In brief: North Korea names new military leader
PYONGYANG, North Korea – The official Korean Central News Agency says North Korea has named a new vice marshal.
Hyon Yong Chol was named vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army, the agency said today.
The appointment was made by the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the National Defense Commission of North Korea, the agency said.
The announcement comes two days after the dismissal of Ri Yong Ho, a guardian figure who had appeared often at the side of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Ri was vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army and chief of the military’s general staff.
Teen convicted in girl’s beating
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A jury on Monday convicted a teenager of attempted murder in a vicious kicking and stomping attack on a girl outside a middle school in 2010, rejecting his claims of insanity.
The jury deliberated just over four hours before returning the guilty verdict in the trial of Wayne Treacy in the attack on then-15-year-old Josie Lou Ratley. Treacy, 17, could get up to 50 years in prison for the conviction of attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon – the steel-toed boots he used to nearly crush the girl’s skull.
The crux of the case was whether jurors would buy Treacy’s defense that he was not responsible because he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his brother’s suicide a few months before. The March 2010 attack happened after Ratley enraged Treacy by sending him a taunting text message about his dead brother.
Experts on both sides agreed Treacy has PTSD. But prosecution psychiatrists testified that Treacy clearly knew right from wrong and understood the consequences of his actions.
Produce safety testing program survives
SAN FRANCISCO – The Agriculture Department grudgingly extended the life of the nation’s largest produce safety testing program Monday, just as the initiative was slated to be shut down.
The tiny program samples thousands of high-risk fruits and vegetables for pathogens every year, and has found more than two dozen bacteria-laced examples that prompted recalls.
It was at risk of being scrapped after President Barack Obama’s proposed budget slashed the effort’s funding earlier this year. But USDA spokesman Justin DeJong said Monday that the Microbiological Data Program will continue operating through December, using existing agreements with the states to keep testing for salmonella, E. coli and listeria over the next six months.
Public health officials and food safety advocates have long argued that getting rid of the program would leave the country without a crucial tool used to investigate outbreaks of deadly foodborne illnesses.
More states vetting voters get data access
OLYMPIA – The federal government is expanding access to an immigration database so that several states can use it to cleanse voter rolls, officials said Monday.
Homeland Security Department representatives first notified Florida officials last week that they could check to see if registered voters are actually noncitizens who should not be eligible to cast a ballot. State officials said Monday that the department is now offering similar access to other states.
Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler had renewed his request for the data last week. Elections leaders in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah had signed on to Gessler’s request.
The data work is supposed to help states identify people who may be legal residents but not citizens.
Washington state has been requesting the data since the Bush administration. Shane Hamlin, the co-director of elections in Washington, said state officials aren’t getting full access to the database that they had sought but that they were pleased with the development.