SEOUL, South Korea

North Korean artillery firing follows S. Korean naval drills

North Korea fired about 110 rounds of artillery Monday near its disputed sea border with South Korea, the South’s military said, amid tension over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on North Korea.

The firing came shortly after South Korea ended five-day naval drills that the North called a rehearsal for an invasion, vowing to retaliate.

All the artillery shells harmlessly landed into the North’s waters and caused no damage to the South, a South Korean Joint Chief of Staff officer said on condition of anonymity.

South Korea considered the firing to be part of a military drill by North Korea but still bolstered its military readiness against further provocation, the officer said. The South also warned Pyongyang over the firing by naval radio, he said.


Committee accuses Waters of three ethics violations

The House ethics committee Monday announced three counts of alleged ethics violations against 10-term Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., including a charge that she requested federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on its board.

Waters has denied any wrongdoing and had urged the committee to present details of the charges so that she can defend herself in a trial expected to take place this fall.

That trial would be the second handled by the panel this fall. Another senior Democrat, ex-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, faces 13 counts.

The Waters case centers on whether she helped OneUnited Bank obtain federal bailout funds in late 2008. Her husband, Sidney Williams, was on OneUnited’s board of directors from January 2004 until April 2008, and was a stockholder in the bank.


EPA moves to limit mercury, other cement plant pollutants

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday finalized regulations limiting the release of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from cement plants, a move the Obama administration said will save lives but that cement makers warned could drive jobs overseas.

This is the first time the government has restricted emissions from existing cement kilns. The regulations aim to cut annual emissions of mercury and particulate matter by 92 percent by 2013; hydrochloric acid, 97 percent; and sulfur dioxide, 78 percent.

EPA officials said the limits would benefit children, whose brains can be damaged by mercury that makes its way through the air to water to fish that children eat.


Russia, U.S. chase airplane in terrorist hijacking drill

U.S., Canadian and Russian military officers directed fighter jets and ground controllers to test how well they could track an international terrorist hijacking over the Pacific.

A chartered American jet code-named Fencing 1220 sent a mock distress signal shortly after taking off from Anchorage, Alaska, on Sunday, triggering a pursuit by at least seven fighters.

Participants included a Russian air force colonel and a senior commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the joint U.S.-Canadian command that patrols the skies over North America.

Their goal: to ensure that two militaries still distrustful of each other can work effectively tackling a terror threat that worries both nations.

A question that arose Sunday was how much information they need — from the ground, the fighters, the hijacked pilots and the terrorists – and whether fewer messages might be better than the flood of communication the exercise generated.


Doctor convicted of plotting attack on medical board chief

A federal jury Monday convicted a doctor of masterminding a bombing attack against the head of the state medical board last year, despite the absence of forensic evidence tying the defendant to the crime.

Dr. Randeep Mann could get life in prison for his role in the attack on Dr. Trent Pierce outside Pierce’s West Memphis home Feb. 4, 2009. Pierce was disfigured and partially blinded.

Prosecutors say Mann was bitter at the board for repeatedly sanctioning him for overprescribing prescription pain medication, so he decided to exact revenge on Pierce.

They told jurors they don’t believe Mann planted the bomb, but they believe he put someone else up to it. Nobody has been charged with planting the bomb.


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