Nation & World Briefs 06-09-14: Bergdahl says he was tortured and caged after he tried to flee captors

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PARIS -- U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss what Bergdahl has revealed about the conditions of his captivity. The New York Times first reported on the matter.

The official said it was difficult to verify the accounts Bergdahl has given since his release a week ago.

Bergdahl, now 28, was captured in June 2009 after he disappeared from his infantry unit. He was held for nearly five years by Taliban militants.

Taliban spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday. On Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Associated Press by telephone that Bergdahl was held under "good conditions."

The claim could not be independently verified.

Donations swell for shooting hero: More than $60,000 has been donated online for the victims and hero of the shooting that left one dead and two injured at a small Seattle university. As of Sunday afternoon, a fundraising page for Jon Meis, a student who pepper-sprayed and tackled the gunman Thursday at Seattle Pacific University, had grossed more than $44,000. A fundraising page to cover the costs of Paul Lee's funeral and Sarah Williams' medical care is nearing $13,000. Another page started by Williams' family had raised nearly $5,000. More donations are expected. A lone gunman armed with a shotgun opened fire in a university building, killing Lee, 19, and wounding Williams, 19, who remains hospitalized. She was upgraded to stable condition Sunday evening at Harborview Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. The other injured student has been released from the hospital.

Says no to seeking VA post: Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of one of Ohio's top hospitals, said he's told the White House that he's not leaving his job to become veterans affairs secretary. Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic issued a statement Saturday saying he is honored to have been considered for the post but has decided to remain with the nonprofit medical center. The White House has not issued any statements on candidates to replace Eric Shinseki as veteran affairs secretary. News media have reported that Cosgrove was under consideration to head up the VA. Shinseki resigned amid reports of veterans waiting many months to see doctors at some VA facilities and allegations of faked reports of shorter wait times.

Crowned as 63rd Miss USA: Newly crowned Miss USA Nia Sanchez, a fourth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo, says that women need to be able to defend themselves as a way to battle the problem of campus rape and that bringing awareness to the issue is very important. The 24-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, beat out 50 other contestants from all the states and the District of Columbia on Sunday night in Baton Rouge, La., for the title of 63rd Miss USA. First runner-up was Miss North Dakota Audra Mari. Sanchez will go on to represent the U.S. at the Miss Universe competition later this year. Sanchez said women need to take it upon themselves to learn how to defend themselves. After being crowned, Sanchez told reporters she lived for a time in a women's shelter at a young age with her mother and at age 8 took up taekwondo to learn self-defense and build up her confidence.

Arrested after joyride: A Sonoma County teenager remained jailed Sunday after he was arrested on suspicion of using stolen credit cards to rent a $240,000 sports car and a $12 million vacation home. Mohanned Halaweh, 19, was arrested Wednesday after he was pulled over while driving the 2012 McLaren coupe he had rented for $13,000 and was subsequently reported stolen by its owner, Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Sgt. Michael Raasch told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1tWeTQ9). Halaweh also paid $27,000 to rent an estate in Glen Ellen, Raasch said.

El-Sissi sworn in as president: Egypt's former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, winner by a landslide in last month's presidential election, was sworn into office Sunday nearly a year after he ousted the nation's first freely elected leader. The retired field marshal called for unity and hard work, while vowing that there would be no reconciliation with those who took up arms against the government and Egyptians. That was a thinly veiled reference to supporters of Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president el-Sissi removed last July, and Islamic militants waging attacks against the government. "There will be reconciliation between the sons of our nation except those who had committed crimes against them or adopted violence," el-Sissi said. "There will be no acquiescence or laxity shown to those who resorted to violence."

Pope dives into Mideast peace: Pope Francis plunged head-first into Mideast peace-making Sunday, welcoming the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to the Vatican for a remarkable evening of peace prayers just weeks after the last round of U.S.-sponsored negotiations collapsed. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joked and embraced in the foyer of the Vatican hotel where Francis lives and later in the Vatican gardens, where they joined Francis in presiding over a sunset invocation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers. Francis told the two men, who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993, that he hoped the summit would mark "a new journey" toward peace.

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