Posted: Apr 28, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Apr 29, 2012 4:01 AM
Weaker al-Qaida still dreams of payback a year after US military raid killed Osama bin Laden
WASHINGTON (AP) A year after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida is hobbled and hunted, too busy surviving for the moment to carry out another Sept. 11-style attack on U.S. soil.
But the terrorist network dreams still of payback, and U.S. counterterrorist officials warn that, in time, its offshoots may deliver.
A decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that has cost the U.S. about $1.28 trillion and 6,300 U.S. troops* lives has forced al-Qaida's affiliates to regroup, from Yemen to Iraq. Bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, is thought to be hiding, out of U.S. reach, in Pakistan's mountains, just as bin Laden was for so many years.
"It's wishful thinking to say al-Qaida is on the brink of defeat," says Seth Jones, a Rand analyst and adviser to U.S. special operations forces. "They have increased global presence, the number of attacks by affiliates has risen, and in some places like Yemen, they've expanded control of territory."
It's a complicated, somewhat murky picture for Americans to grasp.
Obama pokes fun at campaigns past and present, Secret Service, Donald Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) This year's primaries, the 2008 primaries, the General Services Administration scandal, even the Secret Service and Donald Trump were targets for President Barack Obama's scattershot humor at Saturday night's celebrity studded White House Correspondents Dinner.
Even the entrance to his speech was part of his schtick. The president walked off stage just before he took the podium with an alleged "hot mic," making fun of getting caught last month on an open microphone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
"What am I doing here," he asks off stage. "I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel and telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian."
Once on stage, the president revisited last year's dinner, which took place as Navy SEALS were dispatched to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.
"Last year at this time, this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world's most notorious individuals," Obama said. Then a picture of real estate mogul Donald Trump appeared on the room's television monitors. The president last year delivered a scathing roast of Trump, who flirted with running for the Republican nomination and claimed he had solved the "mystery" of Obama's birth certificate.
Sailing group: Collision suspected in yacht tragedy that killed 3, left 1 missing
LOS ANGELES (AP) A yacht racing off the coasts of California and Mexico apparently collided at night with a much larger vessel, leaving three crew members dead and one missing, a sailing organization said early Sunday. It was the state's second ocean racing tragedy this month.
The Newport Ocean Sailing Association organizer of the 125-mile Newport, Calif. to Ensenada, Mexico yacht race said the apparent collision involving the 37-foot Aegean occurred late Friday or early Saturday several miles off the coast near the ocean border of the two countries.
"It appeared the damage was not inflicted by an explosion but by a collision with a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel," association spokesman Rich Roberts said in a news release early Sunday.
Race officials believe there are few other possibilities for what caused the accident, Roberts later told The Associated Press, speaking by phone from Ensenada, Mexico.
He said details were still scarce but it was possible that if the smaller boat was bobbing around in light wind, the crew might not have been able to get out of the way of a larger ship, perhaps a freighter.
US diplomat arrives in Beijing as activist's flight and Taiwan arms sales threaten China ties
BEIJING (AP) A senior U.S. diplomat arrived in China on a hurried mission Sunday as new problems from possible U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to the custody of a blind dissident threaten to complicate relations with Beijing ahead of high-level talks.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell avoided reporters, and the U.S. Embassy declined to discuss his agenda. His trip, originally scheduled for later this coming week, comes after the White House said it is considering selling new warplanes to Taiwan and after dissident legal activist Chen Guangcheng fled house arrest and ended up, rights campaigners said, in the protection of American officials.
Both Chen's case, if he's in U.S. custody, and that of Taiwan touch on Beijing red lines against what it sees as meddling in China's domestic affairs. Beijing will have ample opportunity to voice its displeasure at an annual confab on Thursday and Friday attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and dozens of other officials.
The meeting, known as the strategic and economic dialogue, is supposed to provide ballast for the often-bumpy relations by giving top-level officials a chance to discuss problems and look for solutions. This year, while frictions over China's trade surplus and currency policies persist, Washington is seeking Beijing's help on global and regional trouble spots, from the conflict in Syria to Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs.
Chen's case is likely to complicate things further. A campaigner against forced abortions and sterilizations, Chen spent four years in prison and then was kept in punitive house arrest for the past 20 months, despite the lack of legal grounds for doing so. Clinton and other U.S. officials have repeatedly raised his case, though Beijing did nothing to abate the confinement, occasional beatings and other harsh treatment.
UN observers seeking to shore up shaky Syria cease-fire visit embattled neighborhood in Homs
BEIRUT (AP) U.N. observers struggling to shore up a shaky cease-fire in Syria visited an embattled neighborhood in the central city of Homs Sunday, the Syrian state news agency said.
SANA said the observers toured the Khaldiyeh district, which has seen heavy government shelling and clashes between Syrian forces and rebels.
The team in Homs is part of an advance team of 15 U.N. monitors in Syria who are trying to salvage a peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan that aims to end the country's 13-month-old crisis. Under the plan, a cease-fire is supposed to lead to talks between President Bashar Assad and the opposition on a political solution to the conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people.
But the plan has been deeply troubled since the truce began on April 12. The regime has kept up its attacks on opposition strongholds, while rebel fighters continue to ambush security forces. Defying a major truce provision, the Syrian military has failed to withdraw tanks and soldiers from the streets.
Most analysts say the plan has little chance of succeeding, though it could temporarily bring down the level of daily violence.
1 dead, 17 hospitalized after strong winds, lightning strike beer tent in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS (AP) High winds swept through a beer tent where 200 people gathered after a Cardinals game Saturday, killing one and seriously injuring five others. But the owner of the St. Louis bar that hosted the crowd said it was lightning not wind that killed the patron.
Seventeen were hospitalized and up to 100 people were treated at the scene after straight-line winds whipped through a large tent outside Kilroy's Sports Bar, near Busch Stadium. The crowd was celebrating after the Cardinals had beaten Milwaukee 7-3, a game that ended about 80 minutes earlier.
Eddie Roth, director of the St. Louis Department of Public Safety, said winds of about 50 mph shattered aluminum poles that held up the tent, located south of the stadium. The force of the wind Saturday afternoon blew the tent onto an adjacent railroad bridge.
Both Roth and Deputy Fire Chief John Altmann said they could not confirm a cause of death for the man killed. Roth said the man appeared to be in his 50s. His name was not immediately released.
"It was crazy, scary," said Annie Randall, whose family owns Kilroy's. "We're just so sorry this happened."
Protester killed in Egypt in clashes between military rule opponents, unidentified assailants
CAIRO (AP) Assailants attacked demonstrators gathered outside the Defense Ministry in Egypt's capital to call for an end to military rule with rocks and firebombs, killing one protester and wounding 30, security officials said on Sunday.
They said the clashes broke out late Saturday when the unidentified assailants set upon the protesters, also hurling fireworks and empty glass bottles. Neither army troops or police attempted to stop the three-hour street battle, witnesses said. They also reported hearing gunshots.
The officials said the dead protester was a supporter of ultraconservative politician Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. Many of those outside the ministry were Abu Ismail supporters angered by his disqualification from running in next month's presidential election. He was thrown out of the race because officials ruled his late mother had dual Egyptian-U.S. citizenship in violation of eligibility rules.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Demonstrations in Egypt have frequently been attacked by unidentified assailants, particularly protests which are near or outside the Defense Ministry.
Rally by 50,000 people for electoral reforms raises questions on timing of Malaysian poll
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) A massive street rally demanding electoral reforms in Malaysia raised questions Sunday about whether the long-ruling coalition government will delay calling elections in the face of such a strong show of force by the opposition.
Police used tear gas and chemical-laced water Saturday against some 50,000 people and arrested more than 450 at the demonstration. Officials said three demonstrators and 20 police were injured, and all those arrested were released by Sunday.
The rally was held to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition which has been in power for 55 years to overhaul what the opposition and civil groups call biased electoral policies before the next polls are held.
Elections do not need to be held until mid-2013, but speculation had previously been rife that Najib may dissolve Parliament next month and seek a new mandate in June.
However, the protests the second mass rally in 10 months could rattle Najib's confidence and prompt him to delay calling polls, especially since the last election delivered the biggest opposition gains in Parliament ever.
Kevin Durant's winner lifts Thunder past Mavericks, 99-98 in Game 1
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant was determined to not let the Oklahoma City Thunder lose another playoff game at home to Dallas.
He scored 25 points and hit the winning jumper from the foul line with 1.5 seconds left to give the Thunder a 99-98 victory over the Mavericks on Saturday night in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals.
The Thunder trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before rallying to take the first step toward avenging a 4-1 series loss a year ago.
"It's the playoffs," Durant said. "No matter how it gets done, you've got to do it."
With his team trailing by one late in the fourth quarter, he forced his way toward the lane and found himself with defenders closing in and the clock winding down.
Kyle Busch wins race off pit road to wrap up 4th consecutive win at Richmond in spring
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Carl Edwards thought the race was his to win. So did Tony Stewart.
And Kyle Busch? Well, he didn't think he had a chance as the laps wound down at Richmond International Raceway.
But a penalty on Edwards took him out of contention Saturday night, and a late caution flag for debris gobbled up Stewart's lead and gave Busch one last chance at another Richmond win.
Busch pounced on the opportunity, got a strong final pit stop from his Joe Gibbs Racing crew to beat Stewart back onto the track, and sailed away for his first win of the season.
"No catching Stewart without that caution," Busch said.