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Mayor reduced crime with drug baron's help

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- A U.S. diplomatic cable leaked Wednesday says the mayor of Jamaica's biggest city acknowledged forging an alliance of convenience with an alleged drug baron to reduce crime in a sprawling patchwork of gritty slums. The September 2009 cable says that Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie told a U.S. Embassy officer that his administration collaborated for years with Christopher "Dudus" Coke to fight crime, particularly in the powerful slum leader's stronghold of West Kingston.

McKenzie, an influential figure in the ruling Jamaica Labor Party, warned of a doomsday scenario if the United States continued to push for the extradition of Coke, according to the memo, which apparently was written by Isiah L. Parnell, the embassy's deputy chief of mission. In fact, at least 76 people died in battles between drug gangs and authorities after Prime Minister Bruce Golding finally agreed to extradite Coke.

The memo was released by WikiLeaks and published by the British newspaper The Guardian.


Former spy joins Putin's youth group

MOSCOW (AP) -- Former spy Anna Chapman publicly reaffirmed her allegiance to Russia and Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday by joining the youth wing of his United Russia party -- as an issue of Playboy magazine with nude pictures of her hit the newsstands.

Chapman was exposed in the United States along with nine other so-called sleeper agents in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War and deported back to Russia this summer.

Rather than recede into anonymity like the other agents, she has reveled in the fame, appearing at the launch of a Russian spacecraft and stripping to her underwear for a men's magazine, among other things. She also agreed to become the public face of a bank that serves the space industry.

At Wednesday's meeting of the Young Guards, Chapman, 28, was in beauty pageant mode.

"Let's dream about the boldest things," said Chapman, wearing a red dress and heavy makeup. Chapman refused to answer questions about her duties at the Young Guards.


High tensions prompt more massive drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea vowed Wednesday to "completely punish" North Korea if it attacks again, and mobilized hundreds of troops, tanks and helicopters for a massive military exercise prompted by high tensions on the peninsula.

The firing drills planned for today near the Koreas' heavily armed land border signaled that South Korea is willing to risk further escalating tensions with North Korea, which shelled a southern island off the western coast on Nov. 23 and stirred up a warlike atmosphere.

The attack, which killed four people, was portrayed by Pyongyang as a retaliation for southern military exercises on Yeonpyeong island that day.


Missing medical goods lead to investigation

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S.-donated medicines and pharmaceutical supplies meant to keep the new Afghan army and police healthy have been disappearing before reaching Afghan military hospitals and clinics, and the government said it is removing the army's top medical officer from his post as part of an investigation into alleged corruption.

Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak told the Associated Press that Surgeon General Ahmad Zia Yaftali was being removed from his post as part of the inquiry. Three officials from the country's top medical facility, Dawood National Military Hospital in Kabul, have been fired, he said.

It's unclear just how much has gone missing of the $42 million worth of medical goods the United States has donated this year, and whether any Afghan soldiers have died as a result. U.S. officials say they do not account for the supplies after delivering them to the Afghans.

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