A North Korea prison camp has increased in size where prisoners are beaten to death and forced to dig their own graves, according to a new report by human rights group Amnesty International. The group had commissioned a satellite analysis of the camp, otherwise known as kwanliso 16, currently three times the size of Washington, D.C. According to firsthand accounts of inmates, female prisoners are often raped and then executed and anyone who would try to escape is publicly shot or hanged. Child inmates work long hours in dangerous conditions, and have died as a result, according to the Amnesty report. "They are worse off than animals," said a former prison official, who was not named in the report. "The purpose of prison camps is to oppress, degrade, and violate the inmates for as long as they are alive." According to the report, more than 100,000 people are imprisoned in such camps for alleged crimes against the state.
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Toronto's embattled Mayor Rob Ford slammed Thursday claims that he had tried to buy the video that apparently shows him smoking crack cocaine. Ford was asked about that allegation — which stemmed from court documents detailing wiretaps of gang members — during a call to the Washington, D.C. radio show "Sports Junkies" that he just joined. On the wiretaps, one suspect was heard in April saying the mayor had offered $5,000 and a car in exchange for the video and adding that he planned to ask for $150,000 for it. But Ford insisted Thursday that such claims were false. "Number one, that's an outright lie, and number two, you can talk to my lawyers about it," Ford said. "I'm here to talk about football, guys." Ford admitted last month to smoking crack in a "drunken stupor" as well as to driving drunk and buying drugs. He has resisted demands to resign and has been stripped of most of his powers by an irate Toronto City Council — though he pledges to run for reelection.
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Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said Thursday that no charges will be filed against anyone in the Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sex assault investigation. Meggs made the announcement at a news conference, saying there was not enough evidence to win a conviction. "After reviewing all the evidence in the case, we did not feel like we could meet that burden," Meggs said. A woman who accused Winston, a Heisman Trophy contender, of sexual assault told police she was raped at an apartment after a night of drinking at a bar, according to a search warrant released hours before Meggs made his announcement. In the warrant from January, the alleged victim told police she and friends had five to six shots at Potbellys and her "memory is very broken from that point forward." She said she remembered being in a cab with a "non-descript" black man and going into an apartment where she was raped. The woman didn't identify Winston, who is black, until about a month after the alleged assault a year ago.
An American teacher was killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday morning, just days before he was supposed to return to the U.S. for the holidays, according to the school's principal. Thiry-three-year-old Ronnie Smith, from Texas, had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi for about 18 months and was "very much loved," principal Peter Hodge told NBC News. "After everything that happened in Libya, we were losing hope and he was the only one who was supporting us, motivating us, telling us that as long as we studied everything would be okay. He was the silver lining, student Yomna Zentani, 18, said of the 33 year old teacher. Smith's wife and young son had recently traveled to the U.S. for the holidays, and he was scheduled to join them. Security official Ibrahim al-Sharaa told The Associated Press that the victim was jogging near the U.S. Consulate at the time of the shooting. NBC News was unable to independently confirm that account. Benghazi became a political flashpoint following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. diplomatic post.
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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a landmark overhaul aimed at fixing the state's nearly $100 billion pension crisis. The law reducing retirement benefits for state employees takes effect in June, but court challenges are expected. Several unions have called the benefit cuts unconstitutional. Illinois' unfunded pension system is considered the worst in the nation after lawmakers skipped or shorted payments for years. The legislation was unveiled last week and is expected to save $160 billion over three decades. Among other things, the plan signed into law Thursday pushes back the retirement age on a sliding scale for those 45 and younger. It also caps the salary on which a pension benefit is based and lowers the employee contribution.
Five months after their friend was killed in a Glastonbury crash, police have arrested three 17-year-old boys who are accused of letting her drive drunk.
Police said the boys knew Jane Modlesky, 17, was “highly intoxicated” when she got behind the wheel of an SUV early on the morning of Sunday, July 14 and hit a tree half a mile away.
Police determined that Modlesky’s blood alcohol content was 27 percent, which was more than 13 times the legal limit of .02 for someone under the age of 21.
Police said the last two teens in the car with Modlesky were well aware that she was "highly intoxicated," but allowed her to drive.
Dozens of Russian diplomats and their spouses living and working in New York have been charged with defrauding the Medicaid system of about $1.5 million in benefits over a nine-year period, federal prosecutors say.
The Russian diplomats and their spouses allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury vacations as well as jewelry and clothing at Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's and other retailers. They also spent thousands of dollars online to buy merchandise including Apple products and concert tickets, prosecutors say.
A federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan says the alleged scheme by 49 diplomats and their spouses included submitting false applications for Medicaid benefits associated with medical costs for pregnancy, birth and young children, benefits they were not entitled to receive.
Dallas Wiens went from having no face after a horrible accident in 2008 to being the first man in the U.S. to get a full face transplant.
In Chicago Wednesday with his new bride, Jamie, for the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Wiens calls his life a miracle.
"Running my hands over my face, I have eyebrows, eyelashes," he said. "Stubble is coming out."
When Wiens received his face transplant and was able to touch it for the first time, he said "this shouldn't be medically possible." Three months later his daughter came to visit him. "She kissed me and I could feel it," he said.
Wiens and his wife both survived horrific burns in separate accidents. Wiens' face was burned off when he hit a high-voltage wire at his church. Jamie Wiens suffered hers in a car accident during which she was trapped for 23 minutes in a burning vehicle.
They attended Wednesday's convention because of a technology they said changed Wiens' life.
Two pods of whales were spotted swimming in deeper waters Thursday away from the shallow spot in Everglades National Park where dozens of whales had been stranded, officials said.
Between 15 and 20 whales were seen by a Coast Guard air crew swimming offshore in 12-foot waters near Seminole Point, north and west of Highland Beach, NOAA spokeswoman Blair Mase said Thursday.
Mase said the news was encouraging because it means the whales may be leaving the site of the stranding.
A total of 51 whales were discovered stranded Tuesday by fishing guides near Highland Beach, which is the western boundary of Everglades National Park in Monroe County on the Gulf coast.
On Thursday, rescue workers were heading back out in boats to try to help the whales get to deeper water.
More than three out of four Afghans said they would "be afraid when encountering international forces," according to the latest annual poll by the Asia Foundation. By comparison, nearly nine in 10 said the NATO-trained Afghan National Army was "honest and fair with the Afghan people" and helped "improve security," the non-profit international development group's survey found. About 72 percent of those polled felt the same levels of confidence in the Afghan National Police. Although more than half of Afghans questioned said they were afraid to vote or attend peaceful protests, an increasing number felt their country was headed in the right direction. About 46,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, with the U.S. urging President Hamid Karzai to soon sign a bilateral security agreement that will determine the future of the U.S. military effort in the country after 2014.
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A University of New Haven student accused of bringing loaded guns to campus this week told police he had the guns to protect himself from mass shootings that had been happening, according to a police source close to the investigation.
William Dong, 22, was arrested on Tuesday after prompting a campus lockdown and a building-by-building search at the West Haven, Conn. school, police said. No one was hurt in the scare.
A search of Dong's padlocked bedroom at his family home found newspaper clippings of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater mass shooting and 2,700 rounds of ammunition, police said.
Lindsey Vonn declared Thursday that she is ready to race for the first time in 10 months. In an interview with The Associated Press and USA Today Sports, Vonn said she will return to competition in a World cup downhill Friday, the latest major step in her push to get ready for the Sochi Olympics. She has not raced since a high-speed crash at the world championships in February, when she tore two ligaments in her right knee and broke a bone in her lower leg. About two and half weeks ago, Vonn partially re-tore one of those reconstructed ligaments in a crash while training in Colorado. "You kind of know if your body is ready or not, and I feel like mine's ready," Vonn said Thursday.
The billionaire heiress to the Mars candy fortune will not serve any jail time for an accident authorities say resulted in the death of a 86-year-old woman. Jacqueline Mars, a co-owner of the privately held candy company Mars Inc., entered the courtroom Thursday using a walker and pleaded guilty to the reckless driving charge she faced. The judge could have sentenced Mars to a year in jail for the misdemeanor charge, but three of Irene Ellisor's family members read statements in court, forgiving Mars for the October accident and asked that she not be jailed. The judge followed their request but ordered Mars to pay a $2,500 fine and suspended her license for six months.