to resign when Bill Clinton briefly considered freeing the convicted spy as part of Mideast peace talks. But now, in a gamble to extend negotiations that appear on the brink of collapse, the Obama administration is bringing the U.S. closer than it has been in years to granting Pollard an early release. If Pollard's freedom leads eventually to a final peace settlement, it could mark a major victory for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has toiled to achieve an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians after decades of distrust and violence. But if Pollard is freed and the talks fail, it could be a costly embarrassment.

Suspend cooperation with Russia: NATO foreign ministers moved Tuesday to beef up the defenses of front-line alliance members feeling menaced by a more assertive Russia, with Secretary of State John Kerry proclaiming the U.S. commitment to their security is "unwavering." The ministers from NATO's 28 member nations also ordered suspension of all "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Vladimir Putin's Russia, though they made sure a line of communication with the Kremlin remains open at the ambassadorial level.

No U.S. deaths in Afghan in March: The Pentagon said there were no U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in March -- the first zero-fatality month there since January 2007. American casualties in Afghanistan have declined as the number of U.S. forces has grown smaller and their role has shifted away from combat. U.S. troops are focused on training and advising Afghan forces. The Pentagon said there are about 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a 2011 peak of about 100,000. Pentagon statistics show there were 132 U.S. deaths in Afghanistan in 2013, compared with 313 the year before and 415 in 2011.

Chile resident cautious after quake: Authorities kept hundreds of thousands of people out of their beds early today after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile's northern coast. Five people were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth's crust. The extent of damage from Tuesday night's quake couldn't be fully assessed before daybreak, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn't taking any chances. She declared a state of emergency in the region and sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners.

Jet mystery may never be solved: Malaysian Police Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur the investigation into the pilots of the missing Malaysian jet might turn up nothing, the force's chief said today, while the head of the international search effort also acknowledged that an air hunt to spot wreckage on the surface of the southern Indian Ocean was not certain of success.

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