VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea said Tuesday it will restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material, in what outsiders see as its latest attempt to extract U.S. concessions by raising fears of war.


A spokesman for the North's General Department of Atomic Energy said scientists will quickly begin "readjusting and restarting" the facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex, including the plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons.


The reactor began operations in 1986 but was shut down as part of international nuclear disarmament talks in 2007 that have since stalled. North Korea said work to restart the facilities would begin "without delay." Experts estimate it could take anywhere from three months to a year to reactivate the reactor.


The nuclear vows and a rising tide of threats in recent weeks are seen as efforts by the North to force disarmament-for-aid talks with Washington and to increase domestic loyalty to young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful military commander.




PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Hawks swoop in and gobble up songbirds. Raccoons feast on nests of eggs they never could have reached before. Salamanders and wildflowers fade away, crowded out by invasive plants that are altering the soil they need to thrive.


Like a once-quiet neighborhood cut up by an expressway and laced with off ramps, northeastern forests are changing because of the pipelines crisscrossing them amid the region's gas drilling boom, experts say.


Environmentalists have loudly worried that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may threaten water and air, though the Obama administration and many state regulators say the practice is safe when done properly.


Threats to wildlife, though, have flown largely under the radar. But as studies detail plans for thousands of miles of new pipelines and related infrastructure, the dangers to biologically rich forests that have rebounded since vast clear-cutting in the 1800s are taking on new urgency.


"If you wanted to create a perfect storm for biological invasion, you would do what the energy companies are doing in north-central Pennsylvania," said Kevin Heatley, an ecologist with the national firm Biohabitats who works to restore areas that have been damaged by human activity. "You can only put so many bloody parking lots in the woods."




NEW YORK (AP) -- To see what Facebook has become, look no further than the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.


Sometime last year, people began sharing tongue-in-cheek online reviews of the banana-shaped piece of yellow plastic with their Facebook friends. Then those friends shared with their friends. Soon, after Amazon paid to promote it, posts featuring the $3.49 utensil were appearing in even more Facebook feeds.


At some point, though, the joke got old. But there it was, again and again - the banana slicer had become a Facebook version of that old knock-knock joke your weird uncle has been telling for years.


The Hutzler 571 phenomenon is a regular occurrence on the world's biggest online social network, which begs the question: Has Facebook become less fun?


That's something many users - especially those in their teens and early 20s - are asking themselves as they wade through endless posts, photos "liked" by people they barely know and spur-of-the moment friend requests. Has it all become too much of a chore? Are the important life events of your closest loved ones drowning in a sea of banana slicer jokes?

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