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By James Pearson SEOUL (Reuters) - A $50 portable media player is providing many North Koreans a window to the outside world despite the government's efforts to keep its people isolated - a symbol of change in one of the world's most repressed societies. By some estimates, up to half of all urban North Korean households have an easily concealed "notel", a small portable media player used to watch DVDs or content stored on USB sticks that can be easily smuggled into the country and passed hand to hand. People are exchanging South Korean soaps, pop music, Hollywood films and news programs, all of which are expressly prohibited by the Pyongyang regime, according to North Korean defectors, activists and recent visitors to the isolated country. "The North Korean government takes their national ideology extremely seriously, so the spread of all this media that competes with their propaganda is a big and growing problem for them," said Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an organization that works with defectors.
NEW YORK (AP) — An apparent gas explosion leveled an apartment building, largely destroyed another and launched rubble and shards of glass across streets in the heart of Manhattan's trendy East Village on Thursday, injuring a dozen people. Smoke could be seen and smelled for miles.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sam Dekker scored a career-high 23 points, Frank Kaminsky added 19 and top-seeded Wisconsin rallied in the final 10 minutes to hold off North Carolina 79-72 on Thursday night and advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.