North Korea executes leader's uncle as a traitor PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korea said Friday that it executed Kim Jong Un's uncle as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power, a stunning end for the leader's former mentor, long considered the country's No. 2. In a sharp reversal of the popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding young leader Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, the North's official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power.
Jang Song Thaek had been North Korea's No. 2 SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle marks the unprecedented fall from grace of one of the most powerful figures in North Korea and the most serious political upheaval in the country in decades. Jang Song Thaek, a native of the far northeastern border city of Chongjin who hailed from humble roots but was sharp enough to gain entry to prestigious Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, rose from municipal bureaucrat to vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and member of the Political Bureau - posts that put him in second in power only to Kim.
Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission WASHINGTON (AP) - In March 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson flew to Kish Island, an Iranian resort awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures. Days later, after an arranged meeting with an admitted killer, he checked out of his hotel, slipped into a taxi and vanished. For years, the U.S. has publicly described him as a private citizen who traveled to the tiny Persian Gulf island on private business. But that was just a cover story. An Associated Press investigation reveals that Levinson was working for the CIA. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts - with no authority to run spy operations - paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government for the U.S.
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Budget peace breaks out _ after Boehner tough talk WASHINGTON (AP) - Battle-fatigued and suddenly bipartisan, the House voted Thursday night to ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and head off future government shutdowns, acting after Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on tea party-aligned conservative groups campaigning for the measure's defeat. The legislation, backed by the White House, cleared on a vote of 332-94, with lopsided majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike voting in favor. Final passage is expected next week in the Senate.
UN inspectors confirm Syria chemical attack UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Chemical weapons were probably used in four locations in Syria this year, in addition to the confirmed attack near Damascus in August that forced the government to abandon its secret chemical stockpile, U.N. inspectors said in a report released Thursday. The experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, examined seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and said it lacked information to corroborate the allegations at two locations.
Daunting days ahead as Mexico readies oil opening MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's sweeping away of seven decades of nationalist protections and letting foreign companies back into its oil fields is crucial to bringing the expertise and money needed to rejuvenate its sclerotic energy industry, supporters say. But even after the strong approval given by both houses of Congress this week, skeptics ask whether Mexico has the ability or will to regulate the private contracts for the benefit of all Mexicans rather than just a few.
Newlywed pleads guilty to second-degree murder MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - A Montana newlywed pleaded guilty Thursday to killing her husband of eight days by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park while they argued about her second thoughts about the marriage. The surprise plea agreement with prosecutors came just before closing arguments were set to begin in the trial of Jordan Graham, 22.
Fake signer at Mandela event says he hallucinated JOHANNESBURG (AP) - The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial says he suffers from schizophrenia and hallucinated and saw angels while gesturing incoherently just 3 feet away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders, outraging deaf people worldwide who said his signs amounted to gibberish. South African officials scrambled Thursday to explain how they came to hire the man and said they were investigating what vetting process, if any, he underwent for his security clearance.
Sentence in Texas teen's fatal DWI wreck stirs ire HOUSTON (AP) - "Affluenza," the affliction cited by a psychologist to argue that a North Texas teenager from a wealthy family should not be sent to prison for killing four pedestrians while driving drunk, is not a recognized diagnosis and should not be used to justify bad behavior, experts said Thursday. A judge's decision to give 16-year-old Ethan Couch 10 years of probation for the fatal accident sparked outrage from relatives of those killed and has led to questions about the defense strategy. A psychologist testified in Couch's trial in a Fort Worth juvenile court that as a result of "affluenza," the boy should not receive the maximum 20-year prison sentence prosecutors were seeking.