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Thailand in state of emergency

BANGKOK — Thailand's beleaguered prime minister declared a state of emergency to quell weeks of paralyzing protests costing businesses tens of millions of dollars. But the demonstrators championing the rights of the rural poor remained uncowed, and whether the showdown can end without violence is unknown.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acted after mostly peaceful protests escalated Wednesday when demonstrators burst into parliament and forced lawmakers to flee on ladders over a back wall, with senior officials hastily carried away by helicopter.

Wednesday's chaos was a continuation of the long-running battle between partisans of the country's former leader — Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup — and those who oppose him.

N. Korea gives Boston man 8 years hard labor

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea sentenced a Boston man to eight years of hard labor and ordered him to pay a $700,000 fine for crossing into the communist country illegally earlier this year, state media reported.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, was the fourth American detained by North Korea for illegal entry in less than a year. Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were held for five months before their release last August, and activist Robert Park was expelled some 40 days after crossing into the country last Christmas.

Gomes, who had been teaching English in South Korea before his arrest, acknowledged his wrongdoing at Pyongyang's Central Court on Tuesday, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch Wednesday.

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