SEOUL, South Korea

President honoring vow to reach out to Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s first public, senior-level mention of South Korea’s first female president ended up being a sexist crack. The body that controls Pyongyang’s military complained Wednesday about the “venomous swish” of her skirt.

But despite that swipe, and a continuing torrent of rhetoric from Pyongyang threatening nuclear war and other mayhem, President Park Geun-hye is sticking by her campaign vow to reach out to North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, and to send the country much-needed humanitarian aid.

Public frustration with the last five years of North-South relations, which saw North Korean nuclear tests, long-range rocket launches and attacks that left dozens of South Koreans dead, is a big part of the reason Park is trying to build trust with Pyongyang, even as she and South Korea’s military promise to respond forcefully to any attack from the North.

Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, infuriated North Korea by linking aid and concessions to what turned out to be nonexistent progress on North Korea’s past commitments to abandon its atomic weapons ambitions. In doing so, he reversed past liberal governments’ policy of providing huge aid shipments with few strings attached.

Like Lee, Park is a member of South Korea’s main conservative party, but she has promised to find a middle ground by re-engaging Pyongyang through aid shipments, reconciliation talks and the resumption of some large-scale economic initiatives as progress occurs on the nuclear issue.


Monarch butterfly migration numbers fall to 20-year low

The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico dropped 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago, scientists reported Wednesday.

It was the third straight year of declines for the orange-and-black butterflies that migrate from the United States and Canada to spend the winter in mountaintop fir forests in central Mexico. Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997.

The decline now marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events, the experts said.

But they differed on the possible causes.

Illegal logging in the reserve established in the monarch wintering grounds was long thought to contribute, but such logging has been vastly reduced by increased protection, enforcement and alternative development programs in Mexico.

The World Wildlife Fund, one of the groups that sponsored the butterfly census, blamed climate conditions and agricultural practices, especially the use of pesticides that kill off the monarchs’ main food source, milkweed. The butterflies breed and live in the north in summer, and migrate to Mexico in winter.


Survey: More working moms interested in full-time jobs

Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, and tough economic times might be a big reason, according to a national survey.

In the Pew Research Center study being released Thursday, researchers saw a big spike in the share of working mothers who said they’d prefer to work full time; 37 percent said that was their ideal, up from 21 percent in 2007.

The poll comes amid a national debate on women in the workplace ignited by top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who writes in a new book about the need for women to be more professionally aggressive.

The shift toward full-time work in the Pew poll, however, coincides with the recession and may have less to do with career ambitions than with financial realities.

Among women who said their financial situations aren’t sufficient to meet basic expenses, about half said working full time was best for them. Of the women who said they live comfortably, only 31 percent said full time was their best situation.


Arrests multiply as probe into vets charity continues

Florida’s lieutenant governor resigned and nearly 60 other people were charged in a widening scandal of a purported veterans charity that authorities said Wednesday was a $300 million front for illegal gambling.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s resignation came a day after she was questioned in the investigation. Her public relations firm did work for the St. Augustine-based charity Allied Veterans of the World, but she has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Authorities said the probe involved 57 arrest warrants and 54 search warrants issued at gambling operations in 23 Florida counties and five other states: South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said charges, which will be formally filed next week, include racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of slot machines.

“It’s callous and it’s despicable,” Bondi said of the alleged scam, which she said “insults every American who ever wore a military uniform.”


Recipient of five organs world’s first to give birth

Miami doctors say they believe a five-organ transplant patient is the first to deliver a baby, making her the first reported case in the world.

Fatema Al Ansari was 19 and living in Qatar when she was diagnosed with a blood clot in a major vein to the intestine.

In 2007, she underwent surgery at Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami and was given a new liver, pancreas, stomach and small and large intestine.

Five years later, she gave birth to a girl.

Al Ansari faced some complications during pregnancy, but her doctors say she is capable of having more children.

Al Ansari says it’s “the best feeling in the world” to be a mother.

Her doctors add there are no reported cases of a five-organ transplant patient in the world giving birth.


Woman holding baby leaps eight stories; baby survives

A woman clutching her baby son in her arms plunged eight stories out of an apartment window to her death in an apparent suicide on Wednesday, but the baby survived, police said.

Cynthia Wachenheim was found on the street with her son, 10-month-old Keston, nearby. A police officer who responded took the baby to a hospital, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.

Police discovered a seven-page suicide note in which the 45-year-old said she recognized what she was about to do was “evil” but she was concerned about how her child was developing, an official said.

It was unclear whether the baby had any mental or physical problems.