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US VET , 85, HOME FROM NORTH KOREA
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A tired but smiling 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained in North Korea for several weeks returned home Saturday to applause from supporters, yellow ribbons tied to trees outside his home and the warm embrace of his family.
Merrill Newman arrived at the San Francisco airport after turning down a ride aboard Vice President Joe Biden's Air Force Two in favor of a direct flight from Beijing. He emerged into the international terminal smiling, accompanied by his son and holding the hand of his wife amid applause from supporters. He spoke briefly to the assembled media, declining to answer questions about his ordeal.
"I'm delighted to be home," he said. "It's been a great homecoming. I'm tired, but ready to be with my family."
He also thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for helping to secure his release. He declined to answer any questions and didn't discuss his detention.
Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 war.
Last month, Newman read from an awkwardly worded alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing North Koreans during the war. Analysts questioned whether the statement was coerced, and former South Korean guerrillas who had worked with Newman and fought behind enemy lines during the war disputed some of the details.
North Korea cited Newman's age and medical condition in allowing him to leave the country.
PEARL HARBOR CEREMONY MARKS BOMBING ANNIVERSARY
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) -- About 2,500 gathered at Pearl Harbor on Saturday to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.
The crowd observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the bombing began 72 years ago.
A vintage World War II-era airplane - a 1944 North American SNJ-5B - flew overhead to break the silence. The Hawaii Air National Guard has used its fighter jets and helicopters to perform the flyover for many years, but federal budget cuts prevented it from participating this year.
About 50 survivors returned to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony.
"I come back to be with my comrades - meet the ones who are still alive, and we're going fast," said Delton Walling, who was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania at the time of the attack.
The Navy and National Park Service co-hosted the ceremony, which was open to the public. Their theme for the event, "Sound the Alarm," explores how Americans answered a call to duty in the wake of the attack.
The current U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the U.S. remembers the warning from those who survived.
"We remember Pearl Harbor, we are vigilant, and we are ready to fight tonight and win," Harris said. "Not only are we poised to respond to the first notes of the alarm bell, we are also doing everything possible to keep those alarms from sounding in the first place."
FEW HEIRS APPARENT TO MANDELA'S SYMBOL OF FREEDOM
The passing of Nelson Mandela leaves a waning number of global figures representing freedom and resilience against oppression - and a changing world that makes it harder for anyone to approach Mandela's iconic power.
There are a few whose trials have made them symbols of freedom, including the former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, the Dalai Lama and, more recently, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl turned women's rights activist .
But Mandela, the black revolutionary who emerged from 27 years in prison to embrace his white oppressors and lead a new South Africa, may be one of the last of a breed for all sorts of reasons - including the circumstances of his heroism, his extraordinary success and the onset of an age when heroes' foibles are often exposed.
"He lived and worked in a context and historical period where his extraordinary individual qualities could help make change in his country and ripple throughout the world," said Daniel Calengaret, executive vice president of the Freedom House, a watchdog group working to expand freedom around the world.
"It's hard to think of someone who was both an iconic dissident figure and was actually central to building a new system," Calengaret said.