WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama interviewed federal judge Diane Wood of Chicago on Tuesday for an opening on the Supreme Court, the fourth candidate known to have had face-to-face talks with the
president, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press.Wood met with Obama in the Oval Office and also interviewed separately with Vice President Joe Biden. The source familiar with those sessions spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the privacy of Obama’s deliberations.The president appears to be homing in on a decision. He has done sit-down interviews in recent days with at least three other finalists: Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appeals court judges Merrick Garland, who serves in the District of Columbia, and Sidney Thomas, who is based in Montana.Tuesday also marked 25 days since Justice John Paul Stevens announced his plans to retire from the court this summer. By comparison, that is exactly the period of time Obama took last year in evaluating candidates before nominating Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter, who also retired.Wood has been considered a front-runner all along. She interviewed with Obama for last year’s court opening and was said to have impressed the president. He ultimately chose Sotomayor, making her the first Hispanic to serve on the high court upon her confirmation by the Senate.As for this time, Obama’s announcement of a nominee is expected any day.His choice is expected to leave intact the ideological balance of the court — four conservatives, four liberals and one swing vote. Stevens leads the liberal bloc.Obama has been considering a broader list of candidates. Among the others are federal appeals court judge Ann Williams, former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow.It is not known whether any of them have also met personally with the president.The White House had no comment about the president’s interviews.Wood is a former law school colleague of the president’s and knows him well.She joined the University of Chicago law faculty in 1981, served as associate dean from 1989 through 1992 and still lectures there. Obama, who is from Chicago, taught constitutional law at the same law school and overlapped with Wood.Wood, 59, has served on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since her 1995 nomination by President Bill Clinton and smooth confirmation.She is known for sparring well and being a persuasive force with conservative jurists, which could be a huge selling point for the president. Obama is eager to choose someone he thinks will not just interpret the law fairly but also help in forming a winning majority on a court that is often split down the middle.Wood also offers the diversity of experience that Obama likes. She has been a Justice Department official, a lawyer in private practice, a teacher and a judge.Yet, she has also drawn fire from conservatives for rulings that put her on the side of abortion-rights activists, which could be a factor in her confirmation hearings. She once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who in 1973 wrote the decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in the United States.
Security slip let suspect on plane, near takeoff By EILEEN SULLIVAN and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The no-fly list failed to keep the Times Square suspect off the plane. Faisal Shahzad had boarded a jetliner bound for the United Arab Emirates Monday night before federal authorities pulled him back.The night’s events, gradually coming to light, underscored the flaws in the nation’s aviation security system, which despite its technologies, lists and information sharing, often comes down to someone making a right call.As federal agents closed in, Faisal Shahzad was aboard Emirates Flight 202. He reserved a ticket on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport, paid cash on arrival and walked through security without being stopped. By the time Customs and Border Protection officials spotted Shahzad’s name on the passenger list and recognized him as the bombing suspect they were looking for, he was in his seat and the plane was preparing to leave the gate.But it didn’t. At the last minute, the pilot was notified, the jetliner’s door was opened and Shahzad was taken into custody.After authorities pulled Shahzad off the plane, he admitted he was behind the crude Times Square car bomb, officials said. He also claimed to have been trained at a terror camp in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region of Waziristan, according to court documents. That raised increased concern that the bombing was an international terror plot.Shahzad, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, was charged Tuesday with terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in Saturday evening’s failed Times Square bombing. According to a federal complaint, he confessed to buying an SUV, rigging it with a homemade bomb and driving it into the busy area where he tried to detonate it.The Obama administration played down the fact that Shahzad, a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, had made it aboard the plane. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wouldn’t talk about it, other than to say Customs officials prevented the plane from taking off. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the security system has fallback procedures in place for times like this, and they worked.And Attorney General Eric Holder said he „was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him.” But it seemed clear the airline either never saw or ignored key information that would kept Shahzad off the plane, a fact that dampened what was otherwise hailed as a fast, successful law enforcement operation.The no-fly list is supposed to mean just that. And Shahzad’s name was added to the list early Monday afternoon as a result of breaking developments in the investigation, according to a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.But when Emirates sold the ticket, it was working off an outdated list. Airline officials would have had to check a Web forum where updates are sent if it were to flag him. Because they didn’t, law enforcement officials were not aware of his travel plans until they received the passenger list 30 minutes before takeoff, the official said.By that time, passengers are usually on board.Gibbs blamed the airline but emphasized a more positive bottom line: U.S. authorities did get Shahzad on the no-fly list and he never took off.”There’s a series of built-in redundancies, this being one of them,” Gibbs said. „If there’s a mistake by a carrier, it can be double-checked.” The list is only as good as the nation’s intelligence and the experts who analyze it. If a lead is not shared, or if an analyst is unable to connect one piece of information to another, a terrorist could slip onto an airplane because his name is not on the watch list.Officials allege that’s just what took place ahead of the attempted Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound jet. In the case of the Times Square suspect, the intelligence process worked: Shahzad’s name was on the list, but the airlines didn’t check it when he bought his ticket.Shahzad went through normal airport security before he boarded the plane. He was unarmed and had no explosive material on him when he was arrested.Emirates did not return repeated calls for comments. Earlier in the day, the company issued a general statement saying it was cooperating with investigators and takes every precaution to ensure its passengers’ safety.The reliance on airlines to check government lists has been a known problem for years. The government has long planned to take over the responsibility for matching passengers to watch lists, but the transition has taken longer than expected. The new program is still in the test phase for domestic airlines and is still months away from beginning with international carriers.Associated Press writers Pete Yost, Joan Lowy and Natasha Metzler contributed to this report.
Pakistan native admits to Times Square bomb plot By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
NEW YORK – Seized from a plane about to fly to the Middle East, a Pakistan-born man admitted training to make bombs at a terrorism camp in his native land before he rigged an SUV with a homemade device to explode in Times Square, authorities said Tuesday.Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently spent five months in Pakistan, was arrested on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges for trying to blow up the crude gasoline-and-propane bomb amid tourists and theatergoers Saturday evening.He was in custody after being hauled off a Dubai-bound plane at Kennedy Airport that he had been able to board Monday night despite being placed on the federal „no-fly” list. Authorities had planned to arrest Shahzad, who had been under constant watch from mid-afternoon, at his Connecticut home, but lost track of him, two people familiar with the probe told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the breach in surveillance.Because Customs and Border Protection agents were on the lookout for Shahzad, they recognized his name on a passenger manifest and ordered the flight stopped so they could arrest him.Authorities shed little light on what might have motivated Shahzad — who since moving from Pakistan to Connecticut had acquired a master’s degree in business administration and a house in the suburbs that subsequently was lost to foreclosure. He reportedly came from a background of privilege and wealth — the son of a retired air vice marshal.A real estate broker who worked with Shahzad in 2004 said the bombing suspect had expressed a dislike for former President George W. Bush and his policy in Iraq.Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad has been providing valuable information to investigators as they sought to determine the scope of the plot. A court hearing for him was canceled Tuesday in part because of his continuing cooperation.”Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country,” Holder said.Holder and other U.S. officials did not elaborate on whether they believed any international terrorist group was involved, or whether Shahzad, after his training, was acting on his own.The FBI read Shahzad his constitutional rights after he provided information, and he continued to cooperate, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said.Shahzad, 30, had been identified as the man who recently purchased the SUV in cash and was added to the no-fly list early Monday afternoon as a result of breaking developments in the investigation, according to a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.Counterterrorism officials send electronic notifications to airlines when watch lists are updated, but it is up to the airlines to check the web forum where the notifications are sent. If Emirates airlines had done this, the airline would have been able to flag Shahzad when he purchased his ticket that night. Because they didn’t, law enforcement officials were not aware of his travel plans until they received the flight manifest 30 minutes before takeoff, the official said.Customs and Border Protection officials, who were on the lookout for Shahzad since the early afternoon, recognized his name on the manifest and ordered the flight stopped so they could arrest him. The flight had not left the gate at that point, the official said.Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano credited Customs officials with recognizing Shahzad’s name on the manifest and stopping the flight. But she had little explanation for how he was able to board the plane with a last-minute ticket.Passengers on the flight, which arrived in Dubai about seven hours late on Wednesday, said there was no panic, and the arrest was done quietly and calmly.Robert Woodward, 41, of Boulder, Colo., was traveling to Dubai on business and gave high marks to security and the flight crew.”They were very efficient. There was no commotion, no general alarm or concern,” said Woodward, who didn’t understand the incident was linked to the Times Square bombing attempt until he was told by an airport security guard.First-class passenger Samir al-Ammari, a Saudi who was in the U.S. on a business trip, said he was concerned. „Honestly, I was worried,” he said. „I was planning to cancel the flight and get another one.”According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Shahzad confessed to buying the SUV, rigging it with a homemade bomb and driving it into Times Square. The complaint says he admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan, a region where the Pakistani Taliban operates with near-impunity. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bomb plot, but U.S. officials say there’s no evidence to back that up.The complaint charged Shahzad with trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction, attempted car bombing and obstructing interstate and foreign commerce by trying to kill and maim U.S. citizens.The report of Shahzad’s training raises the possibility the attack was a coordinated international effort, but authorities have not said whether they believe that to be the case.In Pakistan, authorities said they had detained several people in connection with the bombing attempt, although the FBI said it had no confirmation that these arrests were relevant to the case. Reports also surfaced in Pakistan that Shahzad came from a wealthy family and was the son of a former high-ranking air force officer. President Barack Obama said „hundreds of lives” may have been saved Saturday night by the quick action of ordinary citizens and law enforcement authorities who saw the smoking SUV — a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder — parked in Times Square.”As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated,” Obama said.Married with two children, Shahzad had obtained U.S. citizenship after emigrating from Pakistan.In Bridgeport, Conn., authorities removed filled plastic bags and a bomb squad came and went from a house in a working-class neighborhood of multifamily homes. FBI agents found a box of consumer-grade firecrackers and other fireworks in the driveway that they were marking off as evidence.Shahzad graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a bachelor’s degree in computer applications and information systems in 2001 and later returned to earn a master’s in business administration in 2005, the school said.He had returned Feb. 3 from a five-month trip to Pakistan, claiming he was visiting his parents, the complaint said.Real estate broker Igor Djuric, who represented Shahzad when he was buying a home in Shelton, Conn., in 2004, said Shahzad made clear he didn’t like President George W. Bush or his policy in Iraq. Djuric said the comments were not hateful but he was surprised to hear them because they hardly knew each other. Shahzad bought the two-story grayish-brown colonial in a working-class neighborhood for $273,000 and lost it to foreclosure last year. Frank DelVecchio, a broker trying to sell it for Shahzad, said Shahzad told him to let the bank take the house because he owed too much on it and he planned to return to Pakistan.He worked from mid-2006 to May 2009 as a junior financial analyst for the Affinion Group, a marketing firm in Norwalk, Conn. Company spokesman Michael Bush said Shahzad held a lower-level position dealing with the company’s budget and projected income, and left on good terms.”It was a voluntary decision. … There was not firing or anything like that,” Bush said.Law enforcement officials say Shahzad answered an Internet ad for the Pathfinder, and gave a cell phone number to the registered owner. They later used the cell phone number to track him and learn his name.Shahzad paid $1,300 cash three weeks ago for the SUV, going first for a test-drive in a supermarket parking lot and offering less than the $1,800 advertised price. Peggy Colas, 19, of Bridgeport, sold the car to Shahzad, law enforcement officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.She and another person involved in the transaction, possibly her father, gave authorities a description of the suspect and were later shown a sketch. Keys found in the SUV’s ignition fit the car Shahzad left at the airport and a home in Connecticut.The vehicle identification number had been removed from the Pathfinder’s dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine, and investigators used it to track the owner of record.The complaint said Shahzad apparently tinted the SUV’s windows after buying it. The bomb inside had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended to detonate gas cans and propane tanks.A metal rifle cabinet in the SUV’s cargo area was packed with fertilizer, but NYPD bomb experts believe it was not a type volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.Police said the SUV bomb could have produced „a significant fireball” and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows.Several of Shahzad’s current and former neighbors say he kept largely to himself, rarely socializing or even stopping to chat.”He usually walks around alone, looking lonely and kind of depressed usually,” said Nejilia Gayden, 18, of Bridgeport. „Sometimes he’ll mumble to himself.”Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the arrest should not be as used as an excuse for anti-Muslim actions. „We will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers,” he said. More than a dozen people with U.S. citizenship or residency, like Shahzad, have been accused in the past two years of supporting, attempting or carrying out attacks on U.S. soil, illustrating the threat of violent extremism from within the U.S.Among them are Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Army psychiatrist of Palestinian descent, charged with fatally shooting 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas, and Najibullah Zazi, a Denver-area airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty in February in a plot to bomb New York subways.The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Times Square incident in a one-minute video posted on websites Sunday. The video was narrated by Qari Hussain Mehsud, the group’s chief bomb maker who is also in charge of recruiting suicide attackers. Two further videos were released Monday, one of which featured Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, threatening more attacks against the United States and its NATO allies. U.S. officials initially questioned the claim, saying the Pakistani Taliban lack the international reach and have made outlandish, false statements in the past.However, the Taliban have links to extremist groups, including al-Qaida, that have pulled off attacks outside Pakistan. Some U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials believe militant groups work together in complex attacks, such as the Dec. 30 suicide bombing at a CIA base in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA employees, allowing one organization to claim full responsibility to build morale in its ranks and gain prestige among extremist-minded Muslims. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan, Pete Yost, Matt Apuzzo and Julie Pace in Washington; David Crary, Colleen Long, David B. Caruso and Sara Kugler in New York, Chris Brummitt in Islamabad, Adam Schreck in Dubai; John Christoffersen in Bridgeport and Shelton, Conn.; Dave Collins, Stephen Singer, Pat Eaton-Robb and Stephanie Reitz in Hartford, Conn.; and the AP News Research Center in New York.
Coats wins Ind. primary; NC, Ohio back incumbents By LIZ SIDOTI and DEANNA MARTIN, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS – Voters in North Carolina and Ohio kept their incumbents and those in Indiana turned to an old Capitol Hill hand — Republican Dan Coats — in Tuesday’s primaries despite the nation’s bottom-barrel support for Congress and frustration with the Washington establishment.This fall, Coats — who was recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee — will face Democrat Brad Ellsworth, whose nomination is assured. The candidates are seeking the seat held by retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.Coats, 66, retired from the Senate in 1998, has worked as a lobbyist and was U.S. ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush. He overcame spirited challenges from four, including state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, a tea party favorite who was endorsed by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, and former Rep. John Hostettler, who had the support of one-time presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.Democrats quickly piled on, calling Coats a „deeply flawed candidate” and casting him as a Washington insider beholden to special interests.Turnout was exceptionally light in Ohio and North Carolina, a possible indication that the anger fueling voters across the country over economic woes, persistently high unemployment and Congress itself wasn’t translating into votes — and, perhaps, the limited influence of the conservatives and libertarians who make up the fledgling tea party coalition.”We rebuilt the pyramids and recarved the Grand Canyon in our spare time,” joked poll worker Dina Roberts, who saw only 147 voters in nearly 12 hours at her downtown Indianapolis polling site.By the end of the day, however, the Republican turnout in the Senate primary was the highest this decade, including presidential election years.In all three states, candidates backed by Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington squared off against challengers drawing their support from elsewhere. While it’s difficult to draw concrete conclusions about the state of the country from just a few races, the results gave some idea of whether the national parties still can influence rank-and-file supporters.At the very least, the outcome of Tuesday’s primaries — the first set of contests in the two months since Texas held its March primary — set the stage for November’s congressional matchups and provided early insights about voter attitudes ahead of this fall’s elections.In one notable House race in Indiana, 14-term Republican Rep. Dan Burton — Indiana’s longest-serving congressman — struggled but managed to fend off six challengers for his 5th Congressional District seat.Elsewhere in the state, Rep. Mark Souder easily won the GOP nomination in the 3rd District after a nasty campaign; Souder will face Democrat Tom Hayhurst in the fall.In Ohio, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a former Ohio attorney general backed by Democrats in Washington, withstood a challenge from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to capture the party’s Senate nomination. The two ran to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich. Fisher will face former Rep. Rob Portman, the budget director and trade representative under George W. Bush.In North Carolina, first-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr, whose public approval numbers are lower than expected, easily won his party’s nomination. Democrats won’t decide his general election opponent until a June 22 runoff as none of the six candidates achieved the 40 percent of the vote necessary to win outright.The runoff will pit Secretary of State Elaine Marshall against Cal Cunningham, a former state senator who is the favored choice of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.In the 6th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Howard Coble, who first won his seat in 1984, easily beat five opponents. And in the 8th District, first-term Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell survived a primary challenge from one of his former campaign volunteers. Nancy Shakir ran against Kissell in part because of his opposition to President Barack Obama‘s health care law.North Carolina’s director of the State Board of Elections projected turnout to be slightly above 2006 levels, when only 12 percent of voters cast a primary ballot. Said elections chief Gary Bartlett: „I was hoping for more.”Sidoti reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
53 hours, 20 minutes: From terror plot to arrest By COLLEEN LONG and TOM HAYS, Associated Press
NEW YORK – The license plate had been switched and the vehicle identification number stripped from the dashboard of the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder holding a crude bomb in Times Square. Smoke from the faulty firecracker detonators might have ruined evidence.Then investigators managed to recover the VIN, hidden on the SUV’s engine block — and thus began a chase that led to the arrest of the would-be bomber 53 hours and 20 minutes after the smoking vehicle was spotted on one of the busiest streets in America.A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, was hauled off a flight to Dubai and arrested late Monday; federal authorities say he has admitted to plotting the attack. He was charged Tuesday with terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.”Jack Bauer might have caught him in ’24’,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, referring to Fox’s popular TV show „24.” „But in the real world, 53’s not bad.”The investigation’s clock started ticking at 6:28 p.m. Saturday when a security camera captured images of the dark-colored Pathfinder with tinted windows parked on West 45th Street, in an area lined with Broadway theaters and restaurants.Six minutes later, a street vendor pointed out the SUV, which had started belching white smoke and making „popping noises,” to a police officer on horseback. The officer, Wayne Rhatigan, called in a report of a car fire, flagged down other officers and started evacuating the area.At 6:40 p.m., firefighters were on the scene. After breaking the car’s side and back windows to try to put out the fire, they discovered its sinister contents: three propane tanks, two gallons of gasoline and a load of fertilizer, with fireworks and some cheap alarm clocks as a trigger.The New York Police Department bomb squad was called in and went to work dismantling the device, defusing it by 11:30 p.m. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, would be shut down for 10 hours.Meanwhile, the NYPD and FBI were pursuing the license plate attached to the back of the SUV. Investigators tracked it to a used auto parts shop in Stratford, Conn., waking the owner at 3 a.m. Sunday and discovering the plate was connected to a different vehicle.Investigators also spoke to the owner of an auto shop in nearby Bridgeport because a sticker on the Pathfinder had indicated the SUV was sold by his dealership. That also led nowhere.Then at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Detective John Wright slid underneath the SUV at a Queens lab and discovered the clue that would crack the case — a VIN number stamped on the bottom of the engine block.That led authorities to a Bridgeport, Conn., man and his 19-year-old daughter, Peggy Colas, who had posted ads on eBay and other websites to sell a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, court papers said.During questioning on Sunday morning and again Monday, the teenager told investigators she met the man who bought her car at a supermarket parking lot on April 24 and he took the vehicle for a test drive. She was asking $1,800; he offered $500 less. She agreed and he paid her in cash — with 13 crisp $100 bills.No bill of sale was necessary, she said the buyer told her, and he already had plates. She did not know his name — but she did have a cell number.That led to a prepaid cell phone activated on April 16 and used to call Colas several times, investigators said. A check of phone records showed it was also used to contact a Pennsylvania fireworks shop.By 11 a.m. Monday, investigators knew the suspect’s name.Agents later showed Colas a photo array with six photos, including one of Shahzad. Authorities say she picked Shahzad.Meanwhile, there was more evidence. A set of keys left in the Pathfinder’s ignition turned out to belong to a white Isuzu Trooper that Shazhad left parked at New York’s Kennedy airport Monday night, as well as to his apartment in Bridgeport, Conn. At a garage at the residence, investigators recovered fireworks and fertilizer, court papers said. Shahzad was spotted at around 3 p.m. Monday coming out of a store near his home and was tailed by investigators. He was also placed on a no-fly list. Authorities planned to arrest him at his apartment that evening, but Shahzad may have gotten spooked by news reports that investigators were seeking a Pakistani suspect in Connecticut, two people familiar with the probe said. He managed to slip federal surveillance, according to those sources and a law enforcement official. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case.Shahzad headed for Kennedy airport, calling in a reservation for an Emirates flight to Dubai by cell phone while en route, and paying for the ticket in cash before boarding the plane, authorities said.Emirates officials were unaware he was on the no-fly list because they did not check a Web forum where the latest updates are posted. So it was only when a customs agent assigned to the case spotted Shahzad’s name on the flight manifest 30 minutes before takeoff that authorities knew he was on board.He was belted in to his seat when FBI investigators and NYPD officers entered the jetliner and took him into custody.The time was 11:45 p.m. — 53 hours and 20 minutes after the Times Square scare began.Associated Press Writer Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.Eds: UPDATES that Shahzad eluded federal surveillance, airline did not see his name on updated no-fly list. CORRECTS that Shahzad removed from plane before it taxied. Multimedia: An interactive graphic showing the Times Square bomb area, a diagram of the SUV with bombing materials inside, photos, video and a timeline of vehicle bombs used in the U.S. will be updating with a map of key events and locations, _national/times_square_scare.
Ice cap on west Ugandan mountain range splits By AP
KAMPALA, Uganda – Ugandan wildlife authorities say the ice cap on the country’s western Rwenzori mountain range has split after extensive melting caused by global warming.Nelson Guma says ice covering Mount Margherita, the second highest peak in Africa, has melted forming a large crevasse some 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) wide.Guma said Tuesday the split occurred on the climbing route to Mount Margherita and that tourists can no longer climb that peak, but authorities are working to create another route to the peak. The East African peak has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Environmental protection officer Henry Mujuzi says that because of global warming, the ice cap, which in the 1950s had covered four square miles, now covers less than a square mile.
Ahmadinejad: Iran sanctions effort will undermine Obama By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers
NEW YORK — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday brushed off the threat of new United Nations sanctions against Iran , saying they’d have little impact and would end up undermining President Barack Obama‘s standing at home and abroad.”The failure of the motto of change is really not going to harm Iran . It will harm mainly the U.S. administration,” Ahmadinejad asserted, referring to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign slogan, „Change you can believe in.””While we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either,” he said, warning that the approval of new measures „will mean relations between Iran and the U.S. will never be improved again.”The U.S. and Iran haven’t had diplomatic relations in three decades.Ahmadinejad, who began his second term as president last year amid election fraud charges that led to bloody clashes between his regime and the opposition, made his comments at a wide-ranging news conference one day after he addressed an international arms control conference at the U.N.Sitting before an Iranian flag and flanked by top aides, he used many of the questions to continue the attacks he launched against the U.S. from the U.N. General Assembly podium, questioning whether the only nation ever to have used nuclear weapons has the standing to accuse Iran of seeking nuclear arms.Speaking through a translator, he also warned that Iran would defend Lebanon and Syria if they’re attacked by Israel over alleged missile shipments to Lebanese militants, and he claimed that Iranian women enjoy better rights and treatment than their European counterparts, an assertion at odds with numerous human rights reports.Ahmadinejad’s speech to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was part of an intense Iranian diplomatic campaign to head off or dilute a fourth round of sanctions for defying U.N. orders to suspend its uranium enrichment program.Enrichment is the process that produces low-enriched uranium for power plants — Iran’s professed intention — and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, which is what U.S. and European officials charge is the country’s real goal.The nearly month-long conference coincides with deliberations between U.S., Russian, Chinese, British, French and German diplomats over the new U.N. sanctions resolution, which is expected to target senior Iranian officials and companies involved in the nuclear program.Earlier Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov , Moscow’s chief negotiator on Iran , told reporters that the talks on the sanctions „are slowly moving forward.”Ahmadinejad insisted that Iran has been unaffected by U.S. sanctions imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution or by the existing U.N. nuclear sanctions, an assertion that U.S. officials and independent experts dispute, citing the worsening state of Iran’s economy.”The Iranian nation has been able to withstand all of the sanctions brought by the United States and its allies,” he contended. „Sanctions in a free trade world are a broken deal. But we do fear that a group of radicals may be ready to push Mr. Obama, who came to office with the motto of change, speedily towards an irreversible point.”The Iranian leader didn’t identify the group to which he referred, and he denied he meant that Washington would go to war over Iran’s nuclear program when he referred to „an irreversible point.””We are not concerned about any war against Iran ,” he said. „When I say an irreversible point will be reached, I’m not speaking of war. I mean that Mr. Obama will reach a political point,” he said. „We’re not concerned by war. There is no power in the world that can engage in a military attack against Iran .”Obama has been pursuing what he calls a „dual track” approach of offering to negotiate a diplomatic resolution to the dispute while using sanctions to force a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment.U.S. officials, however, also say the president hasn’t taken the option of launching military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities off the table. MORE FROM MCCLATCHY
Canada business confidence slips on capacity woes By REUTERS
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Business confidence in Canada dipped slightly in the second quarter as companies’ willingness to invest was tempered by persisting slack in the economy and a strong Canadian dollar, the Conference Board of Canada said on Tuesday.The board’s index of business confidence edged down to 95.6 points from 96.0 in the first quarter.”Respondents are optimistic about general economic conditions and their firms’ financial position, but they remain concerned about weak capacity utilization rates,” the Conference Board report said.”Confidence will not resume its climb until more firms start operating close to capacity.”In a positive trend already flagged by the Bank of Canada, nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed said they intend to boost expenditures over the next six months.Likewise, overall sentiment on profit margins jumped to a six-year high.The balance of opinion on overall economic conditions, which is the difference between those who were optimistic and those who were not, was 63, the second-highest level in the last decade, the report said.But the main worry for companies was poor capacity utilization rates, with sentiment on this issue worsening from the first quarter and with 22 percent of respondents saying it could affect their willingness to invest.Almost a third said the appreciation of the Canadian dollar to around parity with the U.S. dollar could prompt them to think twice about their capital expenditure plans.(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Peter Galloway)