Congress calls for shell barge investigation
Calls for federal scrutiny of Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling operations in Arctic waters swelled Thursday with a request by members of Congress for a formal investigation. The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called on the Interior Department and the Coast Guard to jointly investigate the New Year's Eve grounding of the Shell drill vessel Kulluk on a remote Gulf of Alaska island, and a previous incident connected to Arctic offshore drilling operations. The Kulluk remains upright, and the Coast Guard said there was no indication of a fuel leak.
Red states get health care nod
In a rare injection of bipartisanship in the contentious health care overhaul, the Obama administration cleared four Republican-led states Thursday to build their own consumer-friendly insurance markets. With open enrollment for millions of uninsured Americans coming Oct. 1, the four join a group totaling 17 states plus Washington, D.C., that have gotten an initial go-ahead to build and run insurance exchanges. GOP-led Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah were among seven states approved Thursday. Significantly, the list also included California, which has the most uninsured residents at nearly 7.5 million.
Britain extradites al-Qaida suspect
Police in Britain have extradited a terror suspect to the United States to face charges that he took part in an alleged al-Qaida plot to detonate explosives aboard the New York City subway system. British officials handed over Abid Naseer, 26, to U.S. authorities Thursday. Prosecutors want Naseer to stand trial in New York for his alleged role in a terror campaign that also would have struck targets in Britain and Norway. Naseer was due in federal court Monday.
Sept. 11 trial gets further restrictions
The military judge overseeing the trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others has ruled that lawyers cannot make public even unclassified materials. Army Col. James L. Pohl's ruling follows an order Dec. 6 in which he ruled evidence or discussion about harsh interrogation techniques used against the men also be kept secret. Human rights groups say the government is trying to hide that the men were tortured.
Chávez fighting lung infection
The Venezuelan government Thursday night described President Hugo Chávez's lung infection as "severe" and said he is now being treated for "respiratory deficiency." Chávez hasn't been seen or heard from since his Dec. 11 cancer surgery, and speculation has grown that his illness could be reaching its final stages.