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Kim tells troops to prepare for battle with South Korea

North Korea

Kim tells troops to prepare for battle with South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday declared his front-line troops in a "quasi-state of war" and ordered them to prepare for battle a day after the most serious confrontation between the rivals in years. South Korea's military on Thursday fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border in response to what Seoul said were North Korean artillery strikes meant to back up a threat to attack loudspeakers broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda. The spike in tensions prompted the United States and South Korea to briefly halt an annual military exercise that began this week, U.S. defense officials said Friday. North Korea had criticized the drills, calling them a preparation for invasion. The North's declaration Friday is similar to its other warlike rhetoric in recent years, and the huge numbers of soldiers and military equipment already stationed along the border mean the area is always essentially in a "quasi-state of war." Still, the North's apparent willingness to test Seoul with military strikes and its warning raise worries because South Korea has vowed to hit back with overwhelming strength should North Korea attack again.

Washington

Lawmaker backs Iran deal, boosting Obama

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a prominent Jewish Democrat, said Friday that he will support the nuclear agreement with Iran, boosting the Obama administration's chances to avoid congressional attempts to halt the deal. In a lengthy statement, Nadler said that the agreement, "for all its flaws, gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon." Nadler's endorsement came after he received a personal letter from President Barack Obama this week, responding to concerns the congressman had publicly raised about the deal.

St. Louis

Autopsy finds police shot suspect in back

An autopsy showed that an 18-year-old who was shot and killed by an officer helping serve a search warrant in a violence-plagued neighborhood died from a single wound in the back, police said Friday. St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson cautioned that the location of Mansur Ball-Bey's wound neither confirms nor disproves two officers' accounts that Ball-Bey pointed a gun at them before they shot at him Wednesday. Dotson said Thursday that a stolen handgun linked to Ball-Bey was found at the scene.

Los Angeles

Antiabortion group releases new video

An antiabortion group released a snippet of video on Friday showing a California company executive discussing fetal tissue for research after a judge ruled the group could show the footage even if it was illegally recorded. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell rejected efforts by StemExpress to block the videos, though she said the company likely will prevail in its lawsuit claiming its privacy was violated by an antiabortion activist posing as a biomedical company employee. The company that provides blood, tissue and other biological material for medical research said it was considering an appeal, but the little-known Center for Medical Progress didn't hesitate to preview its latest covert video targeting organizations that trade in fetal tissue. The group reignited the abortion debate after releasing undercover videos last month of Planned Parenthood officials discussing aborted fetal organs it provides for research.

Elsewhere

Syria: The Israeli military mounted a second round of airstrikes in Syria on Friday, killing all of the passengers traveling in a vehicle and intensifying the most serious conflict in the area in months. The military said it was pursuing militants who had fired rockets at Israeli-controlled areas Thursday.

Yemen: Doctors Without Borders on Friday made a dramatic appeal to Yemen's warring factions to halt attacks on civilians, a day after heavy fighting in a key city killed more than 65 people and wounded at least 23.

Times wires

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