Thursday, March 7, 2013

Published:

UN Security Council approves new sanctions against North Korea for latest nuclear test

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council responded swiftly to North Korea's latest nuclear test by punishing the reclusive regime Thursday with tough, new sanctions targeting its economy and leadership, despite Pyongyang's threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States.

The penalties came in a unanimous resolution drafted by the U.S. along with China, which is North Korea's main benefactor. Beijing said the focus now should be to "defuse the tensions" by restarting negotiations.

The resolution sent a powerful message to North Korea's new young leader, Kim Jong Un, that the international community condemns his defiance of Security Council bans on nuclear and ballistic tests and is prepared to take even tougher action if he continues flouting international obligations.

"Taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."

The new sanctions came in response to North Korea's underground nuclear test on Feb. 12 and were the fourth set imposed by the U.N. since the country's first test in 2006. They are aimed at reining in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development by requiring all countries to freeze financial transactions or services that could contribute to the programs.

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Bin Laden's son-in-law to be among the first senior al-Qaida leaders brought to US for trial

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A senior al-Qaida leader and member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle was charged Thursday with conspiring to kill Americans in his role as the terror network's top propagandist who lauded the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- and warned there would be more.

Officials said Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was born in Kuwait and was bin Laden's son-in-law, was captured in Jordan over the last week. He will appear Friday in U.S. federal court in New York, according to a Justice Department statement and indictment outlining the accusations against Abu Ghaith.

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," Attorney General Eric Holder said in the statement. "To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

The case marks a legal victory for the Obama administration, which has long sought to charge senior al-Qaida suspects in American federal courts instead of holding them at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But it immediately sparked an outcry from Republicans in Congress who do not want high-threat terror suspects brought into the United States.

"If this man, the spokesman of 9/11, isn't an enemy combatant, who is?" Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters. Abu Ghaith "should be going to Gitmo. He should be kept there and questioned."

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10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. NORTH KOREA UPS THE ANTE

Pyongyang says it is canceling its nonagression pact with South Korea. Hours earlier, the communist regime threatened the U.S. with a nuclear strike.

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Hugo Chavez's body will be preserved and put on permanent display, a la Lenin and Mao

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Hugo Chavez's body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders such as Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting head of state, said Chavez would first lie in state for "at least" seven more days before the museum becomes his permanent home. It was not clear when exactly he would be moved from the military academy where his body has been since Wednesday.

Later Thursday, the National Assembly speaker announced that Maduro would be sworn in Friday night as acting president following a state funeral and would call elections within 30 days. That enables him, as the designated governing party candidate, to run for president as Chavez desired. Legal scholars say that under the constitution, the legislature's speaker should instead be sworn in and organize the vote.

More than 30 heads of government, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are to attend the funeral. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, will represent the United States, which Chavez often portrayed as a great global evil even as he sent the country billions of dollars in oil each year.

Maduro said the ceremony would begin at 11 a.m., but did not say where.

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Senate confirms Brennan as CIA director after Paul filibuster, White House statement on drones

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate confirmed John Brennan to be CIA director Thursday after the Obama administration bowed to demands from Republicans blocking the nomination and stated explicitly there are limits on the president's power to use drones against U.S. terror suspects on American soil.

The vote was 63-34 and came just hours after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, held the floor past midnight in an old-style filibuster of the nomination to extract an answer from the administration.

Still, Brennan won some GOP support. Thirteen Republicans voted with 49 Democrats and one independent to give Brennan, who has been President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, the top job at the nation's spy agency. He will replace Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director who has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his biographer.

The confirmation vote came moments after Democrats prevailed in a vote ending the filibuster, 81-16.

In a series of fast-moving events, by Senate standards, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a one-paragraph letter to Paul, who had commanded the floor for nearly 13 hours on Wednesday and into Thursday.

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Senate committee OKs bill against illegal gun purchases, but sharp partisan disputes lay ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In Congress' first gun votes since the Newtown, Conn., nightmare, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to toughen federal penalties against illegal firearms purchases, even as senators signaled that a deep partisan divide remained over gun curbs.

The Democratic-led panel voted 11-7 to impose penalties of up to 25 years for people who legally buy firearms but give them to someone else for use in a crime or to people legally barred from acquiring weapons. The panel's top Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, cast the only GOP vote for the measure.

President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to vote on gun curbs, including the bill approved Thursday, which lawmakers named for Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teenager who was fatally shot days after performing at Obama's inauguration.

Congress should consider those bills "because we need to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, and because Hadiya's family and too many other families really do deserve a vote," he said at an Interior Department ceremony.

The parties' differences were underscored when senators debated a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Democrats have noted that such firearms have been used in many recent mass shootings.

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Coroner says lion escaped from cage and broke woman's neck as she was cleaning his enclosure

DUNLAP, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities said Thursday they believe a lion killed a 24-year-old volunteer at a Central California animal park after it escaped from a feeding cage and attacked her while she was cleaning its larger enclosure area.

Fresno County Coroner David Hadden said Dianna Hanson died instantly when the 550-pound lion broke her neck, apparently with a swipe of a paw.

Investigators believe the 5-year-old male African lion used a paw to lift a partially open door that was meant to keep it in a cage and out of the enclosure while Hanson cleaned, Hadden said.

"The lion had been fed, the young woman was cleaning the large enclosure, and the lion was in the small cage. The gate of the cage was partially open, which allowed the lion called Cous Cous to lift it up with his paw," Hadden said. "He ran at the young lady."

Hadden said Hanson was talking with a co-worker on a cellphone in the moments before she was killed. Hadden said the co-worker became concerned when the conversation ended abruptly and Hanson failed to call back. The co-worker then called authorities when she went to check on Hanson. Sheriff's deputies shot Cous Cous after he couldn't be coaxed away from Hanson's body.

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Fed says tests show 17 of 18 biggest US banks in stronger position to face sharp recession

WASHINGTON (AP) -- All but one of the nation's 18 largest banks are more prepared to withstand a severe U.S. recession and a global downturn than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve says.

Results of the Fed's annual "stress tests" showed Thursday that as a group, the 18 banks hold fewer bad loans compared with last year, thanks to a stronger economy. The Fed will announce next week whether it will approve the banks' plans to increase dividends or repurchase shares.

The Fed's data show that one of the banks, Ally Financial Inc., would have a much lower capital buffer against losses than the others under the most severe scenario. Ally's projected capital level is below the minimum that the Fed considers a bank would need to survive a severe recession.

But Fed officials wouldn't say whether that means it would reject Ally's request for issuing dividends or buying back shares, if Ally were to make one.

Last year, government-owned Ally -- the former financial arm of General Motors -- was the worst-performing bank in the Fed's stress tests. It was one of four banks that failed the tests and were not allowed to raise their dividends or repurchase shares. The others were Citigroup Inc., SunTrust Banks Inc. and MetLife Inc., which has since sold its banking operations and is no longer tested.

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Justin Bieber recovering after fainting backstage at London concert

Justin Bieber is recovering after fainting backstage at a concert in London.

A spokeswoman for Bieber said late Thursday that the 19-year-old pop star was given oxygen and took a 20-minute reprieve after fainting backstage at London's O2 Arena.

"Getting better," Bieber later posted on Twitter. "Thanks for everyone pulling me thru tonight. Best fans in the world. Figuring out what happened. Thanks for the love."

Jazz Chappell, a 20-year-old concertgoer who brought her younger sister and her friend to the show, said a backup dancer helped Bieber off stage after he announced he couldn't breathe and needed water. She said many fans in the audience were gasping and crying, while others kept cheering for him to return.

"I thought, 'Give the guy a break. He just fainted. He's not a performing horse. Let him rest a second,'" said Chappell.

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Joy Behar leaving ABC's 'The View' after 16 seasons

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Joy Behar will be enjoying "The View" for only five more months.

The 70-year-old comedian is leaving the ABC daytime talk show at the end of the current season in August. The network said in a statement Thursday that it wishes Behar "all the best in this next chapter, and are thrilled that we have her for the remainder of the season."

Behar has co-hosted the show for 16 seasons. She was among the first co-hosts with co-creator Barbara Walters when the series debuted in 2006. The current panel includes Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd.

In addition to "The View," Behar hosted "The Joy Behar Show" on HLN from 2009 to 2011 and currently hosts "Joy Behar: Say Anything!" on Current TV, which debuted last year.