Last S. Koreans leave factory site Sectarian killings in Syria
Obama talks crime on Latin America visit
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- President Barack Obama came to Latin America eager to move the region's relationship with the U.S. beyond fighting drugs and organized crime, yet the pervasive problems still trailed him throughout his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.
In the Costa Rican capital Friday, Obama defended his administration's efforts to stem U.S. demand for drugs that many regional leaders see as a driving factor in their security issues. He said the U.S. and Latin America share "common effects and common responsibilities" for the troubles and argued that his country has suffered from the drug epidemic as well.
"There's a cost obviously in the United States as well," Obama said during a joint news conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. "It's not as if we don't have tragic drug problems in the United States."
Obama's visit is his first to Latin America since winning a second term, in part due to the overwhelming support he received from Hispanic American voters. His trip is being followed with great interest by Hispanics in the U.S. as well as in Mexico, Central America and further to the south.
PAJU, South Korea -- The last seven South Koreans stationed at a jointly run factory park in North Korea pulled out Friday, silencing the complex for the first time since it was launched nine years ago in a seemingly distant era of reconciliation.
The complex in the town of Kaesong, just north of the Koreas' heavily fortified border, was the rivals' only remaining symbol of rapprochement. It had employed more than 53,000 North Korean workers and hundreds of South Korean managers until last month, when Pyongyang started gradually blocking its operations.
The last seven South Koreans left after negotiating taxes and the back salaries of North Korean workers. Their departure leaves the Koreas with virtually no official communication channel.
BEIRUT -- In the Syrian civil war's latest alleged mass killing, activists said Friday that regime troops and gunmen from nearby Alawite areas beat, stabbed and shot at least 50 people in the Sunni Muslim village of Bayda.
The slayings highlighted in the starkest terms the sectarian overtones of a conflict that has already killed more than 70,000 people. Details of the killings came to light as the Obama administration said it was again weighing whether to arm the rebels.
Syria's 2-year-old crisis has largely broken along sectarian lines: the Sunni majority forms the backbone of the rebellion, while President Bashar Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, anchors the regime's security services and military officer corps. Other minorities, such as Christians, largely support Assad or stand on the sidelines, worried that the regime's fall would bring about a more Islamist rule.