Nation in brief: New York lobbies to move terror trial
NEW YORK – Opposition to the government’s plans to hold the Sept. 11 terrorist trial in New York City intensified Thursday, one day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed he had changed his mind and now hoped the trial would be held elsewhere.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts. Hours later, New York Gov. David Paterson said he wants discussion with federal officials on the issue of venue.
Last month, the Obama administration announced that professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others would be tried in federal court in lower Manhattan.
The New York congressman called it “one of the worst decisions ever made by any president,” and said terrorist suspects should be tried by military commissions.
Bloomberg said he called Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to lobby for moving the trial outside lower Manhattan.
Group plans to sue EPA over pesticides
FRESNO, Calif. – A conservation group says it plans to sue the federal government, claiming hundreds of protected animal species have been impacted because it has not evaluated or regulated nearly 400 pesticides.
The Center for Biological Diversity sent the Environmental Protection Agency a letter of intent to sue on Thursday. It says the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by not consulting with wildlife regulators about the pesticides’ impacts.
The organization says as many as 887 species may be harmed, including the Florida panther, coho salmon and California condor.
Pentagon: Way forward on gay ban in works
WASHINGTON – The Defense Department next week will propose for the first time a “way forward” on lifting the military’s ban on gays from serving openly, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday.
President Barack Obama has vowed to work with Congress to repeal the 1993 law, but Democrats have been waiting to hear from the military on how it could be done.
In special testimony next Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen were expected to outline steps the military will take to lessen the impact on a force fighting two wars.
“The secretary and the chairman have and will continue to work on an implementation plan, and we’ll be able to share (details) with you early next week,” Morrell said.
Army National Guard nominee withdraws
LATHAM, N.Y. – Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, New York’s top soldier and President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Army National Guard, is retiring and withdrawing from consideration for the appointment.
Congressional approval of the appointment was delayed when the widow of slain Army Capt. Phillip Esposito blamed Taluto for not doing more to prevent Esposito and another soldier from being killed in Iraq in 2005. Taluto said in a prepared statement Thursday that he was withdrawing because the prolonged confirmation process had become a distraction.
The 61-year-old Taluto was appointed adjutant general of the New York National Guard in 2006 after serving as the commander of a combat division in Iraq.
Nearly $1 million in jewels taken in heist
NEW YORK – Police say an armed robber who fatally shot a Madison Avenue jewelry store worker made off with nearly $1 million worth of sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and other jewels.
The suspect fired once and killed 71-year-old Henry Menahem on Wednesday at R.S. Durant. The gunman remains on the loose.