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April 4, 2013 at 12:10 PM
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Chemical unit returns as threats escalate

SEOUL, April 4 (UPI) -- In what is said to be a coincidental move, U.S. troops specialized in nuclear, biological and chemical attacks arrived Thursday in South Korea, officials said.

The arrival of the 23rd Chemical Battalion came only hours after North Korea announced its military had been green-lighted to use nuclear weapons on U.S. targets, Stars and Stripes reported.

The U.S. Army announced in October the 250-member unit would relocate from a base in McCord, Wash., where it had been stationed for eight years.

North Korea is believed to have an extensive stockpile of biochemical weapons.

South Korea's defense chief said Thursday North Korea had moved a missile with "considerable" range to its east coast, The New York Times reported.

The missile was not considered capable of hitting the United States, but Pyongyang said Thursday its military had been authorized to "take powerful practical military counteractions" against U.S. military aircraft that recently overflew the peninsula during joint military exercises with South Korea.

The actions were the latest in a political chess game between the communist country and the South Korean-U.S. alliance.

The Pentagon said Wednesday the U.S. Army is speeding a mobile missile defense system to Guam to protect U.S. forces in the Pacific from a possible North Korean attack.

Deploying the sophisticated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system to the U.S. territory two years ahead of schedule is "a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat," the Pentagon said.

The land-based missile system, designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, is expected to be fully deployed in Guam in the next few weeks, the Pentagon said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pyongyang's threats had escalated to "a real and clear danger" to the United States and to its regional allies.

Hagel specifically cited "the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States."

"We have to take those threats seriously," he said.

Despite the concern, Pyongyang has not established its missiles can hit Guam or Hawaii, much less the U.S. mainland, the Los Angeles Times said. It is also not clear if North Korea has a nuclear warhead small enough to be carried on its missiles, the Times said.

North Korea's state news agency quoted an unnamed military spokesman Wednesday as saying the North's military had been cleared to attack using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons and Pyongyang had "ratified" plans for a "merciless" nuclear operation against the United States.

The "moment of explosion is approaching fast" and war could break out "today or tomorrow," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

The North announced Tuesday it would resume operations to produce weapons-grade plutonium at a formerly shuttered nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

Photographs published Wednesday on the website 38 North, which follows North Korean developments, show new construction at the aging reactor, dating back several weeks.

Funerals for teens, inmate cause rioting

HEBRON, West Bank, April 4 (UPI) -- Rioting erupted in the West Bank Thursday as funerals for two Palestinian teens shot by Israeli military and a Palestinian prisoner were held, witnesses said.

Security forces were on high alert for violence, especially in Hebron, where the funeral for Palestinian prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, was held, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Two autopsies conducted by Israel and the Palestinian Authority confirmed that Hamdiyeh died of esophageal cancer in Soroka University Medical Center Tuesday. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for his role in an attempted bombing of a restaurant in Jerusalem's German Colony. After his death, he was hailed as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.

The cancer diagnosis did not ease tensions among prisoners who criticized Israeli authorities for their handling of his case, Ynetnews.com said.

In a statement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the death of the terminally ill prisoner.

Violence broke out immediately in the West Bank after Hamdiyeh's death.

The two teens were killed when Israeli troops fired live ammunition in reaction to an attack on a guard station Wednesday. Their funeral was conducted in their hometown of Anabta Thursday.

The Post said rioting, demonstrations and marches were reported across the West Bank.

Palestinian businesses called a strike, closing shops in Hebron, Nablus and East Jerusalem, the newspaper said.

On Tuesday, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began for a three-day hunger strike to demonstrate solidarity with Hamdiyeh. A prison representative said 4,620 prisoners sent back all of their meals Wednesday.


'Craigslist Killer' sentenced to death

AKRON, Ohio, April 4 (UPI) -- The so-called "Craigslist Killer" was sentenced to death Thursday by an Ohio judge for killing three men officials said had responded to Internet ads.

Summit County Judge Lynne Callahan upheld the death sentence recommended by a jury after Richard Beasley, 53, was convicted last month of the men's murders, WXIX-TV, Cleveland, reported.

Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massilon were killed by Beasley and Brogan Rafferty, 16, when the men responded to an ad for a farm hand posted on the Internet classifieds site.

Beasley also was convicted of the attempted murder of Scott Davis, who escaped and notified police after being shot in the arm.

Rafferty was convicted of related crimes last year and sentenced to life in prison.

"I killed no one," Beasley said at the hearing, WOIO-TV, Cleveland, reported. He told families of the victims he was sorry for their losses.

Publisher: H. Clinton book deal in place

WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- A deal is in place for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's memoirs, publisher Simon & Schuster announced Thursday.

The tentative publication date is June 2014 and likely will include a book tour, fueling speculation about whether Clinton will make a presidential run in 2016, USA Today reported.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Clinton received $8 million for her 2003 memoir, "Living History," also published by Simon & Schuster.

The as-yet untitled book will use a "number of dramatic moments" when Clinton was secretary of state "to frame her thoughts about the recent history of U.S. foreign policy and the urgent, ongoing need for American leadership in a changing world," the publisher said.

Clinton will write about her role in, and reflections on, events such as the killing of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya, the transitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the shift to the Asia-Pacific region and building diplomatic coalitions to deal with Iran and North Korea, Simon & Schuster said.

"The book will also address many of the major trends reshaping the global landscape of the 21st century," the publisher said, "trends in economics, energy and climate change, democracy and human rights, the critical role of women and girls, technology and innovation, health and human development, and more."

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