audit finds no conflict in pipeline review
The State Department's inspector general has found no conflict of interest or improper political influence in the agency's review of the disputed Keystone XL pipeline project. But in a report released Thursday, the official said the department had not adequately weighed concerns about the route of the 1,700-mile pipeline and should strengthen its oversight of contractors performing environmental impact statements for major projects. The proposed Keystone pipeline is to carry heavy oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Prominent rights judge convicted
Spain's Supreme Court convicted a crusading judge Thursday of overstepping his authority in a wiretapping case and ordered him suspended from the courts for 11 years. There is no appeal. The judge, Baltasar Garzon, is renowned for pressing cases against former dictators, including Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and ordering an inquiry into atrocities committed by fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. The case is one of three against him.
India explores Iran opportunities
India emerged as a major new irritant Thursday in Western efforts to isolate Iran, announcing it is sending a large trade delegation there within weeks to exploit opportunities created by U.S. and European anti-nuclear sanctions that are disrupting Iran's economy. The announcement coincided with reports that India eclipsed China for the first time last month as Iran's No. 1 petroleum customer, subverting U.S. efforts to persuade countries to find non-Iranian sources for their energy needs or risk penalties under a new American sanctions law.
Tassimo single-cup brewers recalled
More than a million popular coffeemakers are being recalled after dozens of reports of the brewers spraying hot liquid, coffee grounds or tea leaves onto people. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says there have been 140 reports of problems with the Tassimo single-cup brewers dousing people, including 37 cases involving second-degree burns. CPSC says the coffee maker's "T-disc," the plastic disc that holds the coffee or tea, can burst while brewing. The agency also announced the recall of 4 million packages of Tassimo espresso T-discs after 21 reports of problems.
Washington: Scientists say NASA will propose major cuts in exploration of other planets, especially Mars.
Panama: Medical authorities say former dictator Manuel Noriega has left a hospital four days after fainting and returned to prison.
Phoenix: Ron Barber, a top aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was also shot when she was critically injured, says he is running in a special election to fill her seat for the six months remaining in her term.
Washington: The U.S. Postal Service's fourth-quarter loss ballooned to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and soaring costs of health benefits for future retirees. It says at this rate, it will run out of money by October.
Los Angeles: Miramonte Elementary School students returned to class Thursday after the entire staff was replaced when two longtime teachers were accused of lewd acts on children.