Bin Laden's ex-secretary is resentenced

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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NEW YORK -- Osama bin Laden's former secretary was resentenced to life in prison for conspiring with the terrorist leader to kill Americans, after telling a U.S. judge Tuesday that 9-11 and Superstorm Sandy in October were God's punishment for his unjust conviction.

Wadih el-Hage, a naturalized US citizen who once lived in Arlington, was one of four men convicted in a New York trial of conspiring with bin Laden in a worldwide plot to kill U.S. nationals. Four months after his conviction in May 2001, terrorists flew hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center. A federal appeals court upheld his conviction and sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration of his life term.

"I was unfairly and unjustly convicted and God most exalted, punishes swiftly and severely for unjustices," el-Hage told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan. "Then came down God's swift and severe punishment on this district, on this town and the whole city came down on its knees and the whole nation followed."

-- Bloomberg News

Local symphony gains

$20,000 NEA grant

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Endowment for the Arts announced Tuesday that it was awarding $26.3 million in grants, including a stipend for a Fort Worth Symphony program, continuing federal support for the arts despite the automatic 5 percent federal budget cuts that are in force.

The agency redirected some unused money from the last grant cycle so that the decrease in federal grants given directly to arts agencies was 3.2 percent instead of 5 percent. NEA grants require a one-to-one match from a nonfederal funding source.

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association won $20,000 for a touring program in towns within 150 miles of the city, including Glen Rose, Graham, Killeen, Stephenville and Waxahachie.

-- Star-Telegram Washington Bureau

Transparency on

drone strikes urged

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A top Democratic lawmaker and a former deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Tuesday on the Obama administration to make public more information about its top-secret targeted killing program amid questions about the legality and effectiveness of hundreds of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.

"More transparency is needed to maintain the support of the American people and the international community" for drone strikes, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a key Obama ally and the chairman of the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The White House refused to send a witness to the Senate's first open hearing on the issue despite President Barack Obama's vow to be more forthcoming about a counterterrorism weapon that has become a despised symbol of U.S. foreign policy in many parts of the world.

The hearing came nearly 12 years after the United States carried out its first drone strike, underscoring what some have criticized as insufficient oversight by Congress.

-- Star-Telegram Washington Bureau

GOP plan would divert

healthcare money

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After years of trying to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare law, Republicans are now offering to bail out a strapped program that's part of it.

And it's an important one: a temporary lifeline for uninsured people with medical problems.

Has a healthcare truce has finally broken out? Hardly.

The GOP plan, headed for a House vote today, would divert billions from another program in the law, a transfer Democrats say would undermine broader goals.

-- The Associated Press

Sen. Baucus, D-Mont.,

announces retirement

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana announced plans Tuesday to retire at the end of his term after a career of enormous power and notable independence, producing both collaboration and conflict with fellow Democrats.

He became the eighth senator to announce retirement plans for 2014, and the sixth Democrat. Republicans must gain six seats to win a majority.

-- The Associated Press

Gay marriage legalized;

turmoil rages in France

FRANCE -- France legalized gay marriage Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that exposed deep conservatism in the heartland and triggered huge demonstrations that tapped into intense discontent with the Socialist government. Within hours, fiery clashes broke out between protesters and riot police.

Legions of officers stayed late into the night, and a protest against the measure turned violent near the Invalides complex of museums and monuments in Paris.

France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage nationwide --and the most populous.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225.

-- The Associated Press

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