Senator vows to block Iran's choice of envoy
Iran has chosen a former hostage-taker involved in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to serve as its ambassador at the United Nations, Sen. Ted Cruz said Tuesday in vowing to bar him from entering the United States. Cruz said it was outrageous that Iran had selected Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, and was seeking a visa for him. The Texas Republican said he was offering legislation to ensure that Aboutalebi would be prevented from entering the country. "This person is an acknowledged terrorist." Cruz said in a speech on the Senate floor. Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran's Mission to the United Nations, had no comment Tuesday on his government's choice for ambassador. Cruz said Aboutalebi has insisted his involvement in the group was limited to translation and negotiation.
Mudslide toll climbs to 28
The official death toll from Washington state's mudslide has increased to 28, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday. Of the 28 victims, 22 have been identified. Officials said the number of people who are missing now stands at 20. Receding floodwaters near the rural community of Oso are helping in the search for human remains by exposing more sites that can be examined, officials said.
Syria war toll put at 150,000
The Syrian civil war has claimed the lives of at least 150,344 people, most of them rebel or government fighters, as it enters its fourth year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced Tuesday. According to the observatory, an organization based in Britain that collects information from monitors deployed around Syria, 51,212 civilians have died since the violence started in March 2011. That's 34 percent of the total.
Washington: In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden released Tuesday, director of national intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that the National Security Agency has searched for Americans' communications without warrants in databases that gather emails and phone calls of foreign targets. He did not provide the number of searches.
San Francisco: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was charged Tuesday with federal felony counts involving safety violations linked to a natural gas pipeline blast in the San Francisco area that killed eight people in 2010.
Guinea: An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the West African nation of Guinea has reached the crowded capital, Conakry, prompting new fears about its spread, health officials said Tuesday.