February 10, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: Security risk high, officials warn

From Wire Reports

Washington – Senior Homeland Security officials warned Wednesday that the threat to the United States is the highest it has been since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, citing the emergence of more foreign terrorist groups, a sharp increase in extremists in this country and the “lone wolf” operator who authorities worry is out there but they may not be able to stop.

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “In some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks.”

Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said his concerns include someone operating unbeknownst to authorities and with the means and determination of a Faisal Shahzad, who last summer parked a car bomb in New York’s Times Square. The bomb failed to detonate, and Shahzad was captured just as he was boarding a flight out of the United States.

Napolitano and Leiter testified before the House Homeland Security Committee in its first hearing since Republicans took control last month.

After crash, girl, 4, goes for help

Granville, Iowa – A 4-year-old northwest Iowa girl who climbed her way out of an overturned pickup truck and trudged a quarter-mile across a field covered in a foot of snow said she just “wanted to help” her mother and younger brother.

Averie Carrion went in search of help after her mom, 25-year-old Jamie Carrion, hit a slick spot on Iowa Highway 10 while heading home to Granville.

“We hit the ditch and we rolled about two or three times,” Carrion said. The truck ended up lying on its passenger side. Carrion said she was stuck in the truck and could see her son, but not Averie, when she called 911.

“I thought she was unconscious, and I thought she was pinned under the vehicle, and I started to panic,” Carrion said.

But Averie had managed to get out of the truck and head across a field to a farmhouse.

“This little girl, thinking they were in big trouble, was able to climb out of the vehicle, and then her instincts must have kicked in,” Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena said.

Governor scraps building sale plan

Sacramento, Calif. – California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday he is dropping a plan hatched by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sell 24 state government buildings to private investors because the high cost of rent did not make sense for taxpayers.

The state had been in negotiations to sell the properties for $2.3 billion and use the proceeds after paying off construction bonds to help close the state’s general fund budget deficit. Under a deal approved by lawmakers, the state would have continued using the space by entering into a 20-year lease with the new owners.

The Associated Press reported in April that the deal would end up costing the state $5.2 billion in rent over 20 years, likely saddling taxpayers with costs beyond whatever the state would net from the sale.

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