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Associated Press
U.S. Army Gen. Walter L. Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, is surrounded by media as his entourage tours a neighborhood destroyed by North Korean shelling on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010. North Korea warned Friday that planned U.S.-South Korean military drills are pushing the peninsula to the brink of war. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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North Korea warned Friday that U.S.-South Korean plans for military maneuvers put the peninsula on the brink of war, and appeared to launch its own artillery drills within earshot of an island it showered with a deadly barrage this week. The fresh artillery blasts came just after the top U.S. commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter Sharp, toured the country's Yeonpyeong Island in a show of solidarity with Seoul and to survey damage from Tuesday's hail of North Korean artillery fire that killed four people.

After weeks of "Black Friday" sales pitches, the real thing is finally here. Retailers are ushering in the traditional kickoff of the U.S. holiday shopping season on Friday with expanded hours, deep discounts and online deals to draw bargain-hungry shoppers.

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand (AP) — Another underground blast ripped through a New Zealand coal mine on Friday almost a week to the minute after an earlier explosion caused the country's worst mining disaster in decades, with 29 killed. No one was injured in the latest explosion at the Pike River Coal mine, which is filled with potentially explosive methane gas leaking from the coal seam.

TOKYO (AP) — An election Sunday for the governor of a southern Japanese island where a controversial U.S. Marine base is located is likely to cause more problems for Japan's relations with key ally the United States, as both leading candidates want the facility off the island. The U.S. Futenma air base has been located on Okinawa island since 1945, and residents have long complained it produces aircraft noise and crime.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental groups are criticizing the Obama administration for what they say is a continuing backlog of plants and animals in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service says 251 species are candidates for endangered species protection, four more than a similar review last year found.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Three teenage boys who spent 50 days adrift in a tiny boat in the South Pacific Ocean walked ashore on shaky legs Friday after their chance rescue — celebrated on their home island hundreds of miles away as a miracle bringing them back from the dead. The trio — Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14 — told rescuers they survived on rainwater they collected, a handful of coconuts, raw fish and a seagull that landed on their 12-foot (3.5-meter) -long aluminum boat.

In his five years as Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani has shown a remarkable ability to rise above the ethnic and religious divisions defining the country's political scene — sometimes at the expense of his own Kurdish identity. The 77-year-old statesman with his trademark grin, hearty laugh, portly girth and walrus-like mustache was elected to a second, four-year term in office this month and already has been thrust back into the public eye.

LONDON (AP) — Secondhand smoke kills more than 600,000 people worldwide every year, according to a new study. In the first look at the global impact of secondhand smoking, researchers analyzed data from 2004 for 192 countries. They found 40 percent of children and more than 30 percent of non-smoking men and women regularly breathe in secondhand smoke.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — It could be the Mexican remake of the "The Full Monty" — just swap the out-of-work British steel workers from the 1997 hit movie for curvy Latina flight attendants. Ten stewardesses with troubled Mexicana airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in August and suspended operations, launched a sultry aviation-themed calendar Thursday in a bid to call attention to their own plight and that of their airline — one of the world's oldest.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M heaped one final insult on Texas' miserable season. Cyrus Gray rushed for 223 yards and had two long touchdowns, helping No. 17 Texas A&M beat Texas 24-17 on Thursday night, sending the Longhorns to their first losing season since 1997.

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