North Korea deports elderly US tourist who advised South Korean guerrillas during war
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday freed an 85-year-old U.S. veteran of the Korean War after a weekslong detention, ending the saga of Merrill Newman’s attempt to visit the North as a tourist six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas still loathed by Pyongyang.
North Korea made the decision after Newman, who was detained since late October, apologized for his alleged crimes, which Pyongyang linked in part to his work with the South Korean partisan group. North Korea also cited his age and medical condition.
“I am very glad to be on my way home,” a smiling Newman told reporters after arriving at the airport in Beijing from Pyongyang. “And I appreciate the tolerance the (North Korean) government has given to me to be on my way.”
“I feel good,” Newman said, adding with a laugh that the first thing he planned to do was “go home and see my wife.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is traveling in Seoul, welcomed the release and said he talked by phone with Newman in Beijing, offering him a ride home on Air Force Two. Biden said Newman declined because of a direct flight to his home state of California, which he took later Saturday.
South Africa readies itself for arrival of world leaders for Mandela funeral
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa readied itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.
At Mandela’s house in the Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton, more than 100 people, black and white, gathered in the morning where they sang liberation songs and homages to Mandela. Children danced to the singing from the swaying crowd as hawkers nearby sold Mandela regalia.
Among those who have already indicated that they will be travelling to South Africa to honor Mandela, who died at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95 on Thursday night, are U.S. President Barack Obama and his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff will also be among the guests.
A week of mourning, with several events planned, has been declared by the government. Sunday has been declared a national day of prayer and reflection, while a national memorial service is scheduled to be held at a Johannesburg stadium where Mandela made his last public appearance for the closing ceremony of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
Official memorial services will also be held in all of South Africa’s provinces and regions over the next week. Mandela’s body will lie in state from Wednesday till Friday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the capital.
Hagel outlines new weapons sale plan for Gulf nations to protect against Iran
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opened the door for the U.S. to sell missile defense and other weapons systems to U.S.-friendly Gulf nations, with an eye toward boosting their abilities to counter Iran’s ballistic missiles, even as global powers ink a nuclear deal with Tehran.
In a speech Saturday to Gulf leaders, Hagel made it clear that the emerging global agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t mean the security threat from Iran is over.
Instead, he laid out steps to beef up defense cooperation in the Gulf region, while at the same time insisting that America’s military commitment to the Middle East will continue.
“I am under no illusions, like all of you, about the daily threats facing this region, or the current anxieties that I know exist here in the Gulf,” Hagel told a security conference. “These anxieties have emerged as the United States pursues diplomatic openings on some of the region’s most difficult problems and most complex issues, including Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict in Syria.”
He said the interim deal is just a first step that has bought time for meaningful negotiations, adding that “all of us are clear-eyed, very clear-eyed about the challenges that remain” to reaching a nuclear solution with Iran.
US intelligence adviser resigns amid discovery he was paid by Chinese co.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A longtime adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has resigned after the government learned he has worked since 2010 as a paid consultant for Huawei Technologies Ltd., the Chinese technology company the U.S. has condemned as an espionage threat, The Associated Press has learned.
Theodore H. Moran, a respected expert on China’s international investment and professor at Georgetown University, had served since 2007 as adviser to the intelligence director’s advisory panel on foreign investment in the United States. Moran also was an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group of 18 senior analysts and policy experts who provide U.S. spy agencies with judgments on important international issues.
The case highlights the ongoing fractious relationship between the U.S. government and Huawei, China’s leading developer of telephone and Internet infrastructure, which has been condemned in the U.S. as a potential national security threat. Huawei has aggressively disputed this, and its chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, has said the company has decided to abandon the U.S. market.
Moran, who had a security clearance granting him access to sensitive materials, was forced to withdraw from those roles after Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., complained in September to the intelligence director, James Clapper, that Moran’s work on an international advisory council for Huawei “compromises his ability to advise your office.”
“It is inconceivable how someone serving on Huawei’s board would also be allowed to advise the intelligence community on foreign investments in the U.S.,” Wolf wrote.
NYC commuter rail line has Tuesday deadline to list lines with speed changes
NEW YORK (AP) — The Metro-North Railroad has until Tuesday to identify places in its system with major speed changes under an order from federal transportation officials requiring an extra worker in the driver’s cab on routes like the one where a speeding commuter train derailed this week, killing four people.
The emergency order by the Federal Railroad Administration, which also requires Metro-North to overhaul its signal system, was a reaction to Sunday’s wreck in the Bronx, where a train flew off the tracks after hitting a curve at 82 mph, nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit. The lone train operator told investigators he nodded at the controls and didn’t apply the brakes until it was too late.
There was no system in place to ensure he didn’t miss the spot where he had to slow down as the curve approached. Engineers are required to know speed restrictions by heart, but there are no flashing lights, or even signs, to remind them to decelerate.
“While we assist the National Transportation Safety Board in carrying out its investigation, this emergency order will help ensure that other Metro-North trains travel at appropriate, safe speeds,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
The order gives the railroad, which operates between New York and Connecticut, until Dec. 31 to provide the Federal Railroad Administration with a plan and target dates for modifying the existing signal system so trains will automatically slow down in places where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph. The federal agency gave the authority until Tuesday to identify all the spots in the system where there are such 20 mph variations.
Not so justified: Timberlake snubbed in top Grammy categories
Justin Timberlake may have earned seven Grammy nominations, but he still has reason to cry himself a river: The pop star was shut out of the top Grammy categories — album, song and record of the year — though his comeback effort, “The 20/20 Experience,” is 2013’s best-selling release.
It might seem a bit much to call the second most nominated act at the Grammys snubbed, but it’s only fitting after Timberlake’s ultra-successful homecoming: The singer had back-to-back, multiplatinum hits with “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors,” launched two successful tours and strategically marketed his return, including a full week on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” deals with iTunes and Target, as well as two film releases.
His “20/20” album, which sold nearly a million discs in its debut week in March, has pushed 2.3 million units this year; the album’s sequel, which was met with mixed reviews, has moved more than 630,000 units since its Sept. 30 release.
Timberlake’s nominations include best pop vocal album, pop solo performance for “Mirrors” and R&B song for “Pusher Love Girl.” He also shares four nominations with Jay Z — who is the Grammy leader with nine nominations — for their hits “Suit & Tie” and “Holy Grail.”
While the rap icon is the frontrunner, he’s nominated twice in two categories, giving him a chance to bring home seven trophies, much like some rap newcomers who are having their Grammy breakthroughs: Kendrick Lamar, the critical darling who impressed on his own songs and by stealing thunder from others on their tracks, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the rap duo who blazed the pop charts with a same sex anthem and a tune about used clothes.
Moving day: Free agents Cano, Beltran, Granderson, Feldman find new homes
The Seattle Mariners shook up baseball’s free-agent market, reaching a rich deal with Robinson Cano on a day when Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson and other familiar names found new homes.
Scott Feldman and Nate McLouth also landed in different spots Friday. Boston slugger Mike Napoli and New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, however, decided to stay put.
A few days before the winter meetings began outside Orlando, Fla., plenty of teams were busy.
The Yankees kept up their dizzying offseason makeover, with All-Stars coming and going — Beltran joined them, Granderson left.
The Mariners made the kind of splash they’ve wanted for nearly a decade. They reached agreement with Cano, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday.
‘Scandal’ cut by 4 episodes this season; move follows word of Kerry Washington’s pregnancy
LOS ANGELES (AP) — ABC says it will air four fewer episodes of “Scandal” than planned this season.
The network on Friday didn’t say why it will broadcast 18 instead of 22 episodes. But the decision follows word that “Scandal” star Kerry Washington and her new husband, football player Nnamdi Asomugha (NAHM’-dee AH’-suhm-wah), are expecting a baby.
The shortened schedule will wrap production early for its pregnant star.
After next Thursday’s episode airs, “Scandal” will take a break and then return in late February with the final episodes of season three.
The drama series about Washington, D.C., intrigue is a ratings hit for ABC and earned an Emmy nomination for its lead actress.