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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.

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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.

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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.

Saturday, 29 June 2013 07:27
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WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) — A Washington Park, Illinois police officer has been accused of smuggling narcotics to a female jail inmate.

Authorities say the officer is 61-year-old Douglas Young of Lebanon. Young was arrested Thursday morning in his police uniform at the Washington Park Police Department. He has been charged with official misconduct for bringing narcotics and prescription drugs to an inmate of the St. Clair County Jail.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson says Young allegedly "used his position as a law enforcement officer" to arrange jail visits to a woman in custody on theft charges.

Young is being held at the St. Clair County Jail. His bond has been set at $25,000. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.

Washington Park is just east of St. Louis.

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