Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission WASHINGTON (AP) - An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA - but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found. The CIA paid Robert Levinson's family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined.
NKorea executes leader's uncle as a traitor PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korea said Friday that it had 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 official. In a sharp reversal of the long-held popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, the North's official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim Jong Il in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power.
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.
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Family feud: Boehner takes on GOP critics on right WASHINGTON (AP) - After years of bitter friction within Republican circles, House Speaker John Boehner is lashing out against hard-line conservative and tea party groups - the latest GOP establishment figure to join the increasingly public battle roiling the party. For the second day in a row - but at greater length and with more passion - the Ohio Republican on Thursday lit into groups such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth. Though naming no names, he accused such groups and others of stirring up opposition on the right to a budget bill worked out with Democrats that would replace some across-the-board spending cuts now in place with longer-term savings.
House OKs defense bill dealing with sexual assault WASHINGTON (AP) - The House overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive defense policy bill Thursday that aims to stem the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military, cover the cost of combat pay for the nation's war-fighters, and fund new aircraft and ships. The strong bipartisan vote was 350-69, and puts pressure on the Senate to act before it adjourns next week.
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.
Mysterious 'white widow' eludes police in Africa AYLESBURY, England (AP) - She is called the most wanted woman in the world, a suspected terrorist charged with plotting to blow up resort hotels in Kenya packed with Christmas tourists, a Westerner who wrote an ode praising Osama bin Laden, a jihadist who has eluded the law even as she has traveled through Africa with four young children in tow. Samantha Lewthwaite's saga is one of betrayal and revenge in a murky world where, somehow, a white woman born to a British soldier becomes a Muslim convert and then an international fugitive accused of conspiracy.
Federal data show health disparities among states JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Residents in some parts of the U.S. are signing up for health care coverage at a significantly greater rate than others through the new online insurance marketplaces now operating in every state. The discrepancy may trace back to the political leanings of their elected leaders.
Officials: US drone strike kills 13 in Yemen SANAA, Yemen (AP) - Missiles fired by a U.S. drone slammed into a convoy of vehicles traveling to a wedding party in central Yemen on Thursday, killing at least 13 people, Yemeni security officials said. The officials said the attack took place in the city of Radda, the capital of Bayda province, and left charred bodies and burnt out cars on the road. The city, a stronghold of al-Qaida militants, witnessed deadly clashes early last year between armed tribesmen backed by the military and al-Qaida gunmen in an attempt to drive them out of the city.
Holiday shopping spree not for everyone NEW YORK (AP) - Many Americans are watching the annual holiday spending ritual from the sidelines this year. Money is still tight for some. Others are fed up with commercialism of the holidays. Still others are waiting for bigger bargains.