KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Colin Dwyer

Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111. Since his system was introduced nearly six decades ago, few innovations have done more to boost literacy rates in China and bridge the divide between the country and the West.

At noon on Inauguration Day, precisely the moment Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn as president, there will be another changing of the guard in Washington.

The D.C. National Guard announced Friday that its commanding general, Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, will be stepping down as of 12 p.m. on Jan. 20.

How much criticism can a single half-hour episode of television sustain before it gets the ax?

On Friday, we may have gotten our answer: An episode of the British comedy series Urban Myths — which drew widespread complaints for featuring the white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson — has been canceled by Sky TV before it could air.

After years of hints, shots across the bow and a few gentle suggestions, the Chargers have finally done it: Owner Dean Spanos announced that the NFL team will be leaving San Diego for Los Angeles, starting nex

Maracanã Stadium has been a fixture of the Rio de Janeiro skyline for decades. Opened just in time to play host to Brazil's heartbreak in the 1950 World Cup, it underwent massive renovations to host ... well, more heartbreak for Brazilians in the 2014 World Cup.

It has spent some 175 years homeless, wandering many paths of taxonomy without a single branch to call its own. In the time since it was first described, this now-extinct, cone-shaped sea creature has known a number of presumed families — from mollusks to designations much more nebulous — but the tiny hyolith never quite fit in any of them.

It was on a routine patrol in 1986 that Steven McDonald's life took a dramatic turn. McDonald, who was just two years into his service with the New York Police Department, and his partner confronted a trio of boys in Central Park. Within seconds, one of those teens drew a handgun and shot McDonald three times.

That shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down. Yet his life was arguably shaped as much by those three bullets as by the three words he famously expressed afterward: "I forgive him."

Just days after the death of its most famous star, SeaWorld has begun the process of putting its headliner show to rest.

The theme park's San Diego location is delivering its final One Ocean show on Sunday, ending the series of orca performances that elicited outrage after the 2013 documentary Blackfish. The principal subject of that documentary, an orca named Tilikum, died Friday at the age of 36.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's fourth president and a towering figure in the country, has died at the age of 82, according to Iranian state media.

For decades, the Shiite Muslim cleric played an outsize role in Iranian politics. An aide to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the country's 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani served on the Revolutionary Council that helped transform the newborn Islamic Republic from a monarchy into a theocracy.

Several bombings tore through Iraq's capital city just hours apart on Sunday. The attacks in and around Baghdad, which are believed to have primarily targeted Shiite Muslims, killed more than two dozen people and left dozens more wounded.

Early Sunday in Sadr City, a predominantly Shiite suburb, Iraqi government officials say an attacker drove a car rigged with explosives into a large fruit and vegetable market.

At least four people were killed and 15 more injured after a truck plowed into pedestrians in Jerusalem, say Israeli police. According to police spokeswoman Luba Samri, the driver swerved into a group of Israeli soldiers who had just gotten off a bus at the Armon Hanatziv promenade.

The driver "has been neutralized," Israeli police say. They are describing the killing as a terrorist act by a man who hails from Jabel Mukaber, a predominantly Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israeli police have placed a gag order on further details pending an investigation.

A two-day mutiny among soldiers in the Ivory Coast has come to an end, according to the country's president. Alassane Ouattara announced Saturday that the government has struck a deal with the mutineers.

The revolt, which began Friday in Bouaké, the country's second-largest city, soon spread to cities and towns nationwide. By Saturday, parts of the Ivory Coast's largest city, Abidjan, were on lockdown, as gunfire was reported at the military base on the edge of the city.

There have been no immediate reports of casualties.

Updated at 5:52 p.m.

One day after five people were killed at an airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., more details are coming to light on the suspected gunman: Esteban Ruiz Santiago, a U.S. military veteran.

The 26-year-old was arrested by police shortly after the shooting began at the airport's baggage claim area. He is now at a Broward County jail, where authorities say he is being held on suspicion of murder. Authorities say there is no indication that Santiago worked with anyone else in planning or executing the attack.

Rarely does a layover draw intense international scrutiny.

Yet when Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen touches down in Houston, after setting out from Taiwan on Saturday, China's attentions will be squarely trained on what she does during her brief stopover. The stop in Houston, en route to Tsai's diplomatic visit in Central America, has taken on new significance since her December phone call with President-elect Donald Trump unsettled decades of U.S. policy toward China.

A blast has torn through the Syrian town of Azaz, killing at least 43 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The U.K.-based activist group says the explosion was caused by a fuel tanker rigged with a bomb, which went off outside a courthouse in the rebel-held town on Syria's border with Turkey.

It's a fantasy that goes back centuries: a message in a bottle, carried ashore from far-off lands. Authors, artists and children alike have dreamed of such a gift from the sea.

This time, though, it's not a bottle that washes ashore. It's eggs — thousands of little toy eggs.

That's what happened on the German island of Langeoog this week. Perched just off the North Sea coast, it found itself buffeted by an invasion of multicolored plastic eggs — much to the delight of local children, because the eggs contained toys.

At least 33 inmates have been killed in an uprising at the largest prison in the northernmost state of Brazil, according to news reports citing local officials. The violence, which occurred overnight in Roraima state, comes just five days after Brazil's deadliest prison massacre in nearly 25 years.

That violence last weekend left at least 56 prisoners dead in a penitentiary in Manaus, just south of Roraima in the massive state of Amazonas.

Just before dawn Thursday, at Tokyo's historic Tsukiji market, a familiar face walked away with the biggest fish in town. Kiyoshi Kimura won the first auction of the year at the market, just as he has for six years running.

And to the winner go the spoils: a 466-pound Pacific bluefin tuna, which ultimately cost Kimura 74.2 million yen — or about $632,000. That comes out to more than $1,300 a pound for Kimura, whose Kimura Corp. owns a restaurant chain called Sushi Zanmai.

More than four decades ago, when NPR was still in its infancy, the network had a little idea: How about we ask listeners to write ads for the finer things in life — the things money can't buy?

The results, the "Commercials For Nicer Living," were produced by NPR in 1972 and voiced by Susan Stamberg and Linda Wertheimer — and so delightful that we decided to revive the series.

Dylann Roof delivered his opening statement in a South Carolina courtroom Wednesday, as the penalty phase of his federal trial got underway. Roof, who was convicted last month of murdering nine black churchgoers, will be representing himself as jurors weigh whether to give him the death penalty or life in prison.

His remarks were brief, focused only on defending his decision to dismiss his lawyers for this phase of the trial.

He said it's "absolutely true" that he chose to represent himself so that his lawyers would not present evidence of mental illness.

Here's a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year's Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world's foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

The plan began with an idle thought.

Glancing at a map earlier this month, Owen Delaney realized something funny: Seen from above, the Diana Fountain in London's Bushy Park bears a striking resemblance to the bulbous nose of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — at least, it would if that famous nose of his were blue. At any rate, that fountain-nose would look better if seen in the context of a full face.

So, Delaney decided to do it himself.

Finally, after more than 120 years, Paul Smith has recovered something he never knew was missing in the first place.

The headmaster at Hereford Cathedral School, near the boundary between Wales and England, had been looking at his mail earlier this month when he noticed a package wrapped in brown paper addressed to him. Smith guessed immediately that the package contained a thick book — but it wasn't until he read the note that came with it that he realized just how long that very book had been around.

The United Kingdom's fertility regulator has put its seal of approval on the "cautious use" of techniques to create a baby from the DNA of three people. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, or HFEA, announced Thursday that it will now begin to accept applications from fertility clinics that wish to become licensed to perform the procedure.

The decision means the U.K. will sanction and regulate the techniques, known broadly as mitochondrial donation, "in certain, specific cases."

In a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a special commission to South Sudan described the state of the country in the starkest terms possible. Atrocities like murder and gang rape are happening on an "epic" scale, reported the commission's chief, who warned that the world's youngest country now "stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war."

Updated at 10:52 a.m. ET Dec. 11

Turkey has declared a national day of mourning after two explosions struck a large soccer stadium in Istanbul, leaving at least 38 people dead and 155 others wounded, according to the Turkish interior minister. Among those killed were 30 police officers.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, released a statement claiming responsibility for the massive car bomb, which detonated outside the Besiktas stadium well after it had emptied of fans. The attack targeted the dozens of riot police stationed outside.

In 2010, Chris Bertish paddled into 25-foot waves en route to a win at the Mavericks Surf Contest, an annual competition at one of the world's most famous (and nastiest) big-wave breaks. On Tuesday, Bertish paddled out to conquer something even more massive — roughly 4,600 miles larger, in fact.

The 42-year-old South African surfer and sailor set out to become the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean unassisted on a stand-up paddleboard.

The holiday competition to warm the cold cockles of our hearts is sure heating up.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key surprised his country, announcing that he would be resigning in a week's time. Key, who is also leader of the National Party, made his decision public at a press conference on Monday afternoon local time.

"Sometimes you've got to make hard decisions to make right decisions," Key told reporters. "This is the hardest decision I've ever made, and I don't know what I'll do next."

Italian voters have dealt a serious defeat to the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In a referendum Sunday, they rejected Renzi's proposed constitutional reforms, which would have changed the balance of power between the executive and Parliament.

The "no" vote is expected to win by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points, in what is seen as a resounding message of discontent with Renzi's government. The lopsided result also signals the strength of anti-establishment sentiment in the country.

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