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Five nations go 'nuclear-free'

five nations have cleared out their stocks of highly enriched uranium since President Barack Obama outlined his plans for securing all nuclear materials worldwide, the US claims.

The effort is aimed at preventing atomic weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists.

The US also said it had helped about a dozen countries remove enough nuclear material to make almost 30 warheads.

Global leaders are expected to use the Seoul nuclear security summit, which starts on Sunday, to announce additional progress.

Arms control experts say locking away uranium and plutonium -- used in the explosive core of bombs -- is vital to stopping nuclear-armed terror.

Kidnapper loses appeal

A Supreme Court panel voted not to free a Frenchwoman who says she was unjustly sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping in a case that has put Mexico's troubled justice system on trial.

The case of Florence Cassez has strained relations between the countries and it is also the centre of a vigorous debate between Mexicans who say she was abused by the criminal justice system and those who say setting her free would only reinforce a sense that crimes go unpunished.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for Cassez to be freed, , while Mexican president Felipe Calderon has urged the court panel to uphold justice for victims.

N Korea goes on music tour

Plans are in place to bring North Korea's national orchestra to the US for a tour.

The North Korean National Symphony Orchestra would bring 164 musicians and journalists for an 18-day visit that would also include stops in Atlanta, Oxford, Mississippi, and New York, said a humanitarian group that works in North Korea. Organisers are still waiting for government approval.

¤3.5m jewels

heist gang held

seven people have been charged in connection with operating a $4.6m (¤3.5m) jewellery-theft ring.

Prosecutors said the suspects stole the jewellery from travelling sales representatives in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee.