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Pearl Harbor ceremony marks bombing anniversary PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press   
Saturday, 07 December 2013 07:19

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — About 3,000 people are expected to gather at Pearl Harbor on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.

About 70 World War II veterans and survivors of the Dec. 7 bombing plan to attend the morning ceremony on the shore overlooking a memorial to the USS Arizona battleship that sank during the attack.

The event will begin with a traditional Hawaiian blessing. There will be a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the bombing began 72 years ago. A guided missile destroyer will pass by and render honors to the USS Arizona and its crew.

The Navy and National Park Service are co-hosting the ceremony, which is open to the public. Their theme for the event, "Sound the Alarm," will explore how Americans answered a call to duty in the wake of the attack.

Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

The Vietnam War veteran is now secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is responsible for managing overseas cemeteries for fallen American troops.

The current U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr. will also speak.

Later in the day, Pearl Harbor survivors will join military and government officials in a parade through Waikiki.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
North Korea deports U.S. tourist and Korean War vet PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press   
Saturday, 07 December 2013 07:17

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.

Newman's son, Jeffrey, said he spoke briefly with his father from Beijing and that he was "in excellent spirits and eager to be reunited with his family."

"As you can imagine this has been a very difficult ordeal for us as a family, and particularly for him," he said in a statement read outside his home in Pasadena, adding that they will say more about this unusual journey after Newman has rested.

Last month, Newman read from an awkwardly worded alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing North Koreans during the war. They were his first words since being taken off a plane Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities while preparing to leave the country after a 10-day tour. Analysts questioned whether the statement was coerced, and former South Korean guerrillas who had worked with Newman and fought behind enemy lines during the war disputed some of the details.

Newman's detention highlights the extreme sensitivity with which Pyongyang views the 1950-53 war, which ended without a formal peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula sill technically in a state of war. The conflict is a regular focus of North Korean propaganda and media, which accuse Pyongyang's wartime enemies Washington and Seoul of carrying on the fighting by continuing to push for the North's overthrow.

"In the United States, we revealingly refer to the Korean War as the 'forgotten war.' Most Americans do not realize that memory of the war's violence is at the foundation of North Korean national identity," said Christine Hong, an Asia specialist at the University of California at Santa Cruz who has twice visited North Korea.

Tension remains on the Korean Peninsula, though Pyongyang's angry rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea has toned down compared with its torrent of springtime threats to launch nuclear strikes and restart nuclear bomb fuel production.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf urged Pyongyang to pardon "as a humanitarian gesture" another American, Kenneth Bae, who has been held in the North for more than a year.

Members of the former South Korean guerrilla group said in an interview last week with The Associated Press that Newman was their adviser. Some have expressed surprise that Newman would take the risk of visiting North Korea given his association with their group, which is still remembered with keen hatred in the North. Others were amazed Pyongyang still considered Newman a threat.

"Why did North Korea make such a big fuss?" Park Chan-wu, a former guerrilla who worked with Newman during the war, said Saturday. "It's been 60 years since he worked as our adviser."

The televised statement read last month by Newman said he was attempting to meet surviving guerrilla fighters he had trained during the conflict so he could reconnect them with their wartime colleagues living in South Korea, and that he had criticized the North during his recent trip.

Newman's political value had "expired" for North Korea, said Chang Yong Seok, a senior researcher at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. Newman's written apology and the TV broadcast were enough for Pyongyang to show outsiders that it has maintained its dignity — something the proud country views as paramount, said Chang.

There was relief in Newman's home state of California.

"He's a genuine and generous man, and we're all so relieved that he's coming home," said Dan Haifley, executive director of O'Neill Sea Odyssey, an ocean exploration program in Santa Cruz that the Newmans have supported.

Jeffrey Newman has previously said that his father, an avid traveler and retired finance executive from California, had always wanted to return to the country where he fought during the Korean War.

Before Newman, North Korea detained at least six Americans since 2009. Five of them have been either released or deported after prominent Americans like former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter travelled to Pyongyang.

"The release is vintage North Korea," Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Hawaii, said of Newman. "They always try to capture the attention away from something that might make (South Korea) look good and get the spotlight on them instead. Normally they do this by doing something negative. At least in this instance, it was a positive gesture."

___

Associated Press writers Eun-Young Jeong, Hyung-jin Kim and Josh Lederman in Seoul, Martha Mendoza in California, Didi Tang and Aritz Parra in Beijing contributed to this report.

___

Follow Foster Klug on Twitter at www.twitter.com/APklug


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
More of U.S. expected to see snow, sleet, ice PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press   
Saturday, 07 December 2013 07:16

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — After cold rain and winds lashed the Southwest and other parts of the country Friday, millions of residents hunkered down for icy conditions expected to last through the weekend as the cold snap was forecast to continue causing problems and trekking northeast.

Face-stinging sleet, thick snow and blustery winds led to slick road conditions, school closures, power outages and event cancellations as the wintry blast dropped temperatures to freezing and below from Texas to Ohio to Tennessee on Friday.

In California, four people died of hypothermia in the San Francisco Bay Area while the region was gripped by freezing temperatures.

The weather created a strangely blank landscape out of normally sun-drenched North Texas: Mostly empty highways were covered in a sometimes impassable frost.

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Dow jumps 200 points after strong jobs report PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer   
Friday, 06 December 2013 16:07

NEW YORK (AP) — Good news was finally good news for the stock market on Friday.

Stocks rose sharply in afternoon trading after a fourth straight month of solid U.S. job gains, the latest encouraging sign for the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 200 points, or 1.3 percent, at 16,020 as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern time.

The rise snapped a five-day losing streak, with the strengthening job market shifting the focus of investors to growth rather than the fate of the Federal Reserve's huge stimulus program.

Stocks had been falling this week after a series of positive economic reports made investors worry that the Fed would soon pull back on its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low and supported the stock market.

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Smoke in W.Va. school sends 37 people to hospitals PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 06 December 2013 16:04

TUNNELTON, W.Va. (AP) — Smoke from an outdoor furnace at a northern West Virginia auto repair shop drifted into a nearby elementary school's ventilation system Friday, and authorities said 37 people were taken to hospitals.

Preston County Assistant Superintendent Craig Schmidl said classes were dismissed Friday at Tunnelton-Denver Elementary School.

In a news release, the Preston County emergency services office said it received a call at 10:38 a.m. that a few students in one of the classrooms were having respiratory problems. After rescue units arrived, the number of patients "took a dramatic increase." They were taken to four area hospitals

Schmidl said many of the students taken to the hospital were in one of two modular units adjacent to the school's main building. Smoke from the furnace got pulled into the school's ventilation system.

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