Scott Neuman

A student armed with a shotgun apparently killed himself after opening fire at a Colorado high school, wounding two fellow students, police said Friday.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the armed student entered the school and said he was looking for a specific teacher, calling him by name through the hallways. Robinson said another student confronted the gunman and then was shot.

"The teacher began to understand that he was being looked at [and] exited the school," Robinson said.

A day after The Associated Press reported that an ex-FBI agent who went missing in Iran nearly seven years ago was on a rogue mission for the CIA, the White House has reiterated its long-held position that Robert Levinson was not on the U.S. payroll when he disappeared.

Authorities in Kansas have arrested a man they say was plotting to use a carload of explosives to blow up the terminal at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport.

The suspect, identified as Terry Lee Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician, was arrested Friday morning at the airport, where he allegedly planned to drive a car loaded with explosives through the airport terminal, U.S. District Attorney Barry Grissom said in an afternoon news conference.

Two agricultural scientists from China have been accused of trying to steal patented seeds from a biopharmaceutical company in Kansas.

Separately, six men from China, including the CEO of a seed corn subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, were charged Thursday with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of the nation's leading seed developers, prosecutors said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

It wasn't immediately clear if the arrests were related, but The AP wrote of the group of six charged:

The Associated Press reports in an investigative piece that an ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and was last seen in a "proof of life" photograph more than two years ago had been working for the CIA, despite official denials from the U.S.

Robert Levinson, who would now be 65, vanished after traveling in March 2007 to the Iranian island of Kish, described by The Associated Press as a resort "awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures."

North Korea has announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and formerly the second most powerful man in the country, has been executed after being found guilty of treason by a military tribunal.

"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

In retrospect, it should come as no surprise that this story did not immediately appear on our radar: Last week, Aviation Week reported that the classified RQ-180 stealth drone has begun test flights at Area 51.

Music makes the heart grow fonder, but scientists are not so sure that it boosts IQ.

The Boston Globe notes:

The leader of massive anti-government protests in Thailand says the chiefs of the country's military branches and police force have agreed to meet and hear him out on "political reforms" — a move likely to spark concern over a possible coup similar to the one that overthrew the prime minister in 2006.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, launched in March 2004, will be awakened from a deep sleep next month in preparation for a rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which will culminate late next year with the first-ever soft landing on such a body.

The 6,600-pound spacecraft, which has spent nearly a decade making repeated flybys of Earth and Mars to gain enough speed to catch the comet, was put in hibernation in July 2011, after its last major gravity-assist maneuver.

Rosetta's wake up call is set for Jan. 20, 2014 at precisely 1000 GMT (5 a.m. EST).

Uruguay will become the world's first country to approve the growing, selling and use of marijuana, after the country's Senate voted for the change, which the president has promised to sign into law.

Reuters describes the move as "a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization."

Sen. Constanza Moreira, who voted with the majority, called the vote on Tuesday "an historic day."

"Many countries of Latin America, and many governments, will take this law as an example," she said.

Hundreds of riot police have stormed an anti-government camp in the capital's Independence Square, with police dismantling barricades amid shouts of "Shame!" and "We will stand!" from protesters.

As we reported on Monday, it follows a similar move by police against a protester camp near City Hall.

Congressional negotiators announced Tuesday that they'd reached a budget proposal to restore about $65 billion worth of sequestration cuts in exchange for cuts elsewhere and additional fees.

If approved by both the House and Senate, the plan — hammered out by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — would avoid another government shutdown on Jan. 15.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, Ryan said the budget plan doesn't raise taxes and that it's a "step in the right direction."

A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.

Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.

A couple and four children who had been missing since Sunday in the mountains of northern Nevada amid subzero temperatures have been found in good shape, officials said.

"We have located the people. They have been taken to the hospital. They are alive and well." Pershing County Undersheriff Thomas Bjerke said Tuesday. "They are in pretty good shape."

The Volcker rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law aimed at stopping some of the risky banking practices that contributed to the economic meltdown, was approved by five key regulators on Tuesday, clearing the way for its implementation.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission became the fifth and final body to approve the rule. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. were also among the agencies that gave the green light.

Gawker brings us this video posted on Monday of a herd of chamois goats that make a seemingly miraculous escape from an avalanche on an Alpine mountain face. It occurs in the Rhone-Alpes near Pralognan-la-Vanoise, not far from the border between France and Italy.

The recent, very public ouster of North Korea's Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong Un and formerly the country's No. 2 leader, has been noted with some concern in China, which is more or less Pyongyang's only friend in the region.

Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have agreed to a water-sharing pact that would see the construction of a desalination plant on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and bring "a long-awaited Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline one step closer to completion," according to Reuters.

Congress voted to renew a ban on plastic firearms that can skirt airport detectors, but Republican lawmakers blocked efforts to tighten the restrictions.

The Senate approved the measure by a voice vote hours before it would have expired at midnight. The House voted last week to renew the ban.

As The Associated Press reports:

Critics of the federal auto bailout will no longer be able to refer derisively to GM as "Government Motors" — on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the U.S. government has sold its remaining shares in the carmaker.

"With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation's history is now closed," Lew said, announcing the sale.

The net? Taxpayers lost $10.7 billion on the deal.

Federal prosecutors announced Monday the indictment of 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on an array of charges stemming from a sweeping investigation into inmate abuse and corruption.

"These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law."

Relatives of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School have asked people to mark Saturday's anniversary of the mass shooting with "acts of kindness" and say they will light candles in memory of the victims.

At a news conference on Monday, the families also announced the launch of a website, http://mysandyhookfamily.org, to create a "singular place of sharing, communication, and contact with the families of those who lost their lives that day."

NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence of an ancient (nearly) freshwater lake on Mars that could have sustained life billions of years ago.

The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reports that Pyongyang has deported Merrill Newman, the U.S. tourist and Korean War veteran who was arrested in October during a visit to the reclusive state.

The Associated Press says, "Newman appeared over the weekend on North Korean state television apologizing for alleged wartime crimes in what was widely seen as a coerced statement."

KCNA said he was being released because he had made the apology.

The Associated Press is quoting a Mexican government official as saying six people in the hospital for possible radiation exposure are suspects in this week's theft of a shipment of radioactive cobalt-60.

The unnamed official tells the AP that the suspects were arrested on Thursday and were taken to the general hospital in Pachuca for observation and testing.

The news agency quotes Hidalgo state Health Minister Pedro Luis Noble as saying none are in grave condition and may be released soon.

France has sent troops to the Central African Republic after violence there flared between Muslim and Christian militias amid reports that the death toll from fighting had reached 280.

The Associated Press reports:

"[Mostly] Muslim armed fighters who have ruled the country since March hunted door-to-door for their enemies. Bodies lay decomposing along the roads in a capital [Bangui] too dangerous for many to collect the corpses."

Reuters says the former French colony

President Obama threw the switch on the National Christmas Tree on Friday amid a constant rain that soaked many of the estimated 17,000 attendees.

"We're going to start at 5 since it's a little wet and we shouldn't start at 10," the president said before hitting the switch that lit the giant tree.

The ceremony was accompanied by celebrity performances from Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and others.

An "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones" known as Radiant Orchid is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, unseating the more verdantly inclined Emerald that dominated the previous 12 months.

Pantone Color Institute, which describes itself as a global authority on color, describes its latest pick as "a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" whose "rosy undertones radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women."

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