Militia suspects plead Not guilty
Not-guilty pleas were entered Wednesday in Michigan on behalf of eight members of a Christian militia that prosecutors say plotted to kill police officers and spark a violent revolt against the U.S. government. Nine suspected members of Hutaree, self-proclaimed "Christian warriors," were arrested after a series of raids across the Midwest. All have been charged with seditious conspiracy. Eight suspects were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit, including the alleged ringleader, David Brian Stone, 44. The ninth suspect, Thomas W. Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., appeared in court in Indiana, but no plea was entered. All are being held without bail and each has requested a public defender.
Telemarketers ordered to pay $18 million fine
Telephone fundraisers who duped consumers about their donations to police and firefighters must pay a record fine worth $18.8 million. The Federal Trade Commission announced the fine Wednesday against two New Jersey-based companies, Civic Development Group LLC and CDG Management LLC, and owners Scott Pasch and David Keezer. The accused didn't explain that they were professional fundraisers and that only a fraction of donations was going to charity, the agency said. The civil penalty is the biggest ever in an FTC consumer protection case.
Donors surpass goal of $3.8B for Haiti
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed to the world's nations Wednesday to donate $3.8 billion to start rebuilding earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The United States and the European Union pledged more than two-thirds of the amount. By late afternoon, a U.N. tally showed nations and organizations had pledged nearly $5.1 billion for the next 18 months.
Texting by truck, bus drivers to be banned
The Transportation Department on Wednesday proposed a ban on text messaging at the wheel by interstate truck and bus drivers, following up on its call to reduce distractions that lead to crashes. The proposal would make permanent an interim ban announced in January by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, applying to drivers of buses and commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds. The Transportation Department reports that 5,870 people were killed and 515,000 injured in 2008 in crashes connected to driver distraction.
Millions of swine flu doses may be tossed
Less than half of the 229 million doses of H1N1 vaccine the government bought to fight the pandemic have been administered — leaving an estimated 71.5 million doses that must be discarded if they are not used before they expire. Between 81 million and 91 million doses of swine flu vaccine were injected into arms or squirted up noses through the end of February, according to federal officials, leaving about 138 million doses unused.
China agrees to weigh sanctions against Iran
After months of resisting the idea of new Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the Chinese government appears to have taken a step closer to supporting them, agreeing to enter negotiations over the language of a new resolution to intensify international pressure on Iran. The five permanent members of the Security Council, along with Germany, have been discussing the idea of sanctions since at least December. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that all the permanent members of the Security Council, which includes China and Russia, were now "unified" on the issue and that "a great deal of further consultation" would occur in the coming weeks.
Security Council backs Iraq election results
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday called on all political parties to respect Iraq's election results and the choices of the Iraqi people. It also urged the country's political leaders "to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and actions." In Iraq, however, political maneuvering intensified following Friday's release of election results that gave a coalition led by secular challenger Ayad Allawi a two-seat lead over a bloc led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Houston: Former first lady Barbara Bush was released Wednesday from a hospital, where she underwent tests after being admitted Saturday.
BRUSSELS: A Belgian parliamentary committee voted Wednesday to ban the wearing of face-covering veils in public.