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Nation & World briefly

‘al-Qaida sympathizer’ accused of NYC bomb plots; defense says he’s no conspirator

NEW YORK (AP) – An “al-Qaida sympathizer” accused of plotting to bomb police and post offices in New York City as well as U.S. troops returning home has been arrested on numerous terrorism-related charges.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a news conference Sunday the arrest of Jose Pimentel of Manhattan, “a 27-year-old al-Qaida sympathizer” who the mayor said was motivated by terrorist propaganda and resentment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police had to move quickly to arrest Pimentel on Saturday because he was ready to carry out his plan.

“We had to act quickly yesterday because he was in fact putting this bomb together. He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb,” Kelly said.

The police commissioner said Pimentel was energized and motivated to carry out his plan by the Sept. 30 killing of al-Qaida’s U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Debt panel poised to admit failure in quest for $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A special deficit-reduction supercommittee appears likely to admit failure on Monday, unable or unwilling to compromise on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases required to meet its assignment of saving taxpayers at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade.

The panel is sputtering to a close after two months of talks in which the members were never able to get close to bridging a fundamental divide over how much to raise taxes to address a budget deficit that forced the government to borrow 36 cents of every dollar it spent last year.

Members of the bipartisan panel, formed during the summer crisis over raising the government’s borrowing limit, spent their time on Sunday in testy performances on television talk shows, blaming each other for the impasse.

In a series of television interviews, not a single panelist seemed optimistic about any last-minute breakthrough. And it was clear that the two sides had never gotten particularly close, at least in the official exchanges of offers that were leaked to the media.

Aides said any remaining talks had broken off.

2 officers placed on paid administrative leave in wake of Calif. university pepper spray video

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A California university placed two of its police officers on administrative leave Sunday because of their involvement in the pepper spraying of passively sitting protesters, while the school’s chancellor accelerated a task force’s investigation into the incident amid calls for her resignation.

The president of the 10-campus University of California system also weighed in on the growing fallout from Friday’s incident at UC Davis, saying that he is “appalled” at images of students being doused with pepper spray and plans a far-reaching, urgent assessment of law enforcement procedures on all campuses.

“I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said. All 10 chancellors would convene soon for a discussion “about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest,” he said.

Officials at UC Davis refused to identify the two officers who were place on administrative leave but one was a veteran of many years on the force and other “fairly new” to the department, the school’s Police Chief Annette Spicuzza told The Associated Press. She would not elaborate further because of the pending probe.

Videos posted online of the incident clearly show one riot-gear clad officer dousing the line of protesters with spray as they sit in a line with their arms intertwined. Spicuzza told the AP that the second officer was identified during an intense review of several videos.

With Romney growing stronger, is the NH primary a race for second place?

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) – Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign steamed forward this weekend, scoring what is one of New Hampshire’s most significant political endorsements and fueling a growing sense of inevitability surrounding the former Massachusetts governor’s White House bid.

A beaming Romney stood shoulder-to-shoulder with New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte Sunday afternoon, several hours after the popular Republican senator’s decision became public.

“There’s one person in this field who is prepared to lead the United States of America and that is Mitt Romney,” Ayotte told cheering supporters gathered on the city hall steps. “And most importantly, there is one person who I know will ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term president and that is Mitt Romney.”

The freshman senator is the latest high-profile addition to an organization that already included Granite State Republican heavyweights like former Sen. Judd Gregg and former Gov. John H. Sununu. But even in a world where the impact of endorsements is often exaggerated, Ayotte’s public support is a significant step forward for Romney in New Hampshire. It’s led prominent Republicans to suggest that Romney – who already enjoys tremendous advantages in the first-in-the-nation primary state – has become so strong here that the real contest on Jan. 10 will be for second place.

“It’s certainly going to push him even further ahead. I think this is a very big deal,” said Jennifer Horn, a leading Granite State conservative who isn’t affiliated with any campaign. “I think it would take something fairly cataclysmic for someone else to come in first in New Hampshire at this point.”

Libya says it will try Gadhafi’s son at home, announces capture of ex-intelligence chief

ZINTAN, Libya (AP) – Libya’s new leaders said Sunday they will try Moammar Gadhafi’s son at home and not hand him over to the International Criminal Court where he’s charged with crimes against humanity. The government also announced the capture of the toppled regime’s intelligence minister, who is also wanted by the court.

In one of several emerging complications, however, the former rebel faction that captured Seif al-Islam Gadhafi a day earlier is refusing to deliver him to national authorities in Tripoli, raising concern over whether he will get a proper trial and demonstrating the interim leaders’ weak hold over their fractured nation.

In the capital, Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said ex-Intelligence Minister Abdullah al-Senoussi was captured alive on Sunday by revolutionary fighters from a southern region called Fazan, not far from where Gadhafi’s son was seized on Saturday while trying to flee to neighboring Niger.

Fighters tracking al-Senoussi for two days caught up with him at his sister’s house in Deerat al-Shati, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) south of the desert city of Sebha, said fighter Abdullah al-Sughayer. There were few other immediate details on his capture, and it was not clear whether his captors would also resist turning him over to Tripoli.

Though they are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Libya will likely seek to try both men at home.

Theodore Forstmann, 71, dies; was major player in 1980s corporate takeover wave

NEW YORK (AP) – Theodore J. Forstmann, a longtime Wall Street financier who was a major player during the wave of corporate takeovers in the 1980s, including the battle for RJR Nabisco in 1988, died Sunday at the age of 71.

The cause was brain cancer, according to a statement from sports marketing giant IMG, where Forstmann served as chairman and CEO after acquiring the company in 2004.

A pioneer of the leveraged buyout business, celebrity bachelor and free market proselytizer, Forstmann cut the figure of a swashbuckling risk taker. But in buying companies, he tended to be more careful and conservative than did rivals. Famously, he backed down from buying RJR Nabisco when the price got too high. His instincts turned out right. The winner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, struggled for years to wring profits from the company.

Forstmann was the senior founding partner of investment firm Forstmann Little & Co., one of Wall Street’s most successful specialists in leveraged buyouts, deals financed mostly with debt. The company completed dozens of such deals to purchase a wide array of companies, including Dr. Pepper, baseball card maker Topps, Gulfstream Aerospace and Ziff-Davis Publishing.

Forstmann Little’s leveraged buyouts generated lofty returns for its partners and outside investors, which included many corporate pension funds.

Police set fire to protest tents in Tahrir Square as clashes rage on Egypt’s streets again

CAIRO (AP) – Egyptian soldiers and police set fire to protest tents in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and fired tear gas and rubber bullets in a major assault Sunday to drive out thousands demanding that the military rulers quickly transfer power to a civilian government. At least 11 protesters were killed and hundreds were injured.

It was the second day of clashes marking a sharp escalation of tensions on Egypt’s streets a week before the first elections since the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in February. The military took over the country, promising a swift transition to civilian rule. But the pro-democracy protesters who led the uprising have grown increasingly angry with the ruling generals, and suspect they are trying to cling to power even after an elected parliament is seated and a new president is voted in.

Street battles continued throughout the day and long into the night, spreading to side streets and sending a wave of injuries to makeshift clinics on the streets.

The military-backed Cabinet said in a statement that elections set to begin on Nov. 28 would take place on time and thanked the police for their “restraint,” language that is likely to enrage the protesters even more.

“We’re not going anywhere,” protester Mohammed Radwan said after security forces tried unsuccessfully to push the crowds out of Tahrir, the epicenter of the uprising. “The mood is good now and people are chanting again,” he added after many of the demonstrators returned.

Fire rages through prayer ceremony in India, killing 15 eunuchs

NEW DELHI (AP) – A fire tore through a makeshift tent at a gathering of thousands of eunuchs in the Indian capital, killing 15 people and injuring at least 36 others, police said.

Emergency workers said Sunday’s blaze was most likely caused by an electrical short and quickly spread through the tent, which was about 100 feet (30 meters) long.

The tragedy struck at a prayer ceremony and feast celebrated by the marginalized community.

About 5,000 eunuchs had gathered for the event that’s held once every five years, said Shapo, an organizer of the event at a fairground in the Nandnagary neighborhood of east Delhi. Shapo, like many eunuchs, uses only one name.

Sunday was the first day of the 20-day event, said Ratna, an attendee.

Taylor Swift wins 3 trophies at 39th annual American Music Awards; Adele also wins 3 awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Taylor Swift was crowned artist of the year at the American Music Awards for a second time.

“This is so crazy!” the country superstar said after beat such contenders as Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to capture all three awards that she was nominated for at Sunday’s ceremony, including artist of the year, the show’s highest accolade that she previously claimed in 2009.

“I ended up writing the record by myself, so the fact that you would honor it this way, you have no idea what this means to me,” said Swift after winning the trophy for favorite country album for “Speak Now.” She was also awarded the prize for favorite country female artist.

Nicki Minaj, the pink-loving hip-hop diva, won two awards Sunday. She kicked off the 39th annual fan-favorite ceremony by sporting a pair of speakers on her much-talked about posterior and was later honored as favorite rap/hip-hop artist, besting a group that included mentor Lil Wayne, and won favorite rap/hip-hop album for “Pink Friday.”

“There’s so much love in this room,” beamed the pink-haired Minaj.

Eagles come back late again to beat Giants again, this time 17-10 on Young 8-yard TD to Cooper

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Vince Young threw a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with 2:45 to play and the undermanned Philadelphia Eagles finally got things right in the fourth quarter, posting a 17-10 victory over the New York Giants.

In what was a must-win game for Andy Reid’s struggling team Sunday night, the Eagles, who had lost five games in the fourth quarter earlier this season, marched 80 yards in 18 plays over 8:51. They converted six third-down plays with DeSean Jackson setting up the first-and-goal with a 10-yard catch to the 10.

On third-and-goal, Young found Cooper, who hadn’t caught a pass all season, alone in the end zone for the lead that gave the Eagles (4-6) hope in what has been a dismal season.