A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was burned by protesters during an anti-North Korea rally in Seoul, South Korea, that marked the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death. The anniversary followed the unusual public announcement last week of the execution of the current leader’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, which raised speculation about turmoil within the North Korean leadership. The younger Kim attended a memorial ceremony honoring his late father.
High school shooter targeted five areas
The shooter who entered Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., targeted five separate areas of the building and wrote “The die has been cast” in Latin on his arm, an indication of his plan of attack, authorities said. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson gave new details on last week’s violence at the school that left one girl in a coma in critical condition and the shooter, Karl Pierson, dead by his own hand. According to the sheriff’s office, Pierson, 18, entered the building on Friday with a 12-gauge shotgun, a machete, three functional incendiary devices and 125 rounds of ammunition. He opened fire as soon as he entered, hitting Claire Davis, 17.
Jury told to continue deliberating in BP trial
Jurors told a federal judge that they are having difficulty reaching a verdict in the trial of a former BP engineer charged with trying to obstruct a probe of the company’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. instructed the 12 jurors to continue deliberating. Prosecutors say Kurt Mix, 52, of Katy, Texas, deleted text messages from a supervisor and a BP contractor to conceal them from a grand jury. Mix didn’t testify. Each of two counts of obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Spacewalks ordered to replace broken pump
NASA has ordered up a series of urgent spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line at the International Space Station. Two American astronauts will replace a pump with a bad valve. It will require spacewalks on Saturday, Monday and Christmas Day. “The next week will be busy with spacewalks so not much tweeting from here,” NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio tweeted from space soon after the decision was announced. Half of the station’s cooling system shut down last Wednesday, forcing the six-man crew to turn off all nonessential equipment. The station crew includes three Russians, one Japanese and the two Americans.
Merkel begins third term with new clout
Angela Merkel, Germany’s first female leader, was sworn in for her third term, underlining her dominance on the political scene in Europe’s biggest economy. Merkel, 59, returns to power at a time when the region has yet to get back on its feet fully from its still-unresolved debt crisis, and as Germany’s relations with the United States continue to suffer over revelations that American spies tapped her phone and collected electronic data on ordinary Germans. She will preside over a “grand coalition” uniting her Christian Democratic Union with its archrival, the center-left Social Democrats, who finished second in the election.