International news briefs

Secretary of State Clinton urging India to find alternatives to Iranian oil

9/11 ‘mastermind’ silent, 4 other defendants disrupt military hearing on terror charges

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba  _ The second attempt to prosecute the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and four men accused of helping orchestrate the plot got off to a rough start, with the defendants disrupting their arraignment and forcing the proceedings to drag on late into the night.

The court hearing for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants should have taken a couple of hours at most. Instead it lasted almost 13 hours, including meal and prayer breaks, as the men appeared to make a concerted effort to stall Saturday’s hearing.

They knelt in prayer, ignored the judge, wouldn’t listen to Arabic translations over their head sets and one even insisted on having the more than 20 pages detailing the charges against them read aloud, rather than deferred for later in their case as the judge wanted, which added more than two hours to the proceedings.

“They’re engaging in jihad in a courtroom,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon. She watched the proceeding from Brooklyn.

Mohammed, the admitted 9/11 architect, and the four men accused of aiding the 9/11 conspiracy put off their pleas until a later date. They face 2,976 counts of murder and terrorism in the 2001 attacks that sent hijacked jetliners into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The charges carry the death penalty.

Anger, frustration as 9/11 victims’ families watch terror defendants try to undermine hearing

NEW YORK _ Lee Hanson became deeply angry as the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and co-defendants tried to undermine their arraignment on 3,000 counts of murder at a military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hanson’s son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter, the youngest 9/11 victim, were killed in the terror attacks over a decade ago. All were aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the twin towers.

“They praise Allah. I say, `Damn you!”’ said the silver-haired retiree from Eaton, Conn.

When it comes to justice, “it seems like it’s an afterthought,” said his wife, Eunice Hanson.

Moans, sighs and exclamations erupted Saturday as Hanson and other relatives of Sept. 11 victims watched the closed-circuit TV feed of the court hearing from a movie theater at Fort Hamilton in New York City. It was one of four U.S. military bases where the arraignment was broadcast live for victims’ family members, survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks.

 

French vote in decisive run-off election between Sarkozy and Hollande

PARIS  _ France voted in a presidential run-off election on Sunday that could see Socialist challenger Francois Hollande defeat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by capitalizing on public anger over the government’s austerity policies.

The election outcome will impact efforts to fight France’s debt crisis, how long the nation’s troops stay in Afghanistan and how France exercises its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.

Hollande voted in his electoral fief of Tulle, in central France. Live television coverage showed the 57-year-old politician shaking hands and chatting with voters on his way into the polling station.

“It’s going to be a long day,” Hollande told reporters gathered to watch him vote. “It’s up to the French people to decide if it’s going to be a good day,” he said.

Under Sarkozy, France pledged to rein in its spending while the rest of 17 countries that use the euro embark on a strict period of belt-tightening. In France, that has included programs designed to reduce government employment.

 

Greeks vote in most critical and uncertain election in decades

ATHENS, Greece  _ Greeks cast ballots on Sunday in their most critical _ and uncertain _ election in decades, with voters set to punish the two main parties that are being held responsible for the country’s dire economic straits.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Entirely dependent on billions of euros worth of international rescue loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, Greece must impose yet more austerity measures next month, if it is to keep the money flowing and prevent a default and a potentially disastrous exit from the euro.

Thirty-two parties are vying for the support of nearly 10 million registered voters, many of whom, according to recent polls, were undecided on the eve of the election.

Abstention, once projected to reach historic highs but seen rising in recent opinion surveys, will be crucial to the final outcome. In the last national election, in October 2009, just over 70 percent of the registered voters went to the polls.

 

Secretary of State Clinton urging India to find alternatives to Iranian oil

KOLKATA, India _ Urging India to reduce the oil it imports from Iran tops U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s agenda as she starts two days of talks with Indian officials.

India has huge energy needs to fuel its rapid growth but has made some progress in easing its dependence on Iranian oil. A senior official traveling with Clinton in Asia said the United States wants to see more.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview Clinton’s private discussions in Kolkata and New Delhi, said the “trend lines are good” but “we really need to receive assurances that they are going to continue to make good progress.”

Clinton arrived in Kolkata on Sunday after visits to China and Bangladesh.

The official said India had recently stepped up imports of oil from Saudi Arabia to make up for the reduction in Iranian oil and that the U.S. was eager to see the Indians explore other alternatives.

 

Chinese activist crisis allows US Ambassador Locke to display commitment to human rights

BEIJING  _ U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke’s key role in a recent crisis over a blind legal activist has put him on the front lines of U.S. concerns about China’s embattled dissident community.

Activist Chen Guangcheng’s sudden escape from house arrest and a U.S. decision to give him sanctuary in the U.S. Embassy gave Locke his first crisis as ambassador, made him a target of criticism from Beijing and earned him respect from the human rights lobby.

As a former U.S. commerce secretary and governor of Washington state, Locke hadn’t originally been seen as a strong advocate of human rights.

Chen’s fate remains unresolved. Still-evolving arrangements between Washington and Beijing may result in Chen and his family leaving China for the United States.

 

Doolittle’s Raiders recall daring World War II bombing of Japan, mission leader

ALAMEDA, Calif.  _ Three of Doolittle’s Raiders who helped boost American morale during the early days of World War II recalled the dangers of their bold bombing attack on Japan mainland.

Airman Edward Saylor didn’t expect to come back alive when his B-25 set off on the 1942 mission.

“Some of the group thought they’d make it,” Saylor said Saturday. “But the odds were so bad.”

Saylor and the other 79 Doolittle’s Raiders were forced to take off in rainy, windy conditions significantly further from Japan than planned, straining their fuel capacity. None of the 16 planes’ pilots had ever taken off from an aircraft carrier before.

Saylor and two other raiders, Maj. Thomas Griffin and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher _ all in their 90s now _ recalled their daring mission and its leader, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, at a commemoration Saturday aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco.

FBI: 2 bodies found in Miss. amid search for mother, 3 missing daughters; identities not known

JACKSON, Miss. _ Two unidentified bodies have been found at a Mississippi residence associated with a man suspected of abducting a Tennessee woman and her three young daughters, who are believed to be in “extreme danger,” authorities said Saturday.

FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said the bodies were found late Friday night or early Saturday morning in a residence associated with Adam Mayes, 35.

Mayes is charged in Tennessee with abducting Jo Ann Bain and her daughters. He has been described by authorities as “armed and extremely dangerous.”

Siskovic said authorities on the scene were not able to positively identify the bodies. He would not say if the bodies were children.

The missing girls are 8-year-old Kyliyah Bain, 12-year-old Alexandria and 14-year-old Adrienne. They were last seen April 27 in Hardeman County, Tenn., which is about 70 miles east of Memphis. The woman’s husband reported her missing and her vehicle was found abandoned.

Mayweather remains unbeaten, beats Cotto in unanimous decision to win 154-pound title

LAS VEGAS  _ Floyd Mayweather Jr. finally found himself in a real fight, complete with a bloody nose and an opponent in Miguel Cotto who was never going to quit.

As usual, he found a way to win.

Mayweather used his speed and accuracy Saturday night to take a unanimous decision over a game Cotto in a bruising bout to win a piece of the 154-pound title. But it wasn’t easy, as Cotto landed some hard punches and kept attacking all the way to the final bell.

“You’re a hell of a champion,” Mayweather told Cotto in the ring afterward. “You’re the toughest guy I ever fought.”

Mayweather dominated late, rocking Cotto in the 12th round to pull out a win and remain unbeaten in 43 fights. Unlike most of his fights, though, Mayweather got his nose bloodied and engaged in some bruising exchanges he usually likes to avoid.

15-1 shot I’ll Have Another rallies late, overtakes Bodemeister to win 138th Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  _ I’ll Have Another looked like just another horse at the Kentucky Derby.

Until the final furlong, that is.

That’s when the chestnut colt _ sold for a paltry $11,000, ridden by a rookie jockey hardly anyone knew and stuck in an outside post _ blazed past highly regarded Bodemeister to win by 1 1-2 lengths on Saturday, beating one of the deepest fields in years.

I’ll Have Another stormed out of post No. 19 _ the first winner from there in 138 runnings of the Derby _ and bided his time back in mid-pack while Bodemeister set a blistering pace on a muggy, 85-degree afternoon at Churchill Downs.

“He’s an amazing horse. I kept telling everybody, from the first time I met him, I knew he was the one. I knew he was good,” jockey Mario Gutierrez said. “I said in an interview, even if they allowed me to pick from the whole rest of the field, I would have stayed with him, 100 percent, no doubt about it.”

 

Associated Press News Briefs

 

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