Greg Myre

The cause isn't yet known, but the loss of an Egyptian plane into the Mediterranean has already delivered a new round of trauma to a beleaguered country struggling on several fronts.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi's hardline rule faces mounting criticism at home and abroad. An ISIS-linked group is waging an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. The tourist industry has been in the doldrums for years.

And the EgyptAir plane that vanished early Thursday marked the country's second aviation disaster in just over six months.

This was supposed to be Brazil's time to shine. The country's economy was surging a few years back, the 2014 World Cup fueled the national obsession with soccer and the 2016 Summer Olympics were on the horizon.

When King Salman assumed the throne in Saudi Arabia last year, he was pushing 80, his health was questionable and many thought he would be more a caretaker than a monarch of note.

Yet Salman has unleashed major initiatives and shaken up the kingdom, setting a course for change in a land where the watchwords have long been tradition, stability and continuity.

A broad survey of Arab youth in the Middle East and North Africa found that an overwhelming majority reject the Islamic State and its aims, though they see a lack of jobs and opportunities as major problems in their countries and leading recruiting tools for ISIS.

President Obama has cut a nuclear deal with Iran. He has scolded North Korea for its provocative nuclear tests. And he has hosted a series of global nuclear security summits in Washington.

Now there's speculation the president may visit Hiroshima, Japan, site of the world's first atomic bombing, which hastened the end of World War II more than 70 years ago.

The headquarters for the U.S. military's longest war isn't at the Pentagon. It's here at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, a modest brick building in suburban Washington.

Like most military campaigns, this one requires volunteers. Their mission is to place a bare arm atop a mug of malaria-infected mosquitoes and sit still while the parasites enjoy a feast. The volunteers will get malaria, and this allows the military to see how humans respond to treatment.

Syria's government has freed an American who was seized after entering the country in 2012, U.S. officials said Friday.

The Washington Post identified him as Kevin Patrick Dawes, 33, of San Diego. He was released after lengthy negotiations, according to the U.S. officials. There was no immediate word on where Dawes was on Friday.

When Pakistani Taliban gunmen stormed a school in December 2014, killing more than 130 schoolboys, it united many Pakistanis in support of a major offensive against the radical group that had been growing more menacing for years.

That military operation, which was already underway, picked up momentum. Violence is down, and Taliban have been weakened in their strongholds in northwest Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

The Islamic State has been steadily losing territory in its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S. bombing campaign and a host of rival forces chip away at its holdings.

Yet the Brussels bombings again demonstrated the group's potency much farther afield, from terror attacks in Western Europe and North Africa to seizing control of Libya's coastal city of Sirte.

The terrorist attacks in Brussels mark the third major assault in the heart of Europe in just over a year and raise a troubling question: Are European states prepared to deal with a sustained onslaught?

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was hit in January 2015. Terrorists rampaged through Paris again in November. And now, Brussels has suffered bomb attacks at the airport and the subway, claiming more than 30 lives.

Europe and Turkey have been negotiating for decades on the kind of relationship they want, and they're nowhere close to a final deal on that big question.

The limited agreement announced Friday on migrants reflects the relationship they have by default: mutual dependency that forces them to cooperate when faced with a crisis.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the United States has determined that the Islamic State is carrying out genocide against Christians and other religious groups in the Middle East.

It was not immediately clear whether the declaration would result in any change in U.S. policy, including the American bombing campaign against the radical Islamist group.

"In my judgment, [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims," Kerry said at the State Department.

Russian President Vladimir Putin just made another shrewd and decisive move with his surprising decision to start withdrawing forces from Syria. Or, the Russian leader was overextended abroad and short of cash at home and was looking for a quick exit.

Putin wants everyone to believe the former, claiming the Russian airstrikes and the Syrian government army have achieved a "fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism."

The U.S. has ramped up oil production so dramatically that it's joined Saudi Arabia and Russia as one of the world's largest producers. Just glance at the chart below.

Since this surge began in 2008, American production rocketed from 5 million barrels a day to nearly 10 million barrels a day at the high point last year.

More importantly, oil analysts confidently predicted that a tide of benefits would flow as freely as the oil now coming out of the ground.

A handwritten will by Osama bin Laden said he had a fortune of "about 29 million dollars" and that most of it should be spent "on Jihad," according to documents released by the U.S. government on Tuesday.

Pages