Posted: Apr 16, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2012 4:01 AM
Norway killer Breivik defends massacre: 'I would have done it again'
OSLO, Norway (AP) Anders Behring Breivik on Tuesday defended his massacre of 77 people, insisting he would do it again and calling the bomb-and-shooting rampage the most "spectacular" attack by a nationalist militant since World War II.
Reading a prepared statement in court, the anti-Muslim extremist lashed out at Norwegian and European governments for embracing immigration and multiculturalism.
He claimed to be speaking as a commander of an "anti-communist" resistance movement and an anti-Islam militant group he called the Knights Templar. Prosecutors have said the group does not exist.
Maintaining he acted out of "goodness not evil" to prevent a wider civil war, Breivik vowed, "I would have done it again."
Breivik has five days to explain why he set off a bomb in Oslo's government district, killing eight, and then gunned down 69 at a Labor Party youth camp outside the Norwegian capital. He denies criminal guilt saying he was acting in self-defense.
House holding 2nd day of hearings on GSA spending on parties, mind-reader at Vegas conference
WASHINGTON (AP) As Congress investigates an $823,000 General Services Administration conference at a Las Vegas resort, a fired GSA executive who threw a party there on the taxpayers' dime has been sent a letter by his former agency demanding $1,960 reimbursement for the party in his room.
Robert Peck was set to testify in the second day of hearings before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the agency's misuse of taxpayers' money. Peck was commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at the GSA, which is in charge of federal buildings and supplies.
Another witness, current Deputy Commissioner Susan Brita, was instrumental in asking Inspector General Brian Miller to investigate the 2010 conference. His stinging report was made public April 2. Since then, the agency head resigned, two deputies, including Peck, were fired and 10 employees have been placed on administrative leave.
Brita had emailed Peck in July that the inspector general found no substantive agenda for the Las Vegas conference. She said expenses for a clown suit, bicycles used for a team-building exercise, tuxedos and a mind-reader didn't lend themselves to the claim of a substantive conference.
Brita also questioned why a regional administrator in charge of the conference, Jeffrey Neely, received only a disciplinary letter that "is not even a slap on the wrist."
Space shuttle Discovery poised for final takeoff, strapped to jumbo jet for trip to museum
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) It's departure day for space shuttle Discovery.
At daybreak Tuesday, NASA's oldest and most traveled shuttle will take off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center for Washington aboard a modified jumbo jet. It's set to become a museum piece at the Smithsonian Institution.
Weather permitting, the jet and shuttle will fly south down the Cape Canaveral beach for everyone to see, before turning north. A low flyover also is planned once they reach Washington.
Discovery is the first of the three retired space shuttles to head to a museum. It will go on display at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, taking the place of the shuttle prototype Enterprise. The Enterprise will shuffle off to New York City.
Endeavour will head to Los Angeles this fall. Atlantis will remain at Kennedy.
US, Haiti launch vaccination campaigns to curb or keep out infectious diseases
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Haiti, the United States and international partners are launching a nationwide vaccination campaign in the Caribbean country that seeks to curb or prevent infectious diseases, health officials said Monday.
On a two-day visit to Haiti, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the effort to vaccinate Haitians against such diseases as diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough is critical because the country is especially vulnerable to diseases brought from outside.
"We know the population in Haiti remains at risk for cases imported from other parts of the world because of low vaccine coverage rates here for both polio and measles rubella among infants," Sebelius told reporters following a tour of the Eliazar Germain hospital in Haiti's capital. "That's why an important part of the reconstruction efforts after the January 2010 earthquake response was rebuilding the childhood immunization infrastructure."
Immunization rates are low in Haiti. Coverage for measles and polios for 1-year olds, for example, is only a little more than half of the country's 10 million inhabitants, according to the World Health Organization.
And the ability for infectious diseases to spread quickly in Haiti is evident. A cholera epidemic has ravaged the country since it surfaced a few months after the 2010 earthquake and gone on to kill more than 7,000 people and sicken 530,000 more, according to Haitian health officials. Scientific studies say a unit of peacekeepers from Nepal inadvertently brought the disease from their homeland, where the disease is endemic.
AP wins Pulitzer for stories documenting police spying on Muslims; NY Times wins 2 prizes
NEW YORK (AP) The Pulitzer Prizes showcased journalism's power to shine a powerful light on the forgotten or the unknown, and the awards honored work including stories from The Associated Press revealing the New York Police Department's widespread spying on Muslims and The Huffington Post's pieces about the suffering endured by American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The AP won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism, while the national reporting prize went to the Huffington Post's David Wood. Other journalism winners in the awards announced Monday included another Pulitzer for investigative reporting awarded to The Seattle Times for a series about accidental methadone overdoses among patients with chronic pain.
In the arts categories, the late Manning Marable won the Pulitzer Prize for history, honored for a Malcolm X book he worked on for decades but did not live to see published. Quiara Alegria Hudes' play "Water by the Spoonful," which centers on an Iraq war veteran's search for meaning, won the Pulitzer for drama.
The New York Times won two prizes. David Kocieniewski was honored in the explanatory reporting category for a series on how wealthy people and corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes. Jeffrey Gettleman received the award for international reporting for his coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa.
The AP's series of stories available online at http://apne.ws/IrNyPk showed how New York police, with the help of a CIA official, created an aggressive surveillance program to gather intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods, businesses and houses of worship. It was the 50th Pulitzer won by the news organization.
Energy flat, attendance down as Mexico's female presidential candidate works on a comeback
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) On a campaign swing through the heart of her political stronghold, the first serious female contender for Mexico's presidency didn't fill a town square or the tables at a business luncheon.
After stumbling early in her campaign, Josefina Vazquez Mota is trying to mount a comeback but isn't drawing the crowds or the energy that marked her nomination in February as the first woman to lead a major party in presidential elections. Her rival, Enrique Pena Nieto, has built a double-digit lead in the polls ahead of the July 1 vote, more than 20-percentage points in some.
In a downtown plaza in the city of Leon over the weekend, the cameras could easily spot the empty spaces. Signs and shirts for gubernatorial candidate Miguel Marquez, who also appeared, outnumbered those for Vazquez Mota.
Her party, the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, has yet to recover from the divisive primary that Vazquez Mota won over the candidate of President Felipe Calderon and the party establishment.
Her initial events after the campaign officially started two weeks ago were marked by poor planning, small crowds, or disruptive hecklers.
American describes plotting with 2 friends to attack NYC subways at urging of al-Qaida
NEW YORK (AP) By one account, the moment of truth for three former high school classmates from Queens came as they sat in a car outside a neighborhood mosque with their militant religious views festering.
"Allah doesn't like only talk about something and not doing it," former New York City cab driver Zarein Ahmedzay recalled telling his friends.
Then and there, Ahmedzay, Najibullah Zazi and Adis Medunjanin "made a covenant to go to Afghanistan and fight with the mujahedeen against American forces," Ahmedzay said Monday at the Brooklyn trial of Medunjanin.
The decision set in motion what authorities have called one of the most frightening near-miss terror plots since the Sept. 11, 2001 attack a 2009 scheme by the three Muslim men to strap on suicide-bomb vests and detonate them inside Manhattan subways.
The men "were prepared to kill themselves and everyone else around them men, women and children," Assistant U.S. Attorney James Loonam said in opening statements. "These men came so close within days of carrying out this attack."
Syrian troops widen shelling attacks to second town as UN observers demand free access
BEIRUT (AP) The Syrian regime widened shelling attacks on opposition strongholds Tuesday, activists said, targeting a second town in a new sign that a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is quickly unraveling despite the presence of foreign observers.
The truce is part of an international plan to launch talks between President Bashar Assad's regime and those trying to topple him. An uprising against Assad erupted 13 months ago, but became increasingly violent in response to a regime crackdown.
Regime compliance with the cease-fire has been partial, and the latest escalation further lowered expectations that the key element of special envoy Kofi Annan's plan can stick. Mortar shells struck the central city of Homs at a pace of one a minute Tuesday morning, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group.
Annan, joint emissary for the U.N. and the Arab League, was to travel to Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday to brief the Arab League on the situation in Syria.
Diplomats and finance ministry officials from the Arab world, the West and elsewhere also were meeting Tuesday in Paris to coordinate sanctions against the Assad regime. Diplomats say a string of EU, U.S. and other sanctions have affected Assad by curbing Syria's ability to export oil and the ability of his cronies to do business abroad.
Ryan O'Neal says he has Stage 2 prostate cancer and doctors expect him to make a full recovery
LOS ANGELES (AP) Ryan O'Neal says the prognosis is positive for his recovery from recently diagnosed Stage 2 prostate cancer.
The 70-year-old actor said in a statement released through his publicist on Monday that he was "shocked and stunned by the news" but feels fortunate the disease was caught early. He said his doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
Higher stage numbers mean more extensive disease, with Stage 4 being the highest, according to the National Cancer Institute.
O'Neal said he is grateful for the support of his friends and family. He also advocates regular exams because early detection is the best defense against prostate cancer.
The actor's memoir about his romance with Farrah Fawcett, "Both of Us: My Life With Farrah," will be published on May 1.
Playoff-bound Clippers beat Thunder 92-77 for 4th straight victory
LOS ANGELES (AP) With some help, the Los Angeles Clippers had already clinched their first playoff berth in five years before they tipped off against Oklahoma City. Then they went out and earned it.
Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench, Blake Griffin added 17 and Randy Foye 13 to beat the Thunder 92-77 on Monday night.
"It is something that we're happy about, but by no means is that all we want," said Griffin, who like a lot of his teammates will be in the postseason for the first time. "That was one of our goals coming in, but it goes farther than that."
Houston lost to Denver by three points earlier Monday night, ensuring the Clippers would end the second-longest active postseason drought in the league.
"I'm happy we can get Blake on TV in May," DeAndre Jordan said.