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Storm blamed for several deaths as it heads east
Written by ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press   
Sunday, 08 December 2013 06:57

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A late fall cold snap that has gripped much of the country is being blamed for a handful of deaths and has forced people to deal with frigid temperatures, power outages by the thousands and treacherous roads.

Weather forecasters say the powerful weather system has Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic in its icy sights next.

Temperatures in Montana and South Dakota were more than 20 degrees below zero during the day Saturday while much of the Midwest was in the teens and single digits. Wind chill readings could drop as low as 50 below zero in northwestern Minnesota, weather officials said.

Icy conditions were expected to last through the weekend from Texas to Ohio to Tennessee, and Virginia officials warned residents of a major ice storm likely to take shape Sunday, resulting in power outages and hazards on the roads.

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Survivors recall Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Written by AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press   
Sunday, 08 December 2013 06:55

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — For the first time since the war, Alvis Taylor returned to Pearl Harbor and recalled the surprise Japanese air attack that plunged America into World War II.

He was serving as an Army medic when the Dec. 7, 1941 attack began. His superiors, who were doctors, rushed to hospitals to care for the wounded. He went to Pearl Harbor, about 18 miles south of his Army post at Schofield Barracks, with dozens of ambulances.

"I remember everything that happened that day," the 90-year-old Davenport, Iowa, resident said.

Taylor decided to return to Pearl Harbor for the first time since the war because the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America paid for him and his wife to make the trip.

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Pearl Harbor ceremony marks bombing anniversary
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.

 
Macklemore, Lamar muscle into Grammy picture
Written by CHRIS TALBOTT, AP Music Writer   
Saturday, 07 December 2013 07:21

Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.

Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.

Macklemore and Lewis dominated a nominations TV special from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that also included performances by nominees Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lorde and Robin Thicke.

Macklemore and Lewis opened the show with a colorful, high-energy version of their hit "Thrift Shop," featuring Wanz, and immediately picked up a song of the year nomination for "Same Love," featuring Mary Lambert.

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North Korea deports U.S. tourist and Korean War vet
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.

 
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