U.S. to weigh food aid for north Korea
The Obama administration announced Friday that it is sending an official U.S. envoy to North Korea for the first time in two years, with the goal of evaluating the communist nation's need for food aid as it struggles with the effects of floods and a brutal winter. The U.S. government cut off its food donations in 2009, frustrated with the obstacles the North Korean government placed on monitoring shipments. American and other foreign donors worry that the North Korean military diverts assistance for itself. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the special envoy for North Korean human rights, Robert King, and an official from the U.S. Agency for International Development would lead a team of food experts visiting the country for five days starting Tuesday.
• North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who rarely travels abroad, made an unusual third trip in just over a year to China, his country's main ally, South Korean news agencies reported Friday.
Obama issues eight pardons
President Barack Obama pardoned eight people Friday for a range of offenses, from distributing drugs to the illegal sale of alligator hides. Four of them did not serve jail time for their offenses. This is the second group of pardons issued by Obama. He pardoned nine people in December, many of whom were convicted of minor drug crimes and did not serve jail time.
Police catch leader of a drug cartel
Mexican federal police captured a leading member of the gulf drug cartel Friday at what appeared to have been his birthday party, authorities said. Gilberto Barragan Balderas, 41, "is considered one of the main leaders of the Gulf Cartel" and is the subject of a $5 million reward by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Ramon Pequeno, head of antidrug operations for the federal police.
3 Somalis guilty in yacht hijacking
Three Somali men pleaded guilty Friday to piracy for their roles in the hijacking of a yacht that left four Americans dead. During hearings in federal court, two of the men also pleaded guilty to hostage-taking resulting in death. The three are among 15 who have been charged in the February hijacking of the yacht Quest. Eight others have plea agreement hearings next week. The yacht owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death several days after being taken hostage south of Oman.
FDA gives warning on preemie feeding
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned parents and health care providers to stop using the SimplyThick additive in the breast milk and formula of premature babies after the deaths of two infants who were given it. The FDA said the product, a thickening agent that helps infants with swallowing, may cause a potentially life-threatening intestinal disorder.
Dayton, Ohio: China Arnold, 31, who was convicted of killing her month-old daughter in a microwave oven, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.
Haiti: President Michel Martelly on Friday nominated businessman Daniel-Gerard Rouzier as prime minister.