More purges may follow execution of Kim's uncle PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - The execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle brought a swift and violent end to a man long considered the country's second most powerful. But while Jang Song Thaek is now gone, the fallout from his purge is not over. In a stunning reversal of the popular image of Jang as a mentor and father figure guiding young Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, North Korea's state-run media on Friday announced he had been executed and portrayed him as a morally corrupt traitor who saw the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 as an opportunity to make his own power play.
Leader's uncle rose to No. 2 in North Korea SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Jang Song Thaek rose from a municipal bureaucrat to North Korea's No. 2 official - behind only leader Kim Jong Un. But his ties were more than political: Jang was Kim's uncle, married to the leader's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui.
S. Africa investigates sign interpreter JOHANNESBURG (AP) - The South African government said Friday it is aware of reports that the bogus sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial once faced a murder charge, and said he is being investigated. Phumla Williams of the government communications office said the government is investigating Thamsanqa Jantjie and how he was selected to interpret at a memorial Tuesday at which he stood close to U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders.
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American missing 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.
House GOP conservatives help propel budget bill WASHINGTON (AP) - After a sweeping vote by conservative Republicans controlling the House and President Barack Obama's Democratic allies, a bipartisan budget pact is in the hands of the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from Republicans. The modest package passed by the House on Thursday would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.
Chaos, gunbattles, hungry kids in C. African Rep. BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) - French troops backed by a helicopter traded fire with suspected rebels in a tense Bangui neighborhood on Friday, as France's military chief arrived in Central African Republic to see how his troops are doing trying to stabilize the lawless country. The violence that has left the country verging on anarchy showed few signs of abating Friday in the capital's Miskine neighborhood, where about a dozen Muslim men with machetes faced off against a group of Christian youths.
Shaken not stirred: Did 007 have alcoholic tremor? LONDON (AP) - He may have a license to kill, but is he sober enough to shoot? British doctors who carefully read Ian Fleming's series of James Bond novels say the celebrated spy regularly drank more than four times the recommended limit of alcohol per week. Their research was published in the light-hearted Christmas edition of the medical journal BMJ on Thursday.
Army, Air Force to honor WWII pilot at burial DENVER (AP) - The Army will provide full military honors and Air Force jets will perform a fly-over when a World War II pilot who died in 1945 is buried at a veterans cemetery in Denver. Army Air Forces Capt. Franklin B. Tostevin of Westfield, N.J., crashed in 1945 on a reconnaissance mission in Germany. His nephew, Daniel Tostevin of Erie, Colo., says it was his 159th reconnaissance flight.
Multiple people stabbed after Denver football game DENVER (AP) - At least three people were stabbed in a parking lot at Sports Authority Stadium Field at Mile High after the Denver Broncos' game Thursday night. Police spokesman Steve Warneke said three males were stabbed, and a fourth may have been stabbed, but that person left the scene.
Beyonce releases new iTunes-exclusive album NEW YORK (AP) - Beyonce has released her new album in an unconventional way: She announced and dropped it on the same day. The singer released "Beyonce" exclusively on iTunes early Friday. She mirrors how Jay Z released "Magna Carta Holy Grail" earlier this year - through a deal with Samsung where he gave the album to 1 million users of Galaxy mobile phones days before its official release.