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U.S. network to scan workers with secret clearances
Written by STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:41

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers, and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.

Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could continuously monitor employees, in part to prevent cases similar to former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. His disclosures bared secretive U.S. surveillance operations.

An administration review of the government's security clearance process due this month is expected to support continuous monitoring as part of a package of comprehensive changes.

Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that continuous electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals' private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk. Supporters say the system would have safeguards.

'Slain' Mexico cartel leader dies a second time
Written by ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON, Associated Press KATHERINE CORCORAN, Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:23

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Cartel kingpin Nazario Moreno Gonzalez had two lives.

One ended in late 2010 when the leader of a vicious drug gang ruling the western state of Michoacan was supposedly killed by federal police. The second ended just after his 44th birthday, when he died in a shootout with government troops early Sunday.

The federal government had something Sunday that was missing the first time — his body.

In Mexico's campaign to take down top capos, the killing of a supposed dead man was the most bizarre event yet, even after the capture two weeks ago of Mexico's most wanted and powerful drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, another near-mythical figure who surrendered without a fight after 13 year on the run since escaping from prison.

Residents of Michoacan had reported seeing Moreno, known as the "The Craziest One," around the state since the government reported he was killed in a two-day gunbattle with federal police in December 2010, though authorities conceded they never found his body.

Nuns freed after hostage ordeal arrive in Damascus
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:18

DAMASCUS (AP) — Syria's state-run news agency says that Greek Orthodox nuns who were freed Monday after being held hostage for months by al-Qaida linked Syrian rebels have arrived in Damascus.

The agency said that the 13 nuns reached the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Qassaa in the Syrian capital to a popular welcome by residents.

The nuns were released early Monday in a rare deal between the Syrian government and rebels of the Nusra Front. About 150 imprisoned Syrian women will be released in exchange for the nuns' freedom.

The nuns, along with 3 other women, were taken from their convent in the Christian-dominated town of Maaloula during clashes in December.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

North Korea: Not a single vote cast against Kim Jong Un
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:20

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100 percent turnout.

North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years.

Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea's media quickly reported Kim had won in his district — located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu — without a single dissenting ballot.

In the previous elections, 687 deputies were chosen. This is first time the election had been held since Kim inherited power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011.

Investigators chasing 'every angle' on missing jet
Written by EILEEN NG, Associated Press JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:13

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Dozens of ships and aircraft have failed to find any piece of the missing Boeing 777 jet that vanished more than two days ago above waters south of Vietnam as investigators pursued "every angle" to explain its disappearance, including hijacking, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said Monday.

Malaysian maritime officials found some oil slicks in the South China Sea and sent a sample to a lab to see if it came from the plane, the Department of Civil Aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, told a news conference.

Hundreds of distraught relatives were gathered in a hotel in Beijing, waiting to be flown to Malaysia. Of the 227 passengers, two-thirds were Chinese. There were also 38 passengers and 12 crew members from Malaysia, and others from elsewhere in Asia, Europe and North America, including three Americans.

"We accept God's will. Whether he is found alive or dead, we surrender to Allah," said Selamat Omar, a Malaysian whose 29-year-old son Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat was heading to Beijing for a business trip. He said he was expecting a call from his son after the flight's scheduled arrival time at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Instead he got a call from the airline to say the plane was missing.

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