AP News in Brief at 4:58 a.m. EST

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 15, 2013 at 5:00 am •  Published: April 14, 2013
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Maduro to take over Chavez's revolution after tight election win rejected by the opposition

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has won Venezuela's presidential election by a stunningly narrow margin that highlights rising discontent over problems ranging from crime to power blackouts. His rival demanded a recount, portending more headaches for a country shaken by the death of its dominating leader.

One key Chavista leader made known his dismay over the outcome of Sunday's election that was supposed to cement the self-styled "Bolivarian Revolution" of their beloved president as Venezuela's destiny. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, who many consider Maduro's main rival within their movement, tweeted: "The results oblige us to make a profound self-criticism."

Maduro's victory followed an often ugly, mudslinging campaign in which the winner promised to carry on Chavez's legacy, while challenger Henrique Capriles' main message was that Chavez put this country with the world's largest oil reserves on the road to ruin.

Despite the ill feelings, both men sent their supporters home and urged them to refrain from violence.

Maduro, acting president since Chavez's March 5 death, held a double-digit advantage in opinion polls just two weeks ago, but electoral officials said he got just 50.7 percent of the votes compared to 49.1 percent for Capriles, with nearly all ballots counted.

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Oblivious to tensions abroad, North Koreans celebrate birthday of late president

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Oblivious to international tensions over a possible North Korean missile launch, Pyongyang residents spilled into the streets Monday to celebrate a major national holiday, the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il Sung.

Girls in red and pink jackets skipped along streets festooned with celebratory banners and flags and parents pushed strollers with babies bundled up against the spring chill as residents of the isolated, impoverished nation began observing a three-day holiday.

There was no sense of panic in the North Korean capital, where very few locals have access to international broadcasts and foreign newspaper headlines speculating about an imminent missile launch and detailing the international diplomacy under way to try to rein Pyongyang in, including a swing through the region by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to try to tamp down emotions and coordinate Washington's response with Beijing, North Korea's most important ally.

Foreign governments have been struggling to assess how seriously to take North Korea's recent torrent of rhetoric — including warnings of possible nuclear war — as it expresses its anger over continuing U.S.-South Korea military maneuvers just across the border. Officials in South Korea, the United States and Japan say intelligence indicates that North Korean officials, fresh off an underground nuclear test in February, are ready to launch a medium-range missile.

North Korea's own media gave little indication Monday of how high the tensions are.

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Iraq: At least 27 killed, over 100 wounded in string of attacks across country

BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of attacks across Iraq killed 27 people and wounded well over 100 on Monday morning, officials said.

The attacks, many involving car bombs, took place less than a week before Iraqis in much of the country are scheduled to vote in the country's first elections since the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal. The vote will be a key test of security forces' ability to keep voters safe.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but coordinated attacks are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida's Iraq branch.

Iraqi officials believe the insurgent group is growing stronger and increasingly coordinating with allies fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border cooperation with the Syrian militant group Nusra Front has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.

Nearly all of the deadly attacks reported by police officials were bombings, which struck Baghdad, in the western city of Fallujah, the contested northern city of Kirkuk and towns south of the capital. Another 100 people were wounded.

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Supreme Court to hear arguments over whether human genes can be patented

WASHINGTON (AP) — DNA may be the building block of life, but can something taken from it also be the building block of a multimillion-dollar medical monopoly?

The Supreme Court grapples Monday with the question of whether human genes can be patented. Its ultimate answer could reshape U.S. medical research, the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer and the multi-billion dollar medical and biotechnology business.

"The intellectual framework that comes out of the decision could have a significant impact on other patents — for antibiotics, vaccines, hormones, stem cells and diagnostics on infectious microbes that are found in nature," Robert Cook-Deegan, director for genome ethics, law & policy at Duke University, said in a statement.

"This could affect agricultural biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, green-tech, the use of organisms to produce alternative fuels and other applications," he said.

The nine justices' decision will also have a profound effect on American business, with billions of dollars of investment and years of research on the line. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years.

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IAEA evaluating cleanup at crippled Japan nuclear plant that's been beset by new troubles

TOKYO (AP) — The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency Monday began reviewing the decommissioning process at Japan's crippled nuclear plant, where new problems are triggering growing safety concerns about a cleanup expected to take decades.

The experts will assess and analyze melted reactors, radiation levels and waste management at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to make its decommissioning process safer and more stable, team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo told reporters.

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