SEOUL, South Korea

Google executive traveling to North Korea on mission

Google’s executive chairman is preparing to travel to one of the last frontiers of cyberspace: North Korea.

Eric Schmidt will be traveling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The sources, two people familiar with the group’s plans, asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public.

The trip would be the first by a top executive from U.S.-based Google, the world’s largest Internet search provider, to a country considered to have the most restrictive Internet policies on the planet.

North Korea is in the midst of what leader Kim Jong Un called a modern-day “industrial revolution” in a New Year’s Day speech to the nation Monday. He is pushing science and technology as a path to economic development for the impoverished country, aiming for computers in every school and digitized machinery in every factory.

However, giving citizens open access to the Internet has not been part of the North’s strategy. While some North Koreans can access a domestic Intranet service, very few have clearance to freely surf the World Wide Web.

It’s highly unlikely Google will push to launch a business venture in North Korea, according to Victor Cha, a former senior Asia specialist in the administration of President George W. Bush.

“Perhaps the most intriguing part of this trip is simply the idea of it,” said Cha, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

BEIRUT, Lebanon

Kidnapped U.S. journalist missing since Thanksgiving

An American journalist has been missing in Syria since he was kidnapped more than one month ago, his family said Wednesday, less than two years after he was held by government forces in Libya while covering that country’s civil war.

The family of James Foley of Rochester, N.H., said he was kidnapped in northwest Syria by unknown gunmen on Thanksgiving.

Foley, 39, has worked in a number of conflict zones around the Middle East. He was contributing videos to Agence France-Press while in Syria.

Foley’s disappearance highlights the risks to reporters seeking to cover the civil war from inside Syria.

The Syrian government rarely gives visas to journalists and often limits the movements of those it allows in. This has prompted a number of reporters to sneak into the country with the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Some have been killed or wounded while others have disappeared.

MIAMI

Naked intruder chokes dog, bites homeowner, is shot

Police say a Miami man jumped a fence – naked, no less – of a Little Haiti home and began choking a Rottweiler. The dog’s yelps awakened the homeowner, who came outside – armed, no less – and confronted the attacker.

The intruder, who was later identified as 20-year-old Jeffery Delice, turned his attention from the dog to the homeowner. Delice jumped on the homeowner and began choking and biting him, Miami police said.

Fearing for his life, the homeowner fired his gun twice, hitting Delice once in the foot.

Despite being wounded, Delice did not give up the fight. Finally, the homeowner was able to pin Delice down while relatives called police.

– From news service reports