In Brief

July 12, 2009|By From Sun news services

Attorney general leaning toward torture inquiry

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric H. Holder is leaning toward appointing a criminal prosecutor to investigate whether CIA personnel tortured terrorism suspects after Sept. 11, 2001, setting the stage for a conflict with Obama administration officials who would prefer that the issues remain in the past, according to sources familiar with his thinking. Naming a prosecutor to probe alleged abuses during the Bush era would run counter to President Barack Obama's oft-repeated desire to be "looking forward, not backward." Top political aides have expressed concern that such an investigation might spawn partisan debates that could overwhelm Obama's ambitious legislative agenda. The White House resisted efforts by congressional Democrats to establish a "truth and reconciliation" panel. But fresh disclosures have continued to emerge about mistreatment, including a secret CIA watchdog report, recently reviewed by Holder, highlighting episodes in which detainees were subjected to simulated drowning, sleep deprivation, slammed into walls or confined in small, dark spaces.

Lightning delays launch of space shuttle Endeavour

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA scrubbed the space shuttle Endeavour's Saturday evening launch after lightning struck at least 11 times near the seaside launch pad. NASA technicians found no damage after an electrical storm Friday afternoon, but said they will need at least another day to check critical systems. A mission management team plans to meet early today to determine whether all the testing has been completed and whether to fuel Endeavour for a possible launch tonight. Liftoff would be at 7:13 p.m. if NASA attempts to launch today. Mike Moses, chairman of the team, said 11 lightning strikes were within three-tenths of a mile of the pad, though none struck the shuttle, external tank or the two solid rocket boosters. At the pad, the shuttle has an elaborate protection system with sensors and wires to direct lightning away from the shuttle and its rockets.

Carlos becomes hurricane off Baja's Pacific coast

MIAMI - The National Hurricane Center says Carlos has become a hurricane far off Mexico's Pacific coast. The storm's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 80 mph and the center in Miami says the storm could strengthen in the next 24 hours. As of 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, Carlos was centered about 1,000 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. The storm is moving westward at 12 mph on a path taking it farther out to sea. The center says hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from Carlos' center. Tropical storm winds extend up to 85 miles from the storm's center.

Militants in Philippines free Italian worker after 6 months

MANILA, Philippines - Al-Qaida-linked militants freed an ailing Italian Red Cross worker today from six months of jungle captivity in the southern Philippines, officials said. Eugenio Vagni, 63, appeared tired but in good health as Abu Sayyaf gunmen handed him over to a provincial vice governor shortly after midnight in jungle near Maimbung township on Jolo Island, officials said. In Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI expressed relief that the abduction was over, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA. The aid worker, who suffers from hypertension and a hernia, was kidnapped along with two Red Cross colleagues after inspecting a Jolo jail water project Jan. 15. The Swiss and the Filipino hostages had been freed earlier by the militants, but the Abu Sayyaf held on to Vagni for months.

-From Sun news services

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