Daily Dispatches
FBI poster of Robert Levinson
Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta
FBI poster of Robert Levinson

Midday Roundup: How the CIA lost an operative in Iran


Unclassified. An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that one of three Americans currently believed to be detained in Iran was, in fact, working for the CIA. When FBI agent Robert Levinson vanished in Iran in 2007, the U.S. government said he traveled to the country as a private citizen on private business. In reality, he was working for CIA analysts who had no authority to send him on the mission in the first place. Levinson’s case has received attention recently because the United States struck a deal with Iran on its nuclear program without asking Iran to release him or two other Americans it is believed to have in custody: Pastor Saeed Abedini and alleged spy Amir Hekmati.

Twitter reverses decision. Twitter has reversed a change to its blocking policy after users sent tweets of outrage saying the new functionality made them feel unprotected. The change in policy morphed the blocking function from a virtual brick wall to a one-way mirror; the person you blocked could see you but you couldn’t see them. Twitter said it designed the change to make it harder for would-be harassers to know they had been blocked, thus cutting down on retaliation. But users said they wanted more protection, so Twitter reinstated its previous blocking function. The flap highlights the challenges companies face in policing online bullying.

Power play. North Korea’s state-run media announced Friday the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, a man once portrayed as a mentor and father figure to his nephew. North Korean media are casting the uncle as a morally corrupt traitor who attempted to use the death of Kim Jong Il to gain power for himself. Experts are divided on whether the sudden turn of events reflects turmoil within the highest levels of power or a show of strength by Kim Jong Un. Either way, the purge is an unsettling development for a world that is already wary of Kim’s unpredictability. “If he has to go as high as purging and then executing [his uncle], it tells you that everything’s not normal,” said Victor Cha, a former senior White House adviser on Asia.

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Contagious. Princeton University officials say more than 90 percent of eligible students and staff received a meningitis vaccine this week as part of the university’s effort to halt an outbreak that has affected seven students and one visitor. Nearly 5,300 people chose to get the vaccine, which is approved for use in Europe, Australia, and Canada, but is not yet approved for general use in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the unusual step, the Food and Drug Administration approved it, and Princeton covered the cost. The shots were available for all undergraduates along with some graduate students and employees Monday through Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.


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