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Gates warns of North Korea missile threat to U.S.

BEIJINGDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned Tuesday that North Korea was within five years of being able to strike the continental United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile and said that, combined with its expanding nuclear program, the country “is becoming a direct threat to the United States.”

Gates is a former director of the CIA, and his statement, officials said, reflected both a new assessment by U.S. intelligence officials and his own concern that Washington had consistently underestimated the pace at which the North was developing nuclear and missile technologies.

Biden assures Karzai of U.S. presence beyond 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan Vice President Joe Biden met with President Hamid Karzai here Tuesday and promised a lasting U.S. commitment to the country well beyond 2014, when NATO forces are scheduled to turn over security of the nation to Afghan forces.

“The United States, if the Afghan people want it, are prepared and we are not leaving in 2014,” Biden said during an unannounced visit to Kabul. “Hopefully, we will have totally turned over to the Afghan security forces the ability to maintain the security of the country, but we are not leaving if you don’t want us to leave.”

Wikileaks founder said to fear ‘illegal rendition’ to U.S.

LONDONLawyers for Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks antisecrecy group, said on Tuesday that they would oppose his extradition to Sweden because he might subsequently face “illegal rendition” to the United States, risking imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or even the death penalty.

They made the assertion in defense documents released after Assange made a brief appearance in a British high-security court for a largely procedural hearing concerning his resistance to demands for his extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The documents for the first time publicly named the two WikiLeaks volunteers who have accused Assange of forcing them to have sex with him without a condom in Sweden last August, in one case while the woman was asleep.

Goldman vows to be more open about its operations

A move that follows months of mounting scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators and shareholders who worry that Goldman is the black box of the investment banking world.

As a start, Goldman restated its financial results for the third quarter, giving better insight into how much revenue its hedge fund, real estate and private equity operations generated, among other things.

This initial disclosure was short of details on Goldman’s business, however. Some revenue appears to have simply been reallocated to different business lines.

“It remains to be seen how much detail we’ll get,” said Jim Sinegal, an analyst with Morningstar.