Nation & World briefly |

Nation & World briefly

AP News in Brief

Obama: Bravery and selflessness of D-Day veterans changed course of an entire century

OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) – President Barack Obama honored the valiant dead and the “sheer improbability” of their D-Day victory, commemorating Saturday’s 65th anniversary of the decisive invasion even as he remakes two wars and tries to thwart potential nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea.

The young U.S. commander in chief, speaking at the American cemetery after the leaders of France, Canada and Britain, held up the sacrifices of D-Day veterans and their “unimaginable hell” as a lesson for modern times.

“Friends and veterans, what we cannot forget – what we must not forget – is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century,” he said.

“At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found it within themselves to do the extraordinary.”

Obama opened the emotional day by meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the nearby city of Caen. Their wives, dueling style icons in similar attire, met separately at the elegant French Prefecture.

2 bodies, ticket found near Air France crash site: Investigators look at airspeed instruments

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) – Searchers found two bodies and the first confirmed debris – a briefcase containing an Air France Flight 447 ticket – in the Atlantic Ocean near where the jetliner is believed to have crashed, a Brazil military official said Saturday.

The French agency investigating the disaster, meanwhile, said airspeed instruments were not replaced as the maker recommended before the plane disappeared in turbulent weather nearly a week ago during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard.

All were killed, the world’s worst commercial air accident since 2001, and Air France’s deadliest plane crash.

The bodies of two male passengers were recovered Saturday morning about 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of where Air France Flight 447 emitted its last signals – roughly 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil’s northern coast.

Brazilian air force spokesman Col. Jorge Amaral said an Air France ticket was found inside a leather briefcase.

“It was confirmed with Air France that the ticket number corresponds to a passenger on the flight,” he said.

AP IMPACT: Al-Qaida in North Africa: A franchise for terrorism strikes far

DRAA BEN KHEDDA, Algeria (AP) – Deep in the Sahara Desert, along the remote southern borders of Algeria, lies an immense no man’s land where militants roam.

It is here that terrorists linked with al-Qaida traffic everything from weapons and drugs to illegal migrants. They have planted at least a half-dozen cells in Europe, according to French, Italian and Belgian intelligence. Last week, they announced on the Internet that they had killed a British hostage in Mali, and are still holding a Swiss hostage.

The al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is perhaps the best example of how al-Qaida is morphing and broadening its reach through loose relationships with local offshoots. The shadowy network of Algerian cells recruits Islamist radicals throughout northern and western Africa, trains them and sends them to fight in the region or Iraq, according to Western and North African intelligence officials who asked to remain anonymous because of the nature of their jobs. In turn, AQIM gets al-Qaida’s brand name and some corporate know-how.

“The relationship with the al-Qaida mother company works like in a multinational,” says Jean-Louis Bruguiere, France’s former top counterterrorism judge and an expert on North African networks. “There’s a strong ideological link, but the local subsidiary operates on its own.”

Another Western intelligence official compares AQIM to a local fast food franchise, “only for terrorism.”

US military says teens armed with grenades and suicide vests latest insurgent recruits in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) – Teenagers armed with grenades and suicide vests are the latest recruits for Sunni insurgents trying to find new ways to outwit heightened security measures and attack American and Iraqi forces, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The use of boys also serves a propaganda purpose – the soldiers face criticism for harming children if they fire back.

Insurgents first turned to women to carry out suicide bombings, causing U.S. and Iraqi troops to step up recruiting and training of female searchers at checkpoints to seek explosives easily hidden under women’s billowing black robes.

Now they appear to be using youths and weapons that are easier to hide like grenades as they face omnipresent checkpoints and convoys aimed at bolstering security gains that have caused the level of violence to plummet nationwide.

“With grenade attacks, insurgents hope to capitalize on reports of civilian injuries blamed on a coalition response to the attack,” said Maj. Derrick Cheng, a spokesman for U.S. forces in northern Iraq. “However, the reality is that the grenade explosion itself causes the majority of civilian casualties.”

The military has said in the past it believes al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups are recruiting children because of their ability to avoid scrutiny.

Hundreds gather for funeral of abortion doctor slain as he served as usher in church

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Hundreds of people gathered Saturday to honor slain abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, eulogized by a longtime friend as a passionate and generous man who repeatedly overcame difficult challenges.

Tiller’s funeral at College Hill United Methodist Church also drew small groups of protesters. Police and federal marshals provided heavy security.

Tiller, one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions, was killed by a gunshot last Sunday in the foyer of his own church, Reformation Lutheran, while he was serving as an usher and his wife was singing in the choir. His family had the funeral at the Methodist church to accommodate the large number of mourners.

His son, Maury, said the manner of his father’s death resulted in an unimaginable outpouring of love and support for the family.

But he added: “I struggle with the manner he was welcomed into heaven.”

Others recalled personal quirks that made him human.

Tiller’s daughter, Rebecca, recalled how her father loved “Star Trek,” and gave her a framed poster of Trekkie sayings for her apartment, which he promised her would bring her success if she read them each day before going out. Among his favorites were: “Live long and prosper,” and, “When you go out to the universe remember, boldly go where no man has gone before.”

He also was remembered for his generosity and sense of humor.

Obama toughens stance against North Korea, promises ‘very hard look’ at new ways to respond

CAEN, France (AP) – His patience tested, President Barack Obama on Saturday promised a new and stronger response to defiant North Korea, saying that while he prefers diplomacy he is now taking a “very hard look” at tougher measures. A Pentagon official said no military moves were planned.

Obama’s blunt language seemed to point toward nonmilitary penalties such as financial sanctions against North Korea, either within the United Nations or by Washington alone. U.S. allies in Asia may consider new moves to improve their own military defenses.

“We are not intending to continue a policy of rewarding provocation,” he said, alluding to recent North Korea nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea presents a challenge for Obama, already burdened with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The North poses a military threat to South Korea, with large artillery forces capable of striking Seoul with little or no warning, and previous diplomatic approaches to the North have failed to rid it of nuclear weapons or halt its building of missiles.

“We are going to take a very hard look at how we move forward on these issues, and I don’t think that there should be an assumption that we will simply continue down a path in which North Korea is constantly destabilizing the region and we just react in the same ways by, after they’ve done these things for a while, then we reward them,” Obama said.