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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.

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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.


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Americans riding public transit in record numbers
Written by JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:11

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

Transit ridership has now fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored following economy-driven cutbacks, ridership numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

"People are making a fundamental shift to having options" aside from a car in how they get around, said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the public transportation association. "This is a long-term trend. This isn't just a blip."

Expanding bus and train networks help spur the growth.

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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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Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 10 March 2014 06:11

EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — A very strong earthquake rattled the Northern California coast and was widely felt across the region, but authorities said early Monday that there were no reports of any injuries or damages.

The magnitude 6.9 quake struck at 10:18 p.m. PDT Sunday and was centered 50 miles west of Eureka and about four miles beneath the Pacific seabed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by about a half-dozen aftershocks, including one of magnitude 4.6.

The quake was felt widely across the region but both fire and sheriff's officials in Humboldt County, which includes most of the populated areas near the epicenter, said early Monday more than four hours after the quake hit that they had no reports of any damage or injuries.

The National Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami danger for the region.

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