Barack Obama headed to Seoul Friday on the second leg of a tour of Asia, as new satellite images suggested North Korea was defiantly readying to stage a nuclear test. Pyongyang's apparent push could further complicate his visit to a country raw with emotion, where around 300 people are dead or missing after a ferry carrying hundreds of school children capsized last week. The US president is expected to offer personal condolences to his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-Hye over the tragedy, but the nation's unpredictable neighbour is set to dominate the agenda. Satellite photos taken just two days ago showed additional activity at the Punggye-ri test site that is "probably related to preparations for a detonation," the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said.
Japan's economy minister said Friday that Tokyo had not reached a basic accord with Washington over a Pacific-wide trade deal despite intense talks after a bilateral summit. There had been hopes that Tokyo and Washington might break an impasse in the stalled talks during US President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo. Speaking hours before Obama's departure, however, Japanese economy minister Akira Amari said what had been achieved was "not a basic accord although there was progress".
The FBI was Thursday hastily seeking to identify victims of a serial pedophile who drugged and molested dozens of children over four decades teaching at international schools around the world. William James Vahey, 64, committed suicide in March in a Minnesota hotel room while the subject of an international sex crimes probe covering his teaching in nine countries, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. "When Vahey was confronted about the images, he reportedly admitted molesting boys throughout his entire life and said he gave the minors sleeping pills prior to the molestation," the FBI said in an alert. Vahey taught overseas from 1972 until days before his death including at private academies that served children of American diplomats and military personnel, as well as locals, according to the FBI.
By Julia Edwards and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is considering small steps in the near term to ease the threat of deportation for some undocumented immigrants, but advocates in communication with the administration expect President Barack Obama to make bigger changes later in the year. With legislation to reform U.S. immigration policy stalled in Congress, Obama has come under increasing pressure from the immigrant community to take executive action to curb the rate of deportation that has reached a record level under his presidency. In the coming weeks, an Obama-ordered review of deportation enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security is expected to conclude that certain steps should be taken to ensure that some immigrants who have not committed serious crimes should be allowed to remain in the United States, according to several sources familiar with the review.
The New York terror trial of British hate preacher Abu Hamza was shown Thursday a startling array of nuclear protective suits, seized along with pistols, daggers and axes from his London mosque. The stash of items impounded by British police and turned over to US authorities was loaded onto a shopping trolley and described to the 12-member jury by a British police witness. David Alexander, of London's Metropolitan Police, said the trove was seized from the top floor of Abu Hamza's Finsbury Park mosque in January 2003 and handed over to the Americans in 2008. In total, items numbering 22 pages were confiscated from the five-storey complex, along with mobile phones, computers, CDs, video and audio tapes, and documents written by Abu Hamza.
US President Barack Obama will encounter a nation mourning one of its worst maritime disasters and on edge over North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship Friday when he flies to South Korea. US intelligence agencies meanwhile are watching and waiting amid indications that North Korea could rattle the peninsula with a fourth nuclear test, in a clear challenge to Obama's strategy of cementing America's role as a Pacific power. "North Korea has engaged in provocative actions for the last several decades. US officials were puzzling over the always unpredictable Kim's next move -- wondering whether he would show his defiance with a blast during Obama's Asian tour or if activity at the North's nuclear sites was a mere propaganda move.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new era of "super PACs" in state campaigns. District Judge Paul Crotty said the statutes could not survive First Amendment scrutiny in light of recent landmark Supreme Court decisions that have lessened restrictions on big-money political donors. "I think there is a risk of quid pro quo corruption, but the Supreme Court has not recognized it," he said during a hearing in Manhattan federal court. "We know what the Supreme Court has held, whether we like it or not, and I'm bound to follow it." The New York laws had limited the amount of money individual donors could contribute to independent political committees, known as super PACs, that operate separately from a candidate's campaign.