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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

Obama: Mandela a beacon of hope

Saturday, 29 June 2013 07:29 Published in National News

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — President Barack Obama says former South African President Nelson Mandela continues to shine as a beacon of the power of principle and standing up for what's right.

Obama says South Africa's transition from apartheid to a free nation has been a personal inspiration and an inspiration to the world.

He says the recent outpouring of love for the critically ill anti-apartheid icon shows the deep yearning for justice and dignity in the human spirit. He says that yearning transcends class, race and country.

Obama spoke at a joint news conference with South African President Jacob Zuma. The White House says Obama will meet Saturday with Mandela's family but won't visit him in the hospital, in line with the family's wishes.

Susan Rice: Snowden leaks have not weakened Obama

Saturday, 29 June 2013 07:28 Published in National News

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is downplaying the damage done by Edward Snowden's highly classified leaks.

Susan Rice says in an Associated Press interview that the disclosures of widespread surveillance have not significantly have weakened the Obama presidency or U.S. foreign policy. Rice insists that the U.S. will remain "the most influential, powerful and important country in the world."

Rice's remarks were her only public ones on Snowden and came in an interview as she prepared to leave the U.N. post and start her new job Monday as President Barack Obama's national security adviser.

She says it's too soon to judge the long-term effects. Rice says the U.S. will work through this as it has done with past problems.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say Snowden's leaks damaged national security.

Plea deal offered in funeral fraud case

Saturday, 29 June 2013 07:27 Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Seven defendants accused in a pre-arranged funeral scam have been offered plea deals that would allow them to avoid potential life sentences.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlined the plea offers on Friday. The deal would require five to 10 years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas. The case is being handled in federal court in St. Louis.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan cited the high cost of trials that could last three months.

Prosecutors say now-defunct National Prearranged Services Inc. operated like a Ponzi scheme before it was shut down in 2008. Customers were allegedly bilked of up to $600 million.

One former employee, 69-year-old Sharon Nekol Province, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is November 7th.

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