National editor's pick of the top news stories in the nation and world at this hour:
In a country where most people are not allowed to see the Internet, Google CEO Eric Schmidt got a look Tuesday at what passes for progress in North Korea: a university student using Google. Schmidt, who is on a four-day visit to the world's most isolated country, toured a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, where one student showed him how he accesses reading materials from Cornell University on a computer with a red tag denoting it as a gift from Kim Jong Il. Jaren Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank, asked a student how he searches for information, and the student clicked on Google. "That's where I work!" Cohen said. He then did his own search for "New York City," clicked on its Wikipedia page and said, "That's where I live." Only in North Korea would it be considered newsworthy that you can look up New York City on the Internet. Most North Koreans have never seen the World Wide Web, which is banned for all but a few, whose use of it is carefully monitored. Most North Koreans with computers are limited to a domestic intranet service that provides only dispatches from state-run media and other content approved by the government.
On the second anniversary of the shooting that wounded Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, she and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence Tuesday. Astronaut Mark Kelly and Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman, wrote in an op-ed in USA Today that Americans for Responsible Solutions would raise money to support gun control efforts. "In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary -- nothing at all," they wrote. "Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," they wrote, saying they will "raise funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby." The couple last week visited Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 small children and seven adults. Kelly described on "Good Morning America" how he "just about lost it" after a parent showed him a picture of a child who was killed.
Nude photos and steamy text messages are part of the evidence in an Arizona murder case in which a woman admits to the savage killing of her boyfriend but claims it was in self-defense. A major problem for Jodi Arias' defense is that Travis Alexander was stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times in the heart, back, hands and torso, his throat was slit from ear to ear, and he was shot in the head. The photographs show Arias naked in Alexander's bed, and Alexander naked in the shower, just minutes before he was killed. Arias at first denied any involvement in the June 2008 killing in Mesa, then blamed it on masked intruders before she finally confessed. Her attorney, Jennifer Willmott, told jurors that Alexander "lunged" at her in anger. "Jodi's life was in danger," she said. "He knocked her to the ground in the bathroom, where there was a struggle. If she did not have to defend herself, she would not be here." Prosecutors say Arias was prepared to kill, armed with a knife and a .25-caliber handgun taken from her grandparents' house. Arias faces the death penalty.
A Southern California woman was arrested on suspicion of fatally abusing her boyfriend's daughter after the 2-year-old died from ingesting chili powder. Amanda Sorensen, 21, of Apple Valley was being held on $500,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. Neighbors said the woman and her boyfriend had a stormy relationship and often fought. San Bernardino County deputies were called to the home Sunday and found the toddler suffering a seizure after ingesting chili powder, possibly given to her as punishment. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A doctor consulted by KTLA 5 News said it would be difficult for a small child to eat powder without inhaling it, and the little girl's airways may have become swollen, leaving her unable to breathe.
A 73-year-old homeowner in Yelm, Wash., couldn't figure out why her new furnace wasn't heating her house. A repairman had a surprising diagnosis of Velma Kellen's problem. "He says, 'Well, I've got good news and bad news. I've got your ducts fixed, but somebody's been living under your house,' " Kellen said. The repairman said he found beer cans and a liquor bottle in a crawl space under the house, and he said a heating duct had been cut. "They cut the duct so that the warm air was blowing down on them," Kellen said. "They were getting all my warm air from the front of the house." The woman also said she suspected her unwelcome guest of smoking marijuana because she often smelled it. The woman has three dogs, but somehow they never barked at the intruder. Contact high?
The Wire, a summary of top national and world news stories from the Associated Press and other wire services, moves weekdays. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023; follow him at twitter.com/karl_kahler.