South African police prepare for Mandela ceremony JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Workers busily constructed a stage Monday at the Soweto soccer stadium where world leaders will eulogize Nelson Mandela before tens of thousands of mourners, as police promised tight security. Nearly 100 heads of state are expected to assemble at the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium for the memorial Tuesday to the anti-apartheid icon. Mandela made his last public appearance at the same stadium for the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup, when the venue was called Soccer City.
Purge sends chilling message to NKorea's elite SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - While the rest of North Korea's top brass leaped to their feet before Kim Jong Un, clapping wildly in a requisite show of respect at high-level meetings, his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, often seemed nonchalant, at times even bored. Once considered the force behind the young leader, he displayed a bold insouciance that seemed calculated to show he was beyond reach. So by purging his own uncle, Kim has delivered a more chilling message: No one is beyond reach, not even family.
Big storm dumps snow on East Coast, travel dicey PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A plodding storm that dumped heavy snow on the unsuspecting Mid-Atlantic region left roads slippery and slushy in the Northeast for Monday's commute while travel disruptions continued rippling across the country days after the same system first began wreaking havoc in the skies. The storm that coated parts of Texas in ice struck with unexpected force Sunday on the East Coast, blanketing some spots in a foot of snow, grinding highways to a halt, causing power outages, and closing schools or delaying start times. The federal government was allowing workers to arrive up to two hours later than normal Monday or take unscheduled leave as freezing rain fell.
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Rising riches: 1 in 5 in US reaches affluence WASHINGTON (AP) - It's not just the wealthiest 1 percent. Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America's economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation's income inequality.
Congress ready to extend ban on plastic firearms WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate vote to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms capable of evading metal detectors and X-ray machines is shaping up as a bittersweet moment for gun control supporters, days before the anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Monday's vote to extend the prohibition on plastic guns for another decade responds to a growing threat from steadily improving 3-D printers that can produce such weapons. But gun control advocates seem sure to lose an effort to impose additional, tougher restrictions on plastic firearms - a harsh reminder of their failure to enact any new federal gun curbs in the year since 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered in Newtown, Conn.
Thai PM dissolves Parliament, calls elections BANGKOK (AP) - Desperate to defuse Thailand's deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of Parliament on Monday and called for early elections. But the moves did nothing to stem a growing tide of more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow her in one of the nation's largest demonstrations in years. Analysts said the steps came too late and are unlikely to satisfy opponents who want to rid Thailand of her powerful family's influence. The protesters are pushing for a non-elected "people's council" to replace her democratically elected government.
Riot police deploy near protest sites in Kiev KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Hundreds of police in full riot gear flooded into the center of Kiev on Monday as mass anti-government protests gripped the Ukrainian capital for yet another week, raising fears of an imminent crackdown. President Viktor Yanukovych has faced over three weeks of protests after shelving a treaty with the European Union to focus on ties with Moscow. The protests were galvanized after police violently dispersed some of the demonstrators. Sunday's demonstration by hundreds of thousands was the largest since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution protests that annulled Yanukovych's presidential victory due to voting fraud.
Amish school shooter's kin: Horror, then healing STRASBURG, Pa. (AP) - Once a week, Terri Roberts spends time with a 13-year-old Amish girl named Rosanna who sits in a wheelchair and eats through a tube. Roberts bathes her, sings to her, reads her stories. She can only guess what's going on inside Rosanna's mind because the girl can't talk. Roberts' son did this to her.
Tech giants call for controls on gov't snooping LONDON (AP) - Major technology companies, stung by poor publicity for having helped the U.S. government access personal data, on Monday issued an open letter to President Barack Obama asking for tighter controls on surveillance. As part of a global campaign to reform data collection, Google, Facebook, Apple and others said that concerns over national security should be weighed against individual rights.
Study: Erratic TV violence ratings fail parents LOS ANGELES (AP) - Violent dramas on the broadcast networks carry milder parental cautions than cable shows like "The Walking Dead" but can equal them in graphic gore, a failure of the TV ratings system, a new study found. Scenes of stabbings, shootings, rape, decapitation and mutilation invariably received a TV-14 "parents strongly cautioned" rating on network TV, according to the Parents Television Council study released Monday.