National briefs: U.S. lost $10.5 billion on GM bailout

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DETROIT -- The U.S. government ended up losing $10.5 billion on the General Motors bailout, but it says the alternative would have been far worse.

The Treasury Department sold its final shares of the Detroit auto giant Monday, recovering $39 billion of the $49.5 billion it spent to save the dying automaker at the height of the financial crisis five years ago.

Without the bailout, the country would have lost more than a million jobs, and the economy could have slipped from recession into a depression, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on a conference call with reporters.

Confession coerced

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 85-year-old U.S. Korean War veteran who was detained for weeks by North Korea said Monday that the videotaped confession in which he apologized for killing North Koreans during the war was given involuntarily and under duress.

In a written statement, Merrill Newman said he tried to show that the words he read on the recording were not his own by emphasizing the apology's awkward phrasing and poor English grammar.

The former Army lieutenant said that while the North Koreans treated him well during his detention at a Pyongyang hotel, an interrogator told him repeatedly that if he did not apologize for his alleged crimes during the Korean War and during his visit to the communist nation, he would be sentenced to 15 years in jail for espionage.

S.D. mayor avoids jail

SAN DIEGO -- When he was mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner waited to be alone with women to kiss, grope and manhandle them without any witnesses, according to a probation officer's report released after he was sentenced Monday to home confinement.

Mr. Filner, 71, a Pittsburgh native, apologized and told the judge he would try to earn the trust of those he betrayed and recover his integrity -- a sharp contrast to his defiant resignation speech nearly four months ago in which he said he was the victim of "a lynch mob."

Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta sentenced Filner to three months of home confinement and three years of probation -- the same punishment that prosecutors had recommended in a plea agreement reached in October.

Also in the nation ...

About 3.5 billion years ago -- around the time life is thought to have first arisen on Earth -- Mars had a large freshwater lake that might well have been hospitable to life, scientists at the California Institute of Technology reported Monday, based on explorations by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. ... Federal officials say 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies saw themselves as being "above the law," engaging in corruption and civil rights abuses that included beating inmates and visitors, falsifying reports, and trying to block an FBI probe of the nation's largest jail system. The charges were announced at a news conference Monday after 16 of the 18 defendants were arrested earlier in the day.

-- Compiled from news services


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