• June 18,2014
     

    WASHINGTON

    U.S. nabs Libyan militant

    U.S. special forces seized a “key leader” in the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attack and he is on his way to face trial in the U.S. for the fiery assault that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, the Obama administration announced Tuesday. It was the first breakthrough in the sudden overseas violence in 2012 that has become a long-festering political sore at home.

    President Barack Obama said the capture on Sunday of Ahmed Abu Khattala sends a clear message to the world that “when Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice.”

    “We will find you,” Obama declared.

    As recently as last August, though, Abu Khattala told The Associated Press that he was not in hiding nor had he been questioned by Libyan authorities about the attack at the diplomatic compound. He denied involvement and said that he had abandoned the militia. Administration officials said Tuesday that despite his media interviews, he “evaded capture” until the weekend when military special forces nabbed him.

    Whatever the path to his capture, he was headed for the United States to face what Obama called “the full weight of the American justice system.” Obama called the Libyan an “alleged key leader” of the attacks, and said he was being transported to the U.S., without saying exactly how or where.



    BAGHDAD

    Signs of sectarian bloodshed

    Nearly four dozen Sunni detainees were gunned down at a jail north of Baghdad, a car bomb struck a Shiite neighborhood of the capital and four young Sunnis were found slain — ominous signs that open warfare between the two main Muslim sects has returned to Iraq.

    The killings late Monday and Tuesday following the capture by Sunni insurgents of a large swath of the country stretching to Syria were the first hints of the beginnings of a return to sectarian bloodletting that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007.

    During the United States’ eight-year presence in Iraq, American forces acted as a buffer between the two Islamic sects, though with limited success. The U.S. military withdrew at the end of 2011, but it is now being pulled back in — so far committing just under 300 troops, with a limited mission of securing U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating the Islamic militants.

    In the latest sect-on-sect violence, at least 44 Sunni detainees were slaughtered by gun shots to the head and chest by pro-government Shiite militiamen after Sunni insurgents tried to storm the jail near Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, police said.

    The Iraqi military gave a different account and put the death toll at 52, insisting the Sunni inmates were killed by mortar shells in the attack late Monday on the facility.



    PILGER, Neb.

    Rare dual tornadoes slam town

    As two giant tornadoes bore down on this tiny farming town in northeast Nebraska, Trey Wisniewski heard the storm sirens, glanced out at the blackening sky and rushed with his wife into their basement.

    “My wife was holding our animals, and I was holding on to my wife. We could feel the suction try to pull us out of there,” he said Tuesday.

    Suddenly, their house was gone, leaving them to dodge debris that rained down upon them. And then, the storm that hit so suddenly Monday afternoon was gone, allowing them to emerge and see what was left of the 350-person farming town of Pilger.

    They found that much of the community was gone and two people had died. The disaster, delivered by twin twisters rare in how forcefully they travelled side by side for an extended period, left some townsfolk doubting whether the town could rebuild, even as they marveled that the death toll hadn’t been worse.

    “This is by far the worst thing I’ve ever seen as governor,” said Gov. Dave Heineman, who flew over Pilger in a helicopter Tuesday morning and then walked through the town, trailed by reporters.



    WASHINGTON

    Hepatitis drug sparks debate

    Your money or your life?

    Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000.

    Leading medical societies recommend the drug as a first-line treatment, and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price. In Oregon, officials propose to limit how many low-income patients can get Sovaldi.

    Yet if Sovaldi didn’t exist, insurers would still be paying in the mid-to-high five figures to treat the most common kind of hepatitis C, a new pricing survey indicates. Some of the older alternatives involve more side effects, and are less likely to provide cures.

    So what’s a fair price?



    WASHINGTON

    Fishing banned in remote Pacific

    Vowing to protect fragile marine life, President Barack Obama acted Tuesday to create the world’s largest ocean preserve by expanding a national monument his predecessor established in waters thousands of miles from the American mainland.

    The designation for a remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean marks a major symbolic victory for environmentalists, who have urged the president to take action on his own to protect the planet as Congress turns its focus elsewhere. But the initiative will have limited practical implications because little fishing or drilling are taking place even without the new protections.

    Protecting the world’s oceans and the vibrant ecosystems that thrive deep under the surface is a task that’s bigger than any one country but the U.S. must take the lead, Obama said, announcing the initiative during an ocean conservation conference.

    “Let’s make sure that years from now we can look our children in the eye and tell them that, yes, we did our part, we took action, and we led the way toward a safer, more stable world,” Obama said in a video message.

    Obama hasn’t settled on the final boundaries for the expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and will solicit input from fishermen, scientists and conservation experts. Obama’s senior counselor, John Podesta, said that process would start immediately and wrap up “in the very near future.”

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