Thursday May 2, 2013

FBI: 3 men removed backpack containing fireworks from Boston suspect’s room after bombing

BOSTON (AP) -- Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and accused Wednesday of removing a backpack containing hollowed-out fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the attack to keep him from getting into trouble.

In court papers, the FBI said one of them threw the backpack in the garbage -- it was later found in a landfill by law enforcement officers -- after the young men concluded from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19-year-olds from Kazakhstan, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. Robel Phillipos, 19, who graduated from the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School with Tsarnaev, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev’s room.

The three were not accused of any involvement in the bombing itself. But in a footnote in the court papers outlining the charges, the FBI said that about a month before the bombing, Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb.

The lawyers for the Kazakh students said their clients had nothing to do with the bombing and were just as shocked by the crime as everyone else. Phillipos’ attorney, Derege Demissie, said outside court: "The only allegation is he made a misrepresentation.


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Mass funeral held for unidentified Bangladesh building collapse victims; death toll tops 400

JURAIN, Bangladesh (AP) -- Dozens of Bangladeshi garment workers, their bodies too battered or decomposed to be identified, were buried in a mass funeral Wednesday, a week after the eight-story building they worked in toppled down, killing at least 410 people and injuring thousands.

Hundreds attended the traditional Muslim funeral and many more looked on from the roofs of nearby buildings as the bodies, rotting in the spring heat, were brought to the graveyard on the back of flatbed trucks.

Onlookers covered their noses. One woman rushed through the crowd to the back of a truck wailing that one of the bodies was her sister’s. She begged to take it as family members held on to her to keep her from collapsing.

Local men and boys recited a traditional Muslim prayer for the dead. Then, 34 bodies were unloaded and placed in the graves.

Workers at the cemetery have dug several long rows of graves as authorities expect to bury scores more unidentified bodies in the coming days.

Syria’s Assad makes rare appearance in Damascus
as rockets hit capital

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad made a rare public appearance at a Damascus power station on Wednesday, while two bombs exploded near the city center, killing one and wounding over two dozen people, Syria’s state news agency reported.

Footage of the visit broadcast on state television showed Assad chatting casually with a group of employees, two days after his prime minister narrowly escaped assassination by an explosion and a day after another major bombing in the capital took the lives of at least 14.

SANA said a 10-year-old boy was killed and 28 people wounded, some seriously, in Wednesday’s attack, when bombs went off in Khaled Bin Walid street and the nearby Bab Mesalla square. It said the bombs were planted by "terrorists," a term the government uses to describe rebels fighting to topple the Syrian leader.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Bab Mesalla explosion was near a police station and came from rocket fire. It said the blast left casualties but did not have figures on dead or wounded. It also said that several people, including children, were wounded in the explosion in Khaled Bin Walid street.

Police had sealed off Bab Mesalla, which has restaurants, shops and a main public transportation station linking Damascus with the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, the Observatory added.

Coroner: 5-year-old shoots 2-year-old sister in Ky. with his gun; mother had just stepped away

BURKESVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death in rural southern Kentucky with a rifle he had received as a gift last year, authorities said.

The children’s mother was home at the time of the shooting Tuesday afternoon but had stepped out to the front porch for a few minutes and "she heard the gun go off," Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said. He said the rifle was kept in a corner and the family didn’t realize a bullet was left inside it.

White told the Lexington Herald-Leader the boy received the .22-caliber rifle as a gift.

"It’s a Crickett," White said, referring to a company that specifically makes guns, clothes and books for children. "It’s a little rifle for a kid. ... The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun."

The shooting, while accidental, highlights a cultural divide in the gun debate. While many suburban and urban areas work to keep guns out of the hands of children, it’s not uncommon for youths in rural areas to own guns for target practice and hunting.

Guantanamo Bay closure a tough sell to Congress, so Obama looks to possibly reduce population

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite President Barack Obama’s new vow, closing the Guantanamo Bay prison is still a tough sell in Congress. So the White House may look instead toward smaller steps like transferring some terror suspects back overseas.

Shutting down the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba is a goal that has eluded Obama since he took office. In his first week, he signed an executive order for its closure, but Congress has used its budgetary power to block detainees from being moved to the United States.

Now, with 100 of the 166 prisoners on a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention and prison conditions, Obama is promising a renewed push before Congress and has ordered a review of his administrative options. The White House is acknowledging its process to review prisoner cases for possible release has not been implemented quickly enough and says the president is considering reappointing a senior official at the State Department to focus on transfers out of the prison.

Guantanamo had slipped down the agenda of the president who promised to close it during his campaign five years ago but has transferred few prisoners out in recent years. Conditions at the camp are tense, with 23 prisoners who are in danger of starving themselves now being force-fed through nasal tubes and some 40 naval medical personnel arriving over the weekend to deal with the strike that shows no sign of ending. While the global community has pressured the United States to shut Guantanamo, most of the American public and their representatives in Congress have been opposed to removing the terror suspects from their isolated captivity.

"Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe," the president argued at a White House news conference Tuesday. "It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."

Scientists find evidence of cannibalism at Jamestown, America’s 1st permanent English colony

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists revealed Wednesday that they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists at Jamestown, Va., survived harsh conditions by turning to cannibalism.

For years, there have been tales of people in the first permanent English settlement in America eating dogs, cats, rats, mice, snakes and shoe leather to stave off starvation. There were also written accounts of settlers eating their own dead, but archaeologists had been skeptical of those stories.

But now, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and archaeologists from Jamestown are announcing the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl that show clear signs that she was cannibalized. Evidence indicates clumsy chops to the body and head of the girl, who appears to have already been dead at the time.

Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley said the human remains date back to a deadly winter known as the "starving time" in Jamestown from 1609 to 1610. Hundreds died during the period. Scientists have said the settlers likely arrived during the worst drought in 800 years, bringing severe food shortages for the 6,000 people who lived at Jamestown between 1607 and 1625.

The historical record is chilling. Early Jamestown colony leader George Percy wrote of a "world of miseries," that included digging up corpses from their graves to eat when there was nothing else. "Nothing was spared to maintain life," he wrote.

Bolivia’s President Morales expels USAID, accused it of working against him

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- President Evo Morales acted on a longtime threat Wednesday and expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development for allegedly seeking to undermine Bolivia’s leftist government, and he harangued Washington’s top diplomat for calling the Western Hemisphere his country’s "backyard."

Bolivia’s ABI state news agency said USAID was "accused of alleged political interference in peasant unions and other social organizations."

In the past, Morales has accused the agency of funding groups that opposed his policies, including a lowlands indigenous federation that organized protests against a Morales-backed highway through the TIPNIS rainforest preserve.

In 2008, Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly inciting the opposition. On Wednesday, he said Washington "still has a mentality of domination and submission" in the region.

While Morales did not provide evidence of USAID meddling, funds channeled through it have been used in Bolivia and its leftist ally Venezuela to support organizations deemed a threat by those governments.