Militants seize hostages in Algeria
As Algerian army helicopters clattered overheard deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural-gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.
The Algerian army has surrounded the complex, and about 1,000 miles from the coast, there is no obvious way for the kidnappers to escape in their four-wheel-drive vehicles with their hostages.
A militant group claimed responsibility for the rare attack on one of oil-rich Algeria’s energy facilities, saying it came in revenge for the North African nation’s support for France’s military operation against al-Qaida-linked rebels in neighboring Mali. The militants said they were holding 41 foreigners from the energy complex, including seven Americans.
Clinton scheduled to testify on attack
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify before a Senate panel Wednesday on the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the committee will have a confirmation hearing on her successor the next day.
Senate aides said the Foreign Relations Committee notified senators Wednesday night that Clinton would testify next Wednesday. The panel will have a hearing on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry to be the next secretary of state next Thursday.
Interior secretary to leave in March
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill and promoted alternative energy sources throughout the nation, will step down in March.
A former U.S. senator from Colorado, Salazar ran the Interior Department throughout President Barack Obama’s first term and pushed renewable power such as solar and wind and the settlement of a long-standing dispute with American Indians.
Marine pleads guilty to desecrating corpse
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.
A Marine who pleaded guilty Wednesday to urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan likely will be demoted one rank under a plea agreement, although a military judge called for a much harsher sentence.
Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola pleaded guilty to multiple charges at court-martial, including that of violating orders by desecrating remains and posing for photographs with the corpses; and dereliction of duty by failing to properly supervise junior Marines.
Poll: Abortion no longer a key issue
Abortion rights, once a key political wedge issue dividing society, are now so accepted that only 1 in 5 people call it critical, and a majority of those younger than 30 don’t know that Roe v. Wade was the Supreme Court case that helped make abortion legal.
The nation next week will mark the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision handed down Jan. 22, 1973. In its ruling on Roe and a related case, the Supreme Court held that women had a fundamental constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in the early months, in effect decriminalizing abortions.
The nation, through legislatures and courts, has been fighting over the terms and conditions ever since, with conservatives seeking to limit the right and liberals defending it.