Fire Bomber Misses Swedish Pleasure Boat

MALMO, Sweden, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Police in the Swedish city of Malmo said they are searching for the person who tried to firebomb the pleasure boat Prins Bernhard Tuesday night.

Witnesses told police they saw someone throw a firebomb at the vessel and then run away, the Swedish news agency TT reported.

The bomb missed the boat and landed instead on an outside ramp, starting a small fire but causing little damage.

Police said it was the second attack this year on the Prins Bernhard.

Tuesday night’s incident is the latest in a long list of explosions at restaurants in Malmo.

Yemen Points Fingers During U.N. Speech

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The Yemeni foreign minister told U.N. delegates that opposition figures and violence were at the heart of the country’s ongoing political woes.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Sanaa last week after spending more than three months in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds suffered during a June attack on his presidential compound. He called for early elections but didn’t announce his resignation despite facing pressure to do so for much of the year.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the U.N. General Assembly that opposition figures were getting in the way of democratic change through elections in his country.

He added that Saleh had offered compromises to the opposition as far back as 2006, which he said led to parliamentary election delays.

The Gulf Cooperation Council had brokered a deal that called on Saleh to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The GCC secretary-general left Yemen last week without a deal. Saleh, in a speech last weekend, called on Yemenis to “head toward the ballot boxes.”

Qirbi, in his address, called for a seamless transition of power that would allow for reconciliation and reconstruction without violating the country’s democratic principles.

Beirut Opposition Lauds Hariri Tribunal

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A tribunal investigating the 2005 slaying of Rafik Hariri is the “cornerstone” for peace in Lebanon, the opposition March 14 alliance said in a statement.

The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri, a former prime minister. This summer, it named four members of Hezbollah as the likely perpetrators of the assassination.

The March 14 alliance, which led the previous Lebanese government under Saad Hariri, the slain prime minister’s son, said the tribunal was vital for the country.

“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is the cornerstone for Lebanon’s civil peace and the rise of a state capable of implementing the law equally among all citizens,” it said in a statement published by Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.

Lebanese leaders in the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed support for the tribunal, though March 14 said it would be better if Beirut handed suspects over to tribunal authorities.

Lebanese authorities in their August update to the tribunal said they weren’t able to apprehend any of the suspects named by the tribunal.

Hezbollah leaders said the case is part of an Israeli ploy to discredit the Shiite resistance. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, addressing the U.N. General Assembly last week, said Beirut “has always been committed” to respecting the tribunal.

GOP Students Hold Diversity Bake Sale

BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 28 (UPI) — An “increase diversity bake sale” sponsored by college Republicans at the University of California drew hundreds of students to Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza.

Under the bake sale’s satirical pricing structure whites were charged $2 for the same baked goods that minorities and women could purchase for much less, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The event was timed to counteract a phone bank supporting legislation on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk allowing the UC and Cal State University systems to consider ethnicity in admission decisions.

Current California law prohibits affirmative action in public university admissions.

The GOP bake sale was intended to spark a discussion among students about race and gender in admission to California’s public colleges and universities.

“This has created the dialogue we wanted,” said Shawn Lewis, president of the Berkeley College Republicans. “Berkeley is the home of the free speech movement. We want to be sure that it doesn’t become the capital of political correctness.”

Mexican Teachers Strike Against Violence

ACAPULCO, Mexico, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Mexican teachers are striking against rampant crime after some educators have reported being extorted, kidnapped and intimidated by local gangs, officials said.

About 7,000 teachers marched up the main tourist strip Tuesday in the coastal Mexican city of Acapulco with banners demanding security from government officials, El Universal reported.

Several anonymous death threats have been sent to teachers by criminal gangs demanding over half their salaries.

Teachers have refused to return to classrooms until the government does something to protect them.

More than a hundred schools have been shut down in the once-popular tourist resort since August, when public school resumed across Mexico.

Drug cartels have been fighting for control of Acapulco over the last two years by extorting professionals and local business owners to fund the drug organizations.

Al-Qaida To Iran: 9/11 Theory ‘ridiculous’

SANAA, Yemen, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Al-Qaida has told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to drop the “ridiculous” theory the U.S. government carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

ABC News reports the message came in an article in the latest issue of al-Qaida’s English-language magazine Inspire.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its President Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al-Qaida was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” the article states “So we may ask the question: Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

The article claims Iran views itself as a rival to al-Qaida in terms of anti-Americanism and says Iran was jealous of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

“For [Iran], al-Qaida was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world,” the article reads. “Al-Qaida … succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”

In another article in the magazine, allegedly written by Osama bin Laden before he was killed the U.S. Navy SEALs in May, the al-Qaida founder tells followers not to allow American soldiers to “become great in your eyes.”

Ahmadinejad continues to claim the United States was behind the terror attacks and did so during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week, prompting walkouts by the U.S. delegation and several others.

Supercommittee Super Secret About Meetings

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The bicameral, bipartisan congressional committee tasked with reducing the U.S. deficit has met in secret and its members are mum, observers said.

A dozen lawmakers must slash at least $1.2 trillion from the nation’s deficit over the next decade, spending time behind closed doors and revealing nearly nothing about the proceedings, Politico reported Tuesday.

“I don’t want to discuss what we discussed,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said after leaving a meeting of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee Tuesday, the second day the panel met.

None of the members discussed the proceedings as they left. Asked whether the committee was adhering to the promise of transparency, Kerry said members were “living up to the commitment of getting the job done for the American people.”

“Some” of the meetings would be open, Kerry said, while “some will not.”

The committee’s co-leaders also weren’t forthcoming, Politico said.

So what do the chairmen have to say?

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said only the panel had a “very productive day” and wasn’t going to reveal “any of the details.”

Co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, left through a side door and avoided the media, Politico said.

So far, the committee has conducted four private meetings and two public meetings.

Slaying Suspect Says She’s A Vampire

PARKER, Fla., Sept. 28 (UPI) — A suspect arrested in the slaying of a Florida teen has told police she believes she is a vampire.

Stephanie Pistey’s statement confirms the suspicion of authorities in Parker, Fla. that the July killing of 16-year-old Jacob Hendershot may have involved an alleged cult, WBBH-TV, Fort Myers, Fla., reported.

Investigators charge a group of Pistey’s friends lured Hendershot to a house in Parker, killed him and then dumped his body in a concrete enclosure.

Five people, including Pistey, have been charged with homicide or accessory to homicide.

Pistey was arrested on accessory charges.

“I believe that I’m a vampire and part werewolf,” Pistey, 18, told police.

She denied drinking Hendershot’s blood but said she has drunk the blood of her fiance and co-defendant William Chase, 25.

Police initially believed Hendershot was beaten to death because Pistey accused him of raping her, WETVJ-TV, Miami, reported.

Court Upholds Protesters’ Sentences

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Protesters convicted of plotting to overthrow the government of the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain will not have their convictions overturned, a court ruled.

Bahrain’s National Safety Court of Appeals has upheld the guilty verdicts against 21 people along with the sentences they received, Gulf News reported Wednesday.

The defendants were charged with a number of counts including establishing and managing terror groups in an effort to topple Bahrain’s royal regime and change its constitution.

Other charges involved inciting public hatred and contempt, disseminating false information and inciting non-compliance with the law.

Nine of the 21 defendants were sentenced to life in prison while 13 others received prison sentences ranging from one year to 15 years.

Iran Sends Cruise Missiles To Its Navy

TEHRAN, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Cruise missiles with a range of 124 miles were delivered to the Iranian navy to bolster the country’s national defense, the military said.

The Iranian Defense Ministry said it supplied “large numbers” of anti-ship cruise missiles to the Iranian navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.

Iranian military officials noted, during a ceremony commemorating the delivery, that the cruise missiles were manufactured domestically.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, the Mehr News Agency in Iran reported, said his country was working on a radar system to counter incoming cruise missile threats. An anti-missile system, he added, is being designed with the aim of retargeting enemy missiles.

Tehran had wanted Russia’s S-300 missile defense system to protect its nuclear installations from a possible aerial attack by the Israelis, who bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility in the 1980s.

A 2005 contract signed by Moscow and Tehran outlined terms of the sale of the S-300 missile defense system. The missile system boasts a range of around 100 miles and can engage several targets at once.

However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an executive order last year prohibiting the sale of military equipment to Iran.

Gadhafi Near Southern Border, TNC Says

TRIPOLI, Libya, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Moammar Gadhafi is being protected by a local tribe near the border with Niger and Algeria, an official in the Libyan transitional government said.

Col. Abdul Basit, a military spokesman for the ruling Transitional National Council, told CNN that Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam is in Sirte, one of the last strongholds of the Gadhafi regime.

Gadhafi’s grip on power came to an end in late August when rebel fighters captured Tripoli, leading to new leadership under the TNC.

Basit told CNN the TNC had information suggesting Gadhafi was being protected by tribal loyalists near Libya’s southwestern border.

“We have reliable information that Gadhafi is protected by the Tuareg tribe located between Niger, Algeria, and Ghadames town in Libya,” he said.

The tribe was used by Gadhafi in the past to support national forces and was suspected of helping regime loyalists get out of the country.

Gadhafi and members of his inner circle are wanted by the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes committed since the uprising began in February.

Human Rights Watch notes that a grave site near Tripoli allegedly contains the bodies of some 1,200 prisoners massacred at Abu Salim prison in 1996.

Judge: Girl Who Killed Family Now Low-risk

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A Canadian judge says an Alberta girl convicted of helping kill her parents and brother when she was 12 in 2006 is ready for limited freedom soon.

The girl, who turns 18 next month, made a video appearance before a sentencing review hearing from Calgary to Justice Scott Brooker in Medicine Hat, the girl’s hometown in southeastern Alberta.

The teenager, who can’t be named because she is still a minor, was given the maximum youth sentence of 10 years for the triple homicide of her parents and 8-year-old brother. She was dating then 23-year-old Jeremy Steinke and her parents wanted the relationship to end, the court heard.

Steinke was also convicted of stabbing the family to death as they slept and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, the Calgary Herald said.

The judge said he was satisfied with case workers’ reports the girl has made progress and will be ready for reintegration into the community with monitoring and conditions.

“I’ve read the various reports and I think it’s fair to say the reports are very positive,” Brooker said. “It’s clear from the experts the young person present is a low risk for future violence, and has been cooperating fully in the treatment program.”

Among the restrictions on her freedom is a curfew, weekly parole visits, either working or going to school, avoiding alcohol and drugs and no weapons, the report said.

Her Internet usage and cellphone are also subject to scrutiny with a warrant, the judge ordered.

U.S. Watching North Korea’s Leadership

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Timing of any future provocative act by North Korea depends on the health of its leader, Kim Jong Il, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific said.

Adm. Robert Willard, speaking at a briefing in Washington Tuesday, said the United States is monitoring North Korea for signs that the reclusive nation may be planning aggressive actions in light of its succession process, Stars and Stripes reported.

Western leaders said they believe Kim Jong Un, Kim’s son, has been designated the next ruler of the country.

“We try to determine the succession dynamics that are ongoing, especially as we approach 2012, which the North Koreans have declared as an auspicious year for themselves and what that may portend in terms of Kim Jong Un’s leadership position,” Willard said.

A North Korean torpedo sank the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010, killing 46 sailors and heightening tensions between the two countries. In November 2010, North Korea attacked a South Korean island, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.

Recently, however, North Korean officials signaled an interest in resuming six-party international talks about the country’s nuclear program.

In the past, North Korea’s succession process has led to provocations as the possible new leader attempts to establish his credibility with the North Korean military, Willard said.

He noted Kim Jong Un’s presence during the 2010 attacks “was not lost on us.”

Willard said attitudes in South Korea toward its northern neighbor have “fundamentally changed.”

“There is very strong … intolerance at this point for any further provocations,” he said.

Father Says Egyptian Blogger Near Death

CAIRO, Sept. 28 (UPI) — An imprisoned Egyptian blogger on a hunger strike for more than a month must be freed immediately before he dies, his family told the military.

Nabil Sanad said his son Maikel Nabil has lost more than 33 pounds since he stopped eating prison food 35 days ago, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

“I’m afraid my son is dying,” Sanad told a news conference Tuesday.

Maikel Nabil was arrested March 28 after denouncing in an online blog post the actions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces during the January revolution.

He was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the military.”

At the news conference Nabil’s brother said Nabil is suffering from scabies, cardiac arrhythmia and kidney problems.

“We have medication for him but they (prison authorities) won’t give it to him,” said his brother Marc.

Prison authorities have told the family that hunger strikers rarely survive longer than 40 days.

Japanese Teen Dies During Exorcism

KUMAMOTO, Japan, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Police in Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture say they arrested a monk and a 50-year-old man for killing the man’s teenage daughter during an exorcism.

Police said 13-year-old Tomomi Maishigi suffocated to death after she was tied to a chair and doused with water to exorcise “an evil spirit,” The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday.

Her father Atsushi Maishigi and Kazuaki Kinoshita, a 56-year-old monk, are being held on suspicion of causing bodily injury that resulted in death.

“My daughter was possessed,” Maishigi said. “So we performed the ritual on her to exorcise the demons so she could get well.”

During the ritual, performed under a concrete waterfall at a church in Nagasumachi, Maishigi held his daughter down while Kinoshita recited sutras, police said.

The girl reportedly suffered from mental and physical illness since she was in primary school.

Kumamoto prefecture is in south western Japan.

Eight Die In Attacks Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Eight people were killed and eight others, including a police officer, were injured in attacks across Iraq, security officials said Wednesday.

Five Iraqi citizens were killed and seven injured in an attack on a house of the pro-government al-Sahwa Force leader south of Fallujah, Aswat al-Iraq reported.

Security officials said the unnamed leader was not home when the attack occurred, a security official said.

“A group of armed men have attacked the house of a leader of al-Sahwa Force in Annaz village, southeast of Fallujah, killing five civilians, including two children, and wounding seven others,” the official said.

Separately, coalition and Iraqi forces killed two men during a clash Wednesday in Mariam Beg, a village south of Kirkuk, the city’s police director said.

Officials said the two men, who escaped, were trying to plant a bomb, Aswat al-Iraq said.

A security official told Aswat al-Iraq an Iraqi civilian was shot and killed and a police officer injured during an attack by a group of unknown gunmen Tuesday in Baghdad.

“A group of unknown gunmen have launched an attack, using silencer-equipped guns, on a car, carrying a police officer and a civilian in southern Baghdad’s Daura district late Tuesday, instantly killing the civilian and seriously wounding the officer,” the security official said.

Two Storms Meander In Tropical Atlantic

MIAMI, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Two storm systems swirled in the tropical Atlantic Ocean Wednesday, with neither posing a threat to land, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Neither Tropical Storm Philippe nor Tropical Depression Ophelia prompted any coastal watches or warnings, the center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory.

Philippe, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, was about 930 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, traveling west-northwest at 12 mph.

The tropical storm was expected to shift to a more northwesterly track and increase its forward speed during the next two days, the center said. It was expected to weaken and could become a tropical depression by Wednesday night or Thursday.

Tropical Depression Ophelia, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, was about 205 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, traveling on a northwesterly path at 3 mph, the center said.

Ophelia is expected to turn more to the north-northwest with increase its forward speed over the next couple of days, the center said.

The center said the Ophelia was expected to re-strengthen to a tropical storm later Wednesday.

Ophelia could produce 1-3 inches over the northern Leeward Islands, the center said.

Shooter Not Among The Dead In Indiana

LAUREL, Ind., Sept. 28 (UPI) — Residents of Laurel, Ind. were told to keep their doors locked Wednesday while authorities search for suspects in the shooting deaths of five rural residents.

The Franklin County coroner identified the dead as 47-year-old Angela Napier, her former husband Roy Napier, 50, Melissa Napier, 23, and Jacob Napier, 18. The body of the fifth victim, Henry Smith, 43, was found across the street from the Napier home, WRTV, Indianapolis, reported.

State police said they have determined the shooter was not among the dead.

“We have officially started a murder investigation,” Sgt. Jerry Goodin told a news conference. “We are continuing to follow numerous tips and leads and we are encouraging the public to continue contacting us with those tips and leads.

The bodies of the five were discovered after a 4-year-old girl who escaped the crime scene was found walking down the road Sunday wearing only a pair of cotton pants, WKRC-TV, Cincinnati, reported.

A couple that spotted the little girl called police.

Palestinian Prisoners Stage Hunger Strike

JERUSALEM, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Palestinian inmates at four prisons in Israel have launched a hunger strike, Israel’s Prison Service confirmed Wednesday.

The 85 security inmates are demanding that Palestinian prisoners separated from the general inmate population be returned to regular wings of the four prisons, Ynetnews.com reported.

Issa Karaka, Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, said the prisoners decided to hold a hunger strike every week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until their demands are met.

Karaka said if the government fails to respond the prisoners will go a step further and disobey prison rules.

Prisons involved in the protest are Nafha, Eshel, Ramon and Ketziot.

Security Tightened Along West Bank

JERUSALEM, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Israeli officials tightened security and closed access to the West Bank for Rosh Hashanah Wednesday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the closure, which started at midnight Tuesday, will continue through the weekend. Exceptions will be made for medical emergencies and other humanitarian issues at the government’s discretion, Ynetnews.com reported.

The report said a massive police presence was expected in city centers and communities adjacent to the West Bank.Traffic jams and airport crowds were expected across Israel as the Jewish state celebrates the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Weather forecasters predicted a light rain in the north of the country and along the coast, Haaretz reported.

Police warned they would strictly enforce traffic laws despite the jams that are expected as Israelis hit the road to celebrate the Jewish New Year with family and friends.

Nearly 86,000 people are expected to fly out of Ben Gurion International Airport on 567 flights during the holiday.

The most popular holiday destinations are Greece, the United States, Germany, Italy, Russia and Ukraine.

Airport officials predict an estimated 1.16 million travelers will pass through the airport during the entire fall Jewish holiday season.

Jared Loughner Faces Competency Hearing

TUCSON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — The man charged in the Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, faces a competency hearing in Arizona.

Jared Loughner is expected to be at the hearing Wednesday in Tucson that is to decide whether he should remain jailed in Missouri or if he is competent enough to stand trial, CNN reported.

Loughner is charged in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage outside of a supermarket in Tucson that left six people dead, including a child and a federal judge. Thirteen others were wounded, including Giffords, D-Ariz.

He pleaded not guilty.

Last month, federal authorities asked for more time to try to restore his competency, saying he was unable to stand trial. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic and placed on suicide watch.

He has been incarcerated at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo., since May, after a federal appeals court said he could be forcibly medicated despite objections of Loughner and his lawyers.

Lawmaker Accused Of Selling His Office

BALTIMORE, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A Maryland lawmaker was accused of selling his office for $245,000 at the opening of his Baltimore trial on federal bribery and extortion charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O. Gavin told jurors 74-year-old state Sen. Ulysses Currie conspired with two executives to provide government favors to Shoppers Food Warehouse, The Washington Post reported.

Gavin said the Prince Georges County Democrat failed to disclose payments he received.

“This is a case about a politician who took bribes,” Gavin said in her opening statement Tuesday. “He sold his office for almost a quarter of a million dollars.”

The prosecution charges Currie helped Shoppers transfer a liquor license, get a rent reduction for one store, win approval for a stop light at another store and secure a road improvement for a third location.

Attorneys for Currie and the two corporate executives said Currie’s work was not a secret since he had signed a consulting contract with the chain.

Currie appeared in public at store openings, the attorneys said.

“Their allegations simply do not make sense,” said Lucius T. Outlaw III, assistant federal public defender.

Yemen Says Rebels Downed Plane

SANAA, Yemen, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Yemeni government officials Wednesday blamed the opposition for shooting down a war plane that crashed north of the capital Sanaa.

State television blamed three members of the opposition for downing the plane, which occurred as anti-government protests attracted huge crowds, CNN reported.

The plane crashed near Arhab north of Sanaa.

An opposition fighter said the plane was used to attack people in the area. Anti-government protesters have been seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who made a surprise return Friday from Saudi Arabia, where he had been recovering from injuries he sustained in a bombing of his residential palace during the summer.

“The government is attacking and killing our loved ones because they have the weapons. We have to fight back and we will do so,” Abdullah al-Shaleef told CNN.

Government officials said Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed survived an assassination attempt Tuesday in the port city of Aden, where an attacker detonated a car bomb next to the minister’s convoy, The New York Times reported.

The government said in a statement several of the minister’s guards were wounded. Witnesses said the explosion occurred as the convoy left a hotel.

The government blamed “terrorists from al-Qaida.”