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VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats eased the way for swift approval of President Barack Obama's current and future nominees on Thursday, voting unilaterally to overturn decades of Senate precedent and undermine Republicans' ability to block final votes.


The 52-48 vote to undercut venerable filibuster rules on presidential appointees capped more than a decade of struggle in which presidents of both parties complained about delays in confirming appointees, particularly to the federal courts.


At the White House, Obama applauded the vote. He said Republicans had used delaying tactics "as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt."


"And that's not what our founders intended. And it's certainly not what our country needs right now," the president said.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who launched the effort, accused Republicans of "unbelievable, unprecedented obstruction" of Obama's selections to fill court vacancies and other offices.


"It's time to change the Senate, before this institution becomes obsolete," he said.


His Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused Democrats of exercising raw power and said they would regret it when political fortunes switched.




SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korean officials detained an 85-year-old U.S. veteran of the Korean War last month as he sat in a plane set to leave the country, the man's son said.


A uniformed North Korean officer boarded the plane on Oct. 26 and asked Merrill Newman, a tourist, for his passport before telling a stewardess that Newman had to leave the plane, the son, Jeffrey Newman, said Wednesday.


"My dad got off, walked out with the stewardess, and that's the last he was seen," Jeffrey Newman told The Associated Press at his home in California.


It wasn't clear what led to the detention. The son said he was speaking regularly with the U.S. State Department about his father, but U.S. officials wouldn't confirm the detention to reporters, citing privacy issues.


North Korea's official state-run media have yet to comment on reports of the detention, which first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and Japan's Kyodo News service.


Secretary of State John Kerry told MSNBC on Thursday in response to a question about Newman that North Korea needed to recognize the "dangerous steps that it's been taking on many fronts," including the treatment of its citizens and the start-up of its nuclear reactor.


"We are anxious to proceed to negotiations about denuclearization and to move away from these kinds of provocative actions," he said.


Kerry stopped short of confirming Newman's detention and said the country had "other people."




LONDON (AP) -- Three women have been freed after spending 30 years held captive in a south London home, including one woman believed to have spent her entire life in domestic slavery, police announced Thursday.


London's Metropolitan Police spoke about the rescues after two people - a man and a woman, both 67 - were arrested early Thursday as part of an investigation into domestic servitude.


Scotland Yard's slavery investigation was launched after one of the captive women contacted a charity to say she was being held against her will and the charity went to the police, the force said. Those freed on Oct. 25 are a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman, police said.


Kevin Hyland, head of the Metropolitan Police's human trafficking unit, said all three women were "deeply traumatized."


Police said they do not believe any of the victims are related and there was no evidence of sexual abuse. Hyland said he didn't know of any of the relationships between the women or their suspects, including whether the suspects were a couple.


The revelations raised numerous questions - all still unanswered - about how the women's ordeal began and why it endured for so long. What brought them to London? What freedoms - if any - did they have? What restrictions and conditions were they were subject to? Did neighbors ever see them, did they ever try to escape?


The women - whose names have not been released - are now safe at an undisclosed location in Britain and have been working with severe trauma experts since their rescue, Hyland said.