House passes bill allowing suits against Saudis
Congress sent President Barack Obama a bipartisan bill that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia, putting lawmakers on a collision course with the White House on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the attacks. The House passed the legislation Friday by voice vote, about four months after the measure cleared the Senate despite vehement objections from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. The legislation gives victims' families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks that killed thousands in New York, the Washington, D.C., area and Pennsylvania. The White House has signaled Obama would veto the legislation over the potential for it to backfire and apprehension about undermining a long-standing yet strained relationship with a critical U.S. ally in the Middle East. The Obama administration has warned that if U.S. citizens can take the Saudis to court, then a foreign country could in turn sue the United States.
Appeals court blocks voting requirement
A federal appeals court on Friday blocked Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form. The 2-1 ruling is a victory for voting rights groups who said a U.S. election official illegally changed proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal registration form at the behest of the three states. People registering to vote in other states are only required to swear that that they are citizens, not show documentary proof. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia acted swiftly in the case, issuing a two-page, unsigned ruling just a day after hearing oral arguments.
Fresno, Calif.: A U.S. lawmaker accused Yosemite National Park of breaking federal law by adding 400 acres for a wildlife preserve without clearing it through Congress, but federal park officials said Friday that he's misinterpreting the law. The claim was made by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.
Tourists rescued after overnight cable car ordeal
Dozens of tourists, including three children, were rescued Friday after being trapped overnight in cable cars dangling above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps, French officials said. Their return to land ended an extraordinarily complex and vertiginous rescue effort over two days amid the spectacular but dangerous landscape of Western Europe's tallest mountains. The last passengers were brought down Friday morning, after emergency workers managed to untangle cables that had jammed Thursday, according to the mayor of the French town of Chamonix. With the cables now straightened, the cable cars were able to resume their journey Friday, at very slow speeds and under close surveillance, and delivered the passengers to the nearest ground stations, Mayor Eric Fournier said. The passengers were then flown by helicopter to Chamonix and the Italian town of Courmayeur. The ordeal began Thursday afternoon, when cables on the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car service got twisted, trapping 110 people in a string of cars. French and Italian helicopters flew in rescuers who dropped down on cables onto the tops of the cars, and lifted out passengers one by one.
Leader tells Obama he never cursed him
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he told President Barack Obama during their encounter in Laos that he never cursed him. On a visit to Indonesia, Duterte told the Filipino community there that he told Obama: "President Obama, I'm President Duterte. I never made that statement, check it out." He said that Obama responded: " 'My men will talk to you,' and he replied 'Okay.' " Duterte blamed the media for distorting his words, saying he did utter "son of a b----" but it was not directed at Obama. Before traveling to Laos for regional summits, Duterte said Monday that Obama should not question him about the rising death toll in his war on drugs, which has been criticized abroad and by Duterte's opponents in the Philippines. More than 2,800 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed since Duterte took office.