The British government is trying to force a case examining its role in the rendering of an opponent of Muammar Gaddafi back to Libya in 2004 to be heard in a secret court, or not at all.In the first preliminary hearing over the claim brought by Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a prominent rebel fighter-turned-politician, the government's lawyers held on Tuesday that the case should either not go to trial in the UK, or that UK officials were "immune" from prosecution.Jack Straw, former British foreign secretary, and Sir Mark Allen, a former senior MI6 officer, also stand accused by Belhadj for their role in the rendition."Obviously it's very embarrassing for [the British officials], that they've been involved in torture and secret courts," Donald Campbell, a spokesperson for the London-based human rights NGO Reprieve, told Al Jazeera. read more
Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke, said in prepared remarks to Congress that a premature tightening of monetary policy "would carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery." At its most recent meeting this month, the Fed said it was "prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its asset purchases," prompting some analysts to speculate that bond purchases might be reduced in the coming months. "In considering whether a re-calibration of the pace of its purchases is warranted," Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee, the Fed "will continue to assess the degree of progress made toward its objectives in light of incoming information."
A water tower atop a neglected building in New York's Chelsea district hosted an illegal nightclub for adventurous guests from March to May. The staff communicated using headsets, checking that the operation remained unnoticed outside. In the event that the police did arrive, several exit routes were planned. The only way to get in was to be handed a pocket watch by a prior guest, report to a street corner at a certain time and call a number inside the watch. "The great thing about the upright bass is how it got up here," said Dirby Luongo, the doorman. "It's like a ship in a bottle."
After his car was pulled over early Wednesday morning for driving without headlights, a Longmont, Colo., man allegedly got out and fired an AR-15 at a Longmont police officer. The officer returned fire and shot 28-year-old Jonathan Shank at least three times and he has been hospitalized in critical condition. Shank, who has two driving offenses on his record but no felonies, used a Bushmaster AR-15 with optics, police said. They discovered multiple guns and boxes of ammunition in a search of his home. read more
One day before President Barack Obama delivers a major speech on national security, his administration on Wednesday formally acknowledged that the United States had killed four American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. A U.S. strike deliberately targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric, in September 2011 in Yemen. Three other Americans died in strikes where they were not the target: Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike as al-Awlaki; Awlaki's son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was also killed in Yemen; and Jude Mohammed, who died in a strike in Pakistan. "These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote in a letter to leaders in Congress.
The first "hard evidence" that other universes exist has been found by scientists, the Daily Mail reports. Cosmologists studying a map of the universe from data gathered by the Planck spacecraft have concluded that it shows anomalies that can only have been caused by the gravitational pull of other universes. The map shows radiation from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago that is still detectable in the universe -- known as cosmic microwave radiation. "These anomalies were caused by other universes pulling on our universe as it formed during the Big Bang," said theoretical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. "They are the first hard evidence for the existence of other universes that we have seen." read more
A man has been killed in a machete attack and two suspects shot by police in London. Prime Minister David Cameron said there were "strong indications that it is a terrorist incident" and the UK would "never buckle" in the face of such attacks. After police arrived they shot two suspects in the attack and they're being treated at a hospital for their injuries. Video on the ITV website shows a man wielding a bloodied meat cleaver, speaking to the camera and saying, "We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth I apologize that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don't care about you." read more
A man being questioned in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings was shot and killed in Orlando, Fl., Tuesday by an FBI agent. "There was some sort of aggressive movement that led the FBI agent to believe he was under threat and he opened fire," a law enforcement official told ABC News. Ibragim Todashev, 27, knew bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev because both were mixed-martial arts fighters, said Khusen Taramov, who was being questioned by the FBI at the same time as Todashev. Taramov said he and Todashev were questioned for three hours when "something went wrong." read more
Anthony Weiner kicked off his New York City mayoral campaign Tuesday with a video announcement posted to YouTube. The video opens with a shot of Weiner, wife Huma Abedin and their son having breakfast. "We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony," Abedin says in the video. A recent NBC New York/Marist poll showed Weiner in second behind Christine Quinn in the field of prospective 2013 Democratic mayoral candidates. read more
After Pope Francis put his hands on a wheelchair-bound young man's head during Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, some Catholic observers are suggesting that the pontiff performed an exorcism and freed the man from a devil. The Rev. Giulio Maspero, a Rome-based theologian who has witnessed or participated in more than a dozen exorcisms, said the position of the pope's hands was the one employed by exorcists. "When you witness something like that -- for me it was shocking -- I could feel the power of prayer," Maspero said. read more
New York Times: "The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories," said Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England. Psychologists say that's because a conspiracy theory isn't so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview. Americans have always had the sneaking suspicion that somebody was out to get us -- be it Freemasons, Catholics or communists. But in recent years, it seems as if every tragedy comes with a round of yarn-spinning, as the Web fills with stories about "false flag" attacks and "crisis actors" -- not mere theorizing but arguments for the existence of a completely alternate version of reality. read more
A top IRS official scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Oversight committee has notified Congress that she will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions. Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit which handled tax-exempt organizations, won't answer questions about what she knows about the improper screening of conservative groups or about why she repeatedly failed to tell Congress that such targeting was going on, according to a letter from her lawyer, William W. Taylor III. "She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation, but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course," Taylor wrote. read more
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. government had properly classified top secret more than 50 images of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden taken after his death, and that the government did not need to release them. The unanimous ruling by three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a request for the images by a conservative nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch. The appeals court accepted an assertion from the Obama administration that the images are so potent that releasing them could cause riots that would put Americans abroad at risk. "It is undisputed that the government is withholding the images not to shield wrongdoing or avoid embarrassment, but rather to prevent the killing of Americans and violence against American interests," the opinion said.
William P. Barr, Jamie S. Gorelick and Kenneth L. Wainstein: As former Justice Department officials who served in the three administrations preceding President Obama's, we are worried that the criticism of the decision to subpoena telephone toll records of A.P. journalists in an important leak investigation sends the wrong message to the government officials who are responsible for our national security. While neither we nor the critics know the circumstances behind the prosecutors' decision to issue this subpoena, we do know from the government's public disclosures that the prosecutors were right to investigate this leak vigorously. The leak -- which resulted in a May 2012 article by the A.P. about the disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner -- significantly damaged our national security. read more
Former First Daughter Caroline Kennedy and her fellow jurors took just over an hour to acquit a Harlem man of charges that he sold four "nickel bag" crack rocks at $5 each to an undercover officer near New York City's Harlem River Park. Nelson Chatman, 31, avoided a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six years on the single charge against him, felony criminal sale of a controlled substance. Cops never saw Chatman hand drugs to an alleged steerer, and he had no drugs or pre-recorded buy money on him when he was apprehended after a lengthy chase, his lawyer argued.